New Delhi: Noting that India already faces water scarcity, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday said the legal structures dealing with water were inadequate and called for a national legal framework on general principles of water.
Addressing the sixth meeting of the National Water Resources Council here, the prime minister said there was need to treat water as a common property resource in a way that protected basic needs of drinking water along with livelihood of poor farmers.
The meeting was called to approve a new national water policy.
Manmohan Singh said the most objective data available pointed out that water or the lack of it could become the limiting factor to the country’s social and economic growth.
“India already faces a scarcity of water, which is a vital and stressed natural resource,” he said.
He said one of the problems in achieving better water management was that the current institutional and legal structures were “inadequate, fragmented and need active reform”.
The prime minister said suggestions had been made for a national legal framework of general principles on water, which, in turn, would pave way for essential legislation on water governance in every state.
“I would like to emphasise the need to see the proposed national legal framework in proper perspective. The framework would be an umbrella statement of general principles governing the exercise of legislative, executive or devolved powers by the centre, states and local governing bodies,” he said.
He said the central government did not wish to encroach upon the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of states or to “centralise water management”.