Council restricts inter-basin water transfer

| 27 September 2001 23:16 IST

Several states, fighting over water diversion by the states where their rivers originate, got a shot in the arm with the working group on draft national water resource policy agreeing not to transfer water from one basin to other without mutual agreement between the concerned states.

Goa's water resources minister Ramakant Khalap had vehemently put forth the proposal at the working group meet held in Delhi on 24 September. "I will continue to be a naughty boy of the council on such issues", he told the meeting.

Informing about getting succeeded in including the major clause in the draft policy, Khalap said the draft policy would be now finalised by the water resources council, headed by prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in two months.

The crucial clause, which will now replace a vague clause in the existing policy document, will not allow any state to transfer water from one basin to the other as per their whims. Taking consent of the affected states will be mandatory.

Goa is one of the affected states as Karnataka proposes to divert water of Mhadei river, which originates in the southern state, to the basin of Krishna river by constructing seven dams and three hydroelectric projects.

The working group, at Khalap's insistence in the meeting held on 19 June, had constituted a seven-member sub-committee, headed by union minister of state Vijaya Chakraborty, to study the issue.

The sub-committee has even proposed that no agreement could be signed between the states on inter-basin water transfer unless present and future requirements of agriculture, industry, tourism, hydro power etc are taken into consideration. Study will also required to be made about its effects on ecology, salinity and drinking water situation.

Besides this, the working group has also agreed to the proposal to maintain natural flow of the river to reasonable extent, if the river is flowing, while diverting water from one basin to the other.

According to Khalap, the clause will safeguard interest of several small states like Goa, which are sidelined by the bigger states in order to give priority to their problems at the cost of people in small states.

Goa is still fighting the issue of diversion of Mhadei water under the pretext that Karnataka farmers could benefit in a big way. Mhadei, which joins the Arabian sea as river Mandovi, is considered to be lifeline of Goa.

The tourist state has now also mooted a project for drinking water, worth Rs 75 crore, on river Mhadei while it feeds at least five talukas among 11 in terms of agriculture, tourism and conveyance.

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