Debating India

Rivers project: ``caution is the word’’

Thursday 21 April 2005

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday saw members expressing different views on inter-linking of rivers initiated by the previous Government, with both sides demanding that the Union Minister for Water Resources, Priya Ranjan Das Munsi, clarify the United Progressive Alliance’s position on the issue.

Jairam Ramesh (Congress) advocated caution since the magnitude of the originally envisaged project entailed massive rehabilitation while C. Ramachandraiah (Telugu Desam Party) felt "constrained to accept" most of Mr. Ramesh’s observations.

On the other hand, P.G. Narayanan (All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) felt that various regimes at the Centre were neglecting the south in the matter of easing their water-related problems. Subbarami Reddy (Congress), Chandrakala Pandey (CPI-M) and Keshubhai Patel (Bharatiya Janata Party) wanted an all-party consensus on solving water issues.

Mr. Ramesh said the tendency was to start new projects without completing the on-going ones. On the interlinking issue, he said the weight of technical opinion was to proceed with caution. "It is not as if interlinking projects were not done in the past. But at the same time, we cannot overlook ecological and human settlement issues. ".

Mr. Narayanan wanted a legislation to nationalise all the rivers in order to end "petty and parochial’’ issues in river interlinking. While the BJP and the Congress fought "mock battles" elsewhere, they were one in giving Tamil Nadu a "raw deal" on the Cauvery waters issues.

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