The J-K Water Resources (Regulation and Management) Act also levies taxes on water used for irrigation and drinking, which, the government said, will fetch the exchequer another Rs 150 crore. "We are always asked to raise our own resources. Water is the biggest resource we have. We can't tax generation of electricity (but) we can charge on water usage. This legislation will help us to use our water resources to generate revenue," Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told The Indian Express. "This, however, is not a precursor for privatisation (of water resources). We have a long long way to go for that."
The Bill envisages establishment of State Water Regulatory Authority for "sustainable management, allocation and utilisation of water resources, fixing the rates for use of water and other connected matters".
Irrigation Minister Taj Mohiuddin said: "As of now, 33,930 million tonne water is utilised (by NHPC and the state's PDC, which generate Rs 7,140 crore a year in revenue from the state). This will generate revenue of Rs 848 crore."
NHPC alone would be liable for taxes to the tune of Rs 5000 crore, the minister for irrigation and flood control, Taj Mohiuddin, said.
"Not just NHPC, we want everyone including the state-owned Power Development Corporation (JKPDC) to pay for the water it uses to generate energy," he said.
On becoming an Act, the legislation would also make water for irrigation and drinking taxable.
The government control would now extend to rivers, streams, lakes and ground water, and there would be no room for misuse, the minister said.
The minister said at present the volume of water present in the state was roughly about one lakh million acre feet out of which 33930 million cubic of water was exploited by the companies for power generation.
From an identified 20,000 megawatt potential, Kashmir has been able to harness only 2,456 megawatts so far.
The 1960 Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan curtailed the rights of Jammu and Kashmir on three of its major rivers upper Chenab, Jhelum, and Indus.
The treaty prevented Jammu and Kashmir to exploit water resources even for irrigation let alone power generation.
Discontent over the exploitation of Kashmir's vast water resources by both India and Pakistan have been growing over the years and remains a vital ingredient of Kashmir's political discourse at present.
Source- Indian Express