Bansal wants rational pricing of water (Lead)

July 27th, 2011 - 10:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Calling for efficient use of water, notably in irrigation, Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal Wednesday said the scarce and precious resource should be adequately priced.

“Something that is in short supply has to be rationed or adequately priced,” Bansal said at an event to launch a new initiative to promote efficient water management activities, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here.

He said the industry can take a big lead in building opinion along with the civil society towards rational pricing of water.

“Use of water has to be adequately priced,” Bansal said and called for its judicious use.

The comments are significant since official statistics suggest that 83 percent of water in the country is used for irrigation, but pricing of water for agriculture is not only politically sensitive but also requires the cooperation of state governments.

Bansal, who was allotted the water portfolio again in the recent cabinet reshuffle, told IANS last week he will unveil a new water policy by March, focused on enhancing the efficient use of water, mainly for irrigation, by 20 percent in the next five years.

“The present efficiency of water use is about 35 percent and we want to take it up to 42 percent in the next five years. This is important for conservation, preservation and augmentation,” Bansal, also parliamentary affairs minister, said in the interview.

Bansal said at the CII event that there had been complaints about “industry using the water recklessly”.

Suggesting that water should be placed in the concurrent list, the minister said there have been demands that the central government should play a more active role in resolving inter-state disputes relating to water.

“It (water) should at least be in the concurrent list. That’s in larger national interest,” Bansal said. Water is a state subject at present.

Bansal said inter-state water disputes keep lingering for years and if these were settled quickly, more water would be available for use such as for generating power.

He said the industry could focus on training farmers on ways to use less water without compromising on the yield.

He said the ministry could also tie-up with banks for credit to farmers to take up sprinkler and drip irrigation.

Dhruv Vijay Singh, secretary, water resources, said the per capita availability of water could become dismal in the coming years.

Bansal also inaugurated the CII-Triveni Water Institute — aimed as a centre of excellence to involve the industry in partnership with public, private and government bodies to promote efficient water management activities.

With offices in Jaipur, New Delhi, Bangalore and Pune, the objective of the institute is to establish a single-point solution provider for all water-related activities.

Dhruv M. Sawhney, chairman, CII-Triveni Water Institute, said that the industry was keen to curtail its water consumption by 30 percent.

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