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Tamil Nadu will get more water than others: national agency

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, JAN. 28. Tamil Nadu will get more water than other States under the peninsular component of interlinking of rivers, said M. Elangovan, chief engineer (southern region) of the National Water Development Agency (NWDA), Central organisation engaged in preparing feasibility reports.

As per allocations, Tamil Nadu would receive 273 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet); Andhra Pradesh 247, Orissa 116 and Karnataka 16.

Mr. Elangovan was participating in the second day deliberations of a three-day seminar organised by the Sathyabama Deemed University here on the subject.

"At Grand Anicut, 57 tmcft will be made available for the Cauvery delta. Other parts of the State will have 216 tmcft. These figures are exclusive of the 10 per cent transmission losses," he said.

"In our allocation, we have set apart for drought-prone areas south of Cauvery. However, it is for the Tamil Nadu Government to decide whether the entire allocation should be made available for the delta."

Stating that it had been proposed to transfer 925 tmcft from the Godavari and Mahanadi basins to deficit basins, Mr. Elangovan said some States would have reasons to feel "unhappy" about the scheme, as it did not address their problems. For instance, it had nothing to offer to water-deficit pockets of Maharashtra, though they formed part of the Godavari basin. "This is because we want to avoid water pumping to the extent possible, so that the project is economically feasible." Maharashtra would, however, get 56 tmcft `indirectly' under the programme.

`Transparent scrutiny needed'

A. Vaidyanathan, professor emeritus, Madras Institute of Development Studies and former Union Planning Commission Member, criticised authorities for attempting to go ahead with the implementation of a project which, according to him, was not subjected to a transparent scrutiny. Focussing on the peninsular component, Prof. Vaidyanathan said the proposals did not figure in the approved programmes under the 10th Plan. There was no indication of whether and how the massive additional resources would be mobilised.

As for water transfer, he said one should know when, for what duration and how much of it could be drawn from each basin to the next and how well it matched the irrigation requirements of the recipient basin. Prof. Vaidyanathan emphasised the need for a "sea change" in the quality of water governance. "When the quality of water governance even within every State is in an appalling condition, how are tail-end States going to get water," he asked.

S. Mohan, professor, Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Division of the Department of Civil Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, said as the NWDA's feasiblity reports were not available in the public domain, it was not possible to accord professional recognition to them. The data should be made available to the public. Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports should be carried out for each link proposal, he said.

A. Ramasamy, vice-president, Lower Bhavani Farmers' Federation, said Erode, Coimbatore, Namakkal and Salem would not be benefited by the programme. He appealed to the task force to include in the scheme diversion of 12 tmcft from the Pandya-Punnampuzha rivers in Kerala to the Moyar in Tamil Nadu.

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