Six years after the Gujarat government issued a notification to set up the Gujarat Water Regulatory Authority (GWRA) for fixing and regulating water tariffs, it has not been implemented so far. As Gujarat is facing a difficult summer this year owing to less availability of Narmada water and the state government is looking for alternate sources of water, setting up of the authority could have checked the possible arbitrary or wasteful use of water in the state.
The GWRA was envisaged as a quasi-judicial body on the lines of Electricity Regulatory Commission and Telecom Regulatory Authority.
“Water is going to play a major role in all human and development-related activities in the coming years. In order to regulate the water management sector, the government has decided to establish Gujarat Water Regulatory Authority,” reads the February 14, 2012 government notification.
As per the notification, the GWRA was to have a chairperson and two other members. The chairperson and other members of the authority shall be appointed by the Governor on recommendation of the Selection Committee headed by the Chief Secretary and having ACS (Finance), principal secretaries of industries, water supply and urban development departments and special secretary (water resources) as members.
The notification also has the provisions to have experts from different fields related to water and members from farmers’ organisations as special invitees to the Authority. The GWRA had four functions and duties to perform as per the notification — to fix and regulate water tariff system and charges for surface and sub-surface water used for domestic, agriculture, industrial and other purposes; to determine and regulate distribution of entitlement for various categories; to periodically review and monitor water costs and revenues, and to perform any other duties as assigned to it.
A senior officer, on condition of anonymity, said, “The government is trying to find a suitable chairperson and members for it.”
Minister of State for Irrigation and Water Supply (Independent charge) Parbat Patel, however, expressed ignorance about the GWRA. “If the notification is of 2012, then after that there was no discussion on that. We have established Gujarat Water Infrastructure Limited (a government company to lay drinking water grid line). I will check it out if Water Regulatory Authority is there or not,” Patel said.