New Delhi: The Union ministry for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation has begun the process to make water a part of the concurrent list, moving it away from being a state subject.

The move follows the rising number of disputes over access to water arising between states across India.

“There has been a demand from all concerned parties that water be put in the concurrent list. There has been a rise in the number of disputes between states in the last few years. In the last year we have seen disputes between the states of Karnataka-Tamil Nadu over Cauvery and Punjab-Haryana over Sutlej," said an official from the ministry, who did not wish to be named.

The ministry is holding consultations with states to work on a solution without taking away the rights of the states.

According to the Constitution of India, as most of the rivers in the country are inter-state, the regulation and development of water of these rivers is a source of inter-state differences and disputes and is included in the state list.

Union minister for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation Uma Bharti has also backed the move.

Bharti, addressing an official event in the national capital last week, said that the government is discussing the issue of bringing water on the concurrent list with states. She said, “Both the Centre and state can frame laws if water, at present part of the State List, is made part of the Concurrent List."

Water supplies, irrigation and canals, drainage and embankments and storage fall in the state list.

“Lot of Parliamentarians and senior level polity have jointly voiced their serious desire and willingness both within and outside Parliament for putting in water into the concurrent list in view of multiple un-resolvable water disputes arising across the country including Cauvery dispute. It is in view of this that the government is contemplating to do the needful so that scarce water resources are managed well for drinking and other such purposes," said joint secretary Sanjay Kundu, while addressing a conference on water pollution at PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday.

There has been a rise in conflicts among states over access to water. While Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are fighting over Krishna river, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry are in a fight over Cauvery river. Punjab and Haryana are also in conflict over Sutlej-Yamuna after the Punjab assembly passed a bill to transfer rights back to land owners.

PTI contributed to this story.

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