The first meeting of the Vidhayak Samvaad was organised on April 27, 2007 in the State Assembly premises under the chairmanship of Sumitra Singh, the Honourable Speaker of Rajasthan Legislative Assembly. This meeting discussed two important issues: water and electricity. In order to give the discussion a definite direction and focus, CUTS prepared an analytical ?Issue Note? on the two subjects and sent it to the MLAs in advance, so that they could be better prepared in highlighting the problems associated with these issues.
With the words, ?necessity is the mother of invention?, Sumitra Singh inaugurated the first informal forum and endorsed that water and electricity are not only the two most essential needs of the people, but also the foundation of development. She praised CUTS for such a unique initiative and called the MLAs to rise above party politics and take up the issues of public interest with utmost seriousness.
In this first meeting of Vidhayak Samvaad, along with Sumitra Singh, 25 MLAs actively participated, which included: Dr C P Joshi, Congress; Dr Nathu Singh Gurjar, BJP; Surendra Pareek, BPJ; Brij Kishore Sharma, Congress; Devi Singh Bhati, Rajasthan Samajik Nyay Manch (RSNM); Rao Rajendra Singh, BJP; Mohan Lal Gupta, BJP; Rajkumari Sharma, BJP; Bharat Singh, Congress; Hari Mohan Sharma, Congress; Harlal Singh Kharra, Independent; Hemraj, Independent; Heera Lal, Independent;
Kalu Ram Yadav, Independent; Mohan Meghwal, BJP; Madan Rathore, BJP; Punji Lal Parmar, Congress; Raiyaji Meena, Congress; Ram Narayan, Congress; Surya Kant Vyas, BJP; Vijay Bansal, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). Some useful suggestions were provided by the MLAs on the issues, which were developed into a draft report and sent to all the MLAs of the state for their perusal.
Main Suggestions from the First Meeting
- Establishment of Water Regulation Commission: It was suggested that instead of temporary arrangement of water, there is a need for permanent solution. There should be strict implementation of laws prohibiting water exploitation. It was felt that there is a need for a mechanism to control the wastage of water along with its proper consumption. For this, the establishment of the Water Regulation Commission would be necessary, which could control the overall management of water, including control over its sources and balanced development of consumption.
- Environment and Health: It was felt that there is a need for giving proper attention towards the conservation of environment along with the promotion of residential constructions in rural and urban areas. The Government should prepare water policies keeping in mind the state?s geographical regions. Besides, it should pay attention to the standards of water quality that are good for human health.
- Sprinklers and Drip System: The farmers need to be encouraged to adopt sprinkler and drip system for the irrigation purposes for which they could be paid subsidy.
- Encroachment: There is an urgent need for strict action against the encroachments in the water catchments area.
- Misuse: The maps for constructing building in residential areas need to be passed by the concerned department only when the applicants furnish information regarding the proper arrangement for water conservation.
- Usage: There is a need for control over excessive use of electricity.
- Theft and Low Voltage: There is a need for a concrete policy on electricity theft and low voltage.
- Projects: The Government needs to keep in mind the geographical set up of the state while preparing projects on electricity.
- Establishment of All Party Committee: The MLAs felt the need for the establishment of an all party committee to tackle the issues of public interest like water and electricity. This committee should develop policies keeping the financial resources in mind.
- Fair Price Fixation: MLAs were of the opinion that reasonable prices for services like water and electricity should be fixed, so that the consumers could value the importance of these services, while the Government would be able to check the misuse of water and electricity in addition to the wrong use of the subsidy.
- Awareness: For better and judicious use of water and electricity, there is a strong need for generating awareness among the people. In this regard, active participation of private institutions and NGOs can help spread awareness on the issues.