Decentralising water resources

Panchayats are given more power in Uttar Pradesh's new water policy

Published: Sunday 15 August 1999

Taking a cue from its Andhra Pradesh counterpart, the Uttar Pradesh (UP) cabinet has approved a water policy that devolves powers from the irrigation officials to the village panchayat (village council) through a water users body.

The new water policy has been approved by the Kalyan Singh cabinet, keeping in mind the growing demand for drinking and irrigation water in the next century.

The water users body will be responsible for the water management and adequate drinking water supply, proper irrigation facility, hydro-electric power generation and support to agriculture and allied industries and water transport. "The policy addresses both surface and groundwater and enables water users to construct and maintain the irrigation systems and control water distribution and management," says Keshav Desi Raju, secretary in the ministry of agriculture, UP government.

It is proposed that a registered body under the panchayat will promote equitable and optimal utilisation of water through community participation. The executive engineer of the irrigation department will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with user groups, which will work as an implementing agency for the policies formulated by the state government.

The policy aims at modernisation and upgradation of channels and modern conveyance management. Apart from this, a water regulatory commission too will be constituted on the lines of the Power Regulatory Commission, which will fix the irrigation facility charges correlating to the cost of providing that facility to the farmers.

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