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Centre to hold talks with States on inter-linking rivers

Tuesday 15 March 2005

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 14. The Centre has decided to convene a meeting of chief ministers next month to evolve consensus on the programme to inter-link rivers. Prior to this, the Union Water Resources Minister, Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, will hold "bilateral discussions’’ with chief ministers concerned to understand and address their apprehensions on the issue.

This was disclosed by Mr. Dasmunsi in the Lok Sabha today while replying to supplementaries during Question Hour. He said the Prime Minister had asked him to first hold one-to-one meetings with the chief ministers and then get them all together to the negotiating table to iron out the rough spots.

Hopeful of being able to announce the first river-linking project by the year-end, Mr. Dasmunsi sought to take a dig at the previous government for making "tall claims without doing the necessary spadework." Stating that the Government was committed to the inter-linking of rivers, the Minister said no definite date could be given when the programme would be launched till Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were signed as states were divided on the issue.

Inter-linking was still a concept and it could be called a "project’’ only when it became a reality. Amid protests from the Opposition National Democratic Alliance benches over the bid by the United Progressive Alliance Government to "appropriate" a project launched by the Vajpayee Government, Mr. Dasmunsi said it had been in the pipeline for long and was resurrected by the previous regime only because of a directive from the Supreme Court. With as many as 20 supplementaries on this question, Question Hour almost turned into a discussion on rivers inter-linking.

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