In response to the acute shortage of water looming large over most parts of India, the Narendra Modi government has decided to conduct third party evaluations in order to provide central funds to the most needy states.
In the wake of a severe water crisis witnessed in most parts of India, the central government has decided to bring in third party evaluations in order to provide central funds to the neediest states.
There are four states being considered for the special intervention, sources in the ministry of Jal Shakti told media. “Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh may get funds. However, the final names will only be out after the third party report,” said an official in the ministry.
Tamil Nadu, which is reeling under water shortage, has sought Rs 5,398-crore assistance from the Centre for water supply projects across the state, especially in Chennai.
SP Velumani, state minister for Municipal Administration, Rural Development and Implementation of Special Programme, presented a memorandum last week to Gajendra Singh Shekhawat seeking financial assistance.
The projects include desalination plant and connected pipeline works with a designed capacity of 100 million litres per day (MLD) to Villupuram and Thindivanam municipality; Marakkanam and Vikkaravandi town panchayats and 1,601 rural habitations in 10 panchayatunions of Villupuram district. The total project cost is around Rs 2,000 crore and is expected to benefit 16.78 lakh people.
In 2016, Tamil Nadu faced an unprecedented drought situation. Subsequently, in 2017, the state had received deficit rainfall and in 2018 there was a 24 per cent deficit in rainfall.
While in Uttar Pradesh, reportedly, a deadline of two years has been given by PM Modi to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to solve the water supply related issues in the state.
Sources told that Centre is likely to provide Rs 9,000 crore to UP, including water-starved regions of Vindhyachal and Bundelkhand.
Meanwhile, the Jal Shakti ministry is rife with debates on whether or not water should be on the concurrent list.
The erstwhile Union ministries of water resources have since long been arguing for a shift of water to the concurrent list without any serious record of its happening.
The Ashok Chawla committee, which was basically concerned with rationalising the allocation of natural resources with a view to reduce the scope for corruption, has reportedly recommended the shifting of water to the concurrent List, among other things.
In India, the general consensus is that water is a state subject, which is why it is mostly the state government which is held responsible for any water-related trouble.
However, the primary entry in the constitution relating to water is indeed Entry 17 in the State List, but it is explicitly made subject to the provisions of Entry 56 in the Union List which enables the Union to deal with inter-State rivers if Parliament decides to pass a law.
This means that if Parliament considers it “expedient in the public interest” that the regulation and development of an inter-state river should be “under the control of the Union”, it can enact a law to that effect, and that law will give the Parliament (and thus, to the executive also) powers over that river. This enabling provision has not been used by the Parliament. No such law has been passed bringing any river under the purview of the Centre.
The Centre on May 18 had issued a “drought advisory” to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, asking them to use water judiciously, inferring the gravity of the issue.