New Delhi: The government has set up a national forum on water resources for sharing ideas on their better management among the states.

"The National Forum of Water Resources and Irrigation Ministers of States will be a permanent forum with the provision that half of its members would retire after every two years. They would be replaced by the ministers from states/union territories from similar regions in the country," Water Resource Minister Harish Rawat said on Wednesday.

He was speaking at the first meeting of National Forum of Water Resources and Irrigation Ministers in New Delhi.

Seeking to dispel apprehension, he said the Centre has already clarified that it does not intend to encroach upon the powers of the state governments on the issue of water.

He reassured the states that the framework law and the river basin management bill would be drafted in such a manner that rights and powers of the states were not curtailed in any manner.

These laws would be finalized only after having threadbare deliberations and consensus, Rawat said.

The minister sought active support of the states to reform the water resources sector as administration at various levels are "duty bound" to provide a minimum water security to the common man.

Underlining the increasing challenges, Rawat said the country needs to enhance present water storage capacity and augment aquifer replenishment to maintain the per capita water availability (i.e., 1,545 cubic meter per year).

By 2050, he said India will consume much more water than what it is consuming today.

"Hence, the central and state governments and even the municipal and panchayat bodies are duty bound to provide a minimum water security to the common man and the poorest of the poor...," he said.

Noting that the present capacity and storage facilities under construction are not adequate enough to meet the future challenge, Rawat said a massive mobilization of resources is required even if the country plans to develop the present storage capacity from 253 billion cubic meters to 450 billion cubic meters.

(Agencies)

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