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PM allays fears of states on national legal framework on water

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today allayed fears of the states on the proposed national legal framework on water, saying the Centre has no intention of encroaching upon their rights on the issue.

"The central government does not wish to encroach, in any manner, upon the constitutionally guaranteed rights of states or to centralise water management…I would like to emphasise the need to see the proposed national legal framework in proper perspective," he said.

"The framework would be an umbrella statement of general principles governing the exercise of legislative, executive or devolved powers by the Centre, the states and the local governing bodies," the Prime Minister said here.

Singh was addressing the sixth meeting of the National Water Resources Council which is likely to adopt the latest National Water Policy.

The policy proposes to have a national legal framework on water issues which the state governments have been opposing since the draft was put in public domain in January this year.

Referring to the issue of depleting groundwater, the Prime Minister said inspite of its "vital importance", there is no regulation for its extraction and coordination among competing uses.

"We need to initiate steps to minimise misuse of groundwater by regulating the use of electricity for its extraction," he said.

Singh said rapid economic growth and urbanisation were widening the demand-supply gap and worsening the country's water-stress index.

"The situation calls for judicious management of our limited water resources and the paradigm shift in our approach…We, therefore, need to rise above political, ideological and regional differences," he said.

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