Acceptance speech of James Wilson as Alt Minister of Water Resources

It is my honour and privilege to be appointed as the Minister for Water Resources in the Alt Sarkar. Thank you Hon’ble Prime Minister Vidyut for trusting me with this important portfolio. As we are moving from a water stressed to water scarce future, I am well aware of the huge responsibilities and limitations of Alt Ministry of Water Resources.

Water always has a spatial and temporal availability issue and this itself creates huge challenges to management of it. We are yet to formulate policies to jointly manage surface water, ground water, water pollution rather than addressing the issues in isolation. Population growth and climate change are now posing huge challenges in the water resources management. Increased vulnerability to severe weather events, growing urban demand, over allocation to existing supplies, unrestricted extractions, polluting of rivers, environmental requirements are some areas to concentrate our efforts for a sustainable future. As agriculture use accounts for 80-85% of the water use, water savings can start there. Unsustainable draft of underground water created over exploited zones of water scarcity at many parts of our country. My Ministry will promote efficient agricultural use of water. This will be ensured in close co-ordination with Ministry of Agriculture. Instead of understanding its complexities and nuances, the deliberations in recent past have been limited to binaries as flood and drought and advocating interlinking of rivers will solve all the ills. Water Balance concept now being adopted by the NWDA to advocate interlinking of rivers needs scrutiny. NWDA will be directed to formulate river basin plans first for the donor State before suggesting inter basin diversion from there. Inter State River Dispute Amendment Bill now passed by Lok Sabha should be sent to the Parliamentary Committee for detailed deliberations before it is presented in the Rajya Sabha. Inter State water issues involve heavy stakes and mechanisms established for dealing with it must be non-partisan & should instil confidence in the party States. Replacing judicial selection process being done by Chief Justice of India with a Selection Committee for appointing members of the Permanent Tribunal is heavily titled towards Executive without any representation from opposition. There are many complex issues to be dealt in this important sector. This Government is keeping its doors open for deliberations and discussions from all stake holders. I assure you that this ministry is at your service. Jai Hind!  

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