Centre unveils river basin draft bill

The Centre on Monday floated a draft river basin management bill which aims to set up 12 river basin authorities in the country to settle inter state water disputes, prevent flood and pollution.

The Draft River Basin Management Bill, which seeks to amend the River Boards Act, 1956, proposed to create a mechanism for integrated planning, development and management of water resources of a river basin. The current river boards do not have the provision.

The bill proposes a two-tier structure for each of the 12 river basin authorities-Brahamani-Baitarini basin, Cauvery basin, Ganga basin, Godavari basin, Indus basin, Krishna basin, Mahanadi basin, Mahi basin, Narmada basin, Pennar basin, Subarnreakha basin and Tapi basin

Each of these river basin authorities will consist of an "upper layer" called the governing council and a "lower layer" described as the executive board charged with the technical and implementation powers for the council decisions.

Council’s responsibilities

The governing council will be entrusted with the job of approving the river basin master plan to ensure sustainable river basin development, management and regulation.

While taking steps to enable the basin states to agree on implementing the river basin master plan, the authorities will also settle inter-state water disputes.
The executive board on the other hand will prepare schemes for irrigation, water supply, hydropower, flood control, pollution control and soil erosion.

The ill mentions that the governing council of the concerned river will use conciliation and mediation to solve disputes between two or more states over recommendations of the authority or refusal of the states to undertake steps in pursuing the river basin master plan.

If the matter is not to be settled, the dispute will then be referred to the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 for adjudication.

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