Redefine property rights for ground water: Montek

New Delhi, Jan 28 | Updated: Jan 29 2005, 06:07am hrs
Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has called for redefining of property rights related to ground water in order to check misuse and over-exploitation the countrys water resources.

Speaking at an international conference on soil, water and environment quality organised by the Pusa Institute on Friday, Mr Ahluwalia said that water should be treated as a community resource and should not be part of personal property of any individual.

Blaming the lopsided system of subsidies and division of responsibility between several government authorities for contributing to environmental degradation, Mr Ahluwalia said that there was need overhauling of the system.

Involvement of different ministries, multiplicity of ministries and division of responsibility between the state governments and the Centre comes in the way of resolving issues relating to preservation of water and land quality, he said.

Lack of information on long-term implication of misuse of natural resources was one of the primary reasons for environmental degradation, he said. There has been systemic failure in combining scientific and economic knowledge and passing that on to the farming community, the deputy chairman pointed out.

Indias rising per capita income and resultant increase in consumption would put further pressure on depleting natural resources, Mr Ahluwalia warned.

The problem was further compounded by bad policies which had a distorting effect on prices. Mr Ahluwalia said that economists have been trying to drive home the idea that lopsided system of subsidies were encouraging people to go in for excessive use of nitrogeneous fertilisers leading to degradation of water and soil quality.

He said water use should be properly charged, weaknesses in the legal system should be addressed and property rights of ground water reviewed to stop irrational usage and over exploitation of ground water.

He added that the policy decision of providing free or highly subsidised electricity needed to be reviewed.