Water Resources Regulatory Authority lying defunct during past over 2 months

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The important wings of the State are not receiving the required and timely attention even from the present PDP-BJP Coalition Government, which otherwise is making tall claims about fully equipping and strengthening the organs that have to play the role clearly spelt out by the State Legislature. This can be gauged from the fate of J&K Water Resources Regulatory Authority, which is lying defunct during the past over two months.
The J&K Water Resources Regulatory Authority was established under Section 139 of Jammu and Kashmir Water Resources (Management and Regulation) Act, which was enacted by the State Legislature in 2010 to consolidate the laws relating to use of water, construction, control and management of works with respect to water storage, conservation and protection, the irrigation, water supply, drainage, flood control and prevention, the protection and improvement in the physical integrity of water courses like lakes and springs and the safety and surveillance of dams etc.
The Authority was constituted vide SRO No.339 dated October 15, 2012 and it was specifically mentioned in the SRO that Authority comprising of a Chairperson and two Members would essentially be responsible for regulating water resources within the territorial jurisdiction of J&K, ensuring judicious, equitable and sustainable management, allocation and utilization of these resources and fixing the rates for use of water etc.
Former Chief Secretary of the State, S S Kapur was appointed as the first Chairperson of J&K State Water Resources Regulatory Authority for a period of three years with effect from October 18, 2012 while as Vijay Abrol, former Chief Engineer of Public Health Engineering and Abdul Rashid Tak, former Executive Director, J&K State Power Development Corporation were appointed Members of the Authority also on October 18, 2012.
The Chairperson as well as both the Members of the Authority relinquished the offices on October 18, 2015 following completion of their three years term. However, despite lapse of over two months, the Government has not initiated any process for appointment of new Chairp-erson and Members of this important Authority, official sources said .
As per the provisions of the Act governing appointment of Chairperson and Members of the Authority, the Government is required to constitute a select committee consisting of Chief Secretary as Chairperson and Administrative Secretaries of PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, Planning and Development Department, Finance Department and Law Department as its Members.
But till date no formal order vis-à-vis constituting the select committee has been issued by the Government, sources informed, adding even the PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Department has not made any formal request to the Chief Secretary in this regard till date.
In response to a question, sources said that no time-frame can be specified for the appointment of new Chairperson and Members of the Authority as after formulation of select committee by way of a formal order, the committee would have to carry out a detailed exercise before finally recommending names to the Government for approval and issuance of orders.
As per the provisions of the Act, the Chairperson shall be appointed from amongst the persons, who are holding or have held a post not below the rank of Principal Secretary to the Government and have adequate knowledge of, or experience in, dealing with problems relating to engineering, finance, commerce, economics, law, administration or management.
Similarly, the Members of the Authority shall be persons of ability, integrity and standing who have adequate knowledge of, or experience in, or have shown capacity in dealing with problems relating to engineering, finance, commerce, economics, law or management. Moreover, it has specifically been mentioned in the Act that at least one Member shall be from amongst the persons who are holding or have held a post not below the rank of Chief Engineer having qualification and experience in the field of Hydraulic Engineering.
“It is unbecoming on the part of Government to remain mum over the defunct Water Resources Regulatory Authority especially when it is making tall claims after regular intervals about fully equipping and strengthening the organs that have to play the role clearly spelt out by the State Legislature”, sources said, adding “no doubt the Administrative Department of PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control can exercise the functions of the Regulatory Authority in the absence of Chairperson and Members as per the provisions of the Act but the same cannot be a ground to justify the delay in appointment of head and members of the Authority”.
When contacted, a senior officer of the PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control confirmed that no exercise has been initiated till date for appointment of new Chairperson and Members of the Authority, which have multifarious duties to perform in order to ensure strict implementation of the Act.

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