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NHRC bats for ‘right to water’ for citizens

Prime News, National, Water, New Delhi, July 28:- The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday (July 27) stressed on the need for ‘Right to Water,’ akin to ‘Right to Food,’ and said legislation on groundwater usage is required.

The suggestions were made during an online meeting on the subject hosted by the rights panel.

“Water is an important component of life. It is an obligation on the part of local bodies to supply potable water. However, conservation, preservation and distribution of water remain a vexed issue not only internationally but also regionally and locally,” NHRC chairperson Justice (retired) Arun Kumar Mishra was quoted as saying in a statement.

He said contamination of ground and surface water continued to be a “serious problem” despite several efforts being made involving huge expenditure.

Mishra added that the commission looked forward to the Jal Jeevan Mission, 2024, which seeks to provide potable tap water in every village household.

During the meeting, several recommendations were made, including having ‘Right to Water’ for citizens in the lines of ‘Right to Food,’ officials said.

“Besides recognising the need for ‘Right to Water,’ legislation is also required on groundwater use. ‘Right to Water’ with reference to groundwater and surface water usage should be clearly defined, the revival of traditional water bodies be promoted,” the rights panel recommended in the meeting.

Other recommendations included promoting crop rotation, growing crops that consume less water, using micro-irrigation technologies and discouraging the use of potable water for irrigation purposes.

Besides, chemical contamination, microbiological contamination also needs to be looked into. Attention also needs to be paid towards the preservation of dying watershed services like springs, which have been a perennial source of water supply to rivers and not just the rain and glacier melted water, the statement said.

The role of women in water usage and its management should also be encouraged, the NHRC recommended.

The rights panel member Rajiv Jain said crop rotation needs to be promoted to discourage excessive use of groundwater resources for irrigation purposes and codification of the right to potable water on the lines of Right to Food, needs to be ensured.

Co-chairing the meeting, NHRC member Justice (retired) M M Kumar said in view of the scarcity of drinking water, its judicious use and de-contamination needs to be promoted.

He spoke about several court judgments and Article 21 of the Constitution to extend ‘Right to Water’ within the ambit of Right to Life.

Earlier, NHRC Secretary General Bimbadhar Pradhan, said “big-bang water reforms” are required to achieve sustainable development goals. He underlined several issues including over-exploitation, inequitable distribution and riparian issues related to water.

Bharat Lal, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti gave an insight into the efforts of the Union government towards ensuring potable tap water for every household by 2024.

He also said that the focus of the government is not just on addressing the issue of chemical contamination of water bodies, including underground and on the surface, but also on “geogenic contamination.” (Inputs: Agencies, NGB)

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