Govt sets committee to improve water management in NE

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The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has constituted a high-level committee for proper management of the water resources in North East region of India.

With one of the focus areas being hydropower, the strategy will also help establish first-user rights to the waters of the Brahmaputra.

The committee will be headed by Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog and will include secretaries from the ministries of DoNER, power, water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, National Disaster Management Authority, departments of border management and space and the chief secretaries of all the eight states of the region.

With the ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER) serving as the coordinating point, the committee will submit its report as well as a plan of action by June 2018. This will involve dovetailing central and state government schemes across departments and autonomous bodies.

The committee’s terms of reference also include identification of gaps in the existing mechanisms and arrangements for water resource management and suggesting policy development.

The Brahmaputra, a trans-boundary river and among the mightiest in Asia, is unstable in its entire stretch in Assam except for a few places. India and China have joined issue over the diversion of the Brahmaputra which originates in Tibet.

The Brahmaputra and Barak river systems, which account for one-third of India’s run-off, are highly prone to floods. The Brahmaputra is one of the largest river systems in the world and causes considerable distress and costs to the region through frequent flooding and erosion.

This comes in the backdrop of Japan joining hands with India to aggressively develop infrastructure projects in India’s north-eastern states. An India-Japan Coordination Forum for Development of North East has been set up to focus on strategic projects such as connectivity and road network development, electricity and disaster management.

The committee will facilitate optimising benefits of appropriate water management in the form of hydroelectric power, agriculture, biodiversity conservation, reduced flood damage erosion, inland water transport, forestry, fishery and ecotourism.