Calling for far-reaching reforms in the water sector, Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal Wednesday said the central government has proposed setting up a forum of state water ministers to discuss issues and work out reconciliation.
Speaking after conclusion of 14th meeting of state water resources and irrigation ministers here, Bansal said there was a broad agreement among states on forming the forum.
Bansal said the agenda may include reforms in water sector such as the proposed overarching legal framework on water. However, bilateral issues will not be discussed at the forum, he added.
He said the government may amend the inter-state water disputes act to set up a standing tribunal to deal with water-related disputes among states.
Bansal said the tribunal would have benches dealing with more than one dispute. The minister said it was time that reforms of far reaching consequences were brought about in water sector and added that "business as usual" will not do.
The minister said some states had expressed apprehension that the overarching legal framework on water will encroach on their powers. "(We are) not taking away powers. Nothing we are imposing," he said.
Answering queries, Bansal said Haryana and Kerala were among the states that expressed apprehension that the ministry wanted to make the overarching legal framework binding through enactment of law. "That is not our intention."
Replying to a query, he said members of consultative committee of his ministry have suggested bringing water on the concurrent list. He said the national conference of water resources and irrigation ministers of states and union territories was held after seven years.