GUWAHATI, Oct 14 - The draft River Basin Management Bill 2018 prepared by the Union Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) has been viewed by experts as an attempt by the Union Government to take control of all the 13 inter-State river basins listed in the Bill.
These listed river basins include the Brahmaputra, the Barak and other inter-State river basins of the NE region.
Environmental activist and water expert Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), who has been studying the rivers of the South Asia region for the past several decades, told this newspaper that the States of the country are likely to see this Bill with suspicion. They will find it as an attempt by the Union Government to take control of all the listed river basins.
Moreover, the proposal to include the non-basin States which are interested in water resources of a basin in the management will create further suspicion that this is designed to facilitate the bid to interlink the rivers.
In fact the Bill has come forward with a proposal to set up a single or umbrella river basin authority in the long run. The dominant role proposed for the Central Water Commission (CWC) in the Executive Board strengthens this suspicion, said Thakkar.
The Bill is for a centralised, top down management of the basins, rather than a decentralised management approach, which is demanded by the existing situations, he said.
It may be mentioned that the MoWR has invited comments/suggestions from people on the draft River Basin Management Bill 2018 latest by November 5, 2018. The Bill can be accessed from the URL � http://mowr.gov.in/sites/default/files/RBM_DraftBill.pdf.
The Bill is aimed at amending the River Boards Act, 1956 to provide for establishment of the River Basin Authority for the regulation and development of inter-State rivers and river basins. The draft Bill proposes to set up 13 river basin authorities for various river basins of the country. The proposed legislation will also cover the Brahmaputra, Barak and other inter-State river basins of the NE region.
This Bill, if passed, will result in the repeal of the River Boards Act, 1956, with effect from the date of its notification as legislation.
�Any recommendation made by a River Basin Authority in exercise of its powers and function under this legislation shall be binding upon the Governments interested,� says the draft Bill.
It further stated that the Union Government shall by notification in the official Gazette establish a River Basin Authority for development, management and regulation of waters of an inter-State river basin or any specified part thereof and different authorities shall be established for different inter-State river basin or basins.