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New Krishna tribunal illegal, says Patil

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE, ARPIL 14. Amid the polemics of elections, the State Government today said that the Centre's move to set up a new tribunal for reallocation of the Krishna river waters under the Scheme B of the Bachawat Award was in violation of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act.

Bowing to pressure from Andhra Pradesh, the Centre issued a notification to set up the tribunal and acted in a partisan manner favouring Andhra Pradesh on the issue, the Minister for Agriculture, H.K. Patil, has charged.

The Minister told presspersons here that a few days ago the Centre issued a notification to review the allocation of water under Scheme A of the Bachawat Award. "The decision is technically wrong and illegal," he said and urged the Centre to withdraw the notification immediately. It was noteworthy that Mr. Patil, who held the Water Resources portfolio till December 2003, addressed the press at the Congress Bhavan as part of the party's daily press briefing on the elections.

He said the State was allocated 734 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of water under the Bachawat Award in 1974. Of the 734 tmcft, the State Government had decided to release 5 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu to meet the drinking water requirements of Chennai. Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra were the other signatories to the Award.

The new tribunal should look into sharing of surplus Krishna waters under Scheme B. Instead of restricting the terms and reference to the surplus waters, the Centre had referred the Andhra Pradesh demand for utilising the unutilised share allocated under Scheme A, Mr. Patil said.

The Centre should not have unilaterally included it without holding negotiations with the States concerned under the provisions of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act. There had been no communication and no discussion on the issue by the Centre with the States concerned, Mr. Patil said.

The State Government had proposed the Kalasa and the Bandori nala diversion project to meet the drinking water needs of north Karnataka, including Hubli-Dharwad, and to augment water in the Malaprabha river. The project envisaged diversion of 7.56 tmcft of water from the Mahadayi Basin to the Malaprabha Basin.

But the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the Deputy Prime Minister, L. K. Advani, had "duped the people" of the State by keeping the in-principle clearance order in abeyance at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party Government in Goa, Mr. Patil charged.

Was it not a partisan way of pandering to the interests of the BJP Government of Goa at the cost of the people of Karnataka, he asked. Nearly 200 tmcft of water of the Mahadayi flowed into the Arabian Sea. The NDA Government had been silent on setting up a tribunal to determine the share of Mahadayi waters.

He ridiculed the NDA Government for its "tall claims" of interlinking rivers, when it was not able to give clearance to the small project to link the Mahadayi and the Malaprabha.

He criticised the Andhra Pradesh Government for opposing the Paragodu drinking water project in Kolar. The Government had decided to implement the project to store 0.1 tmcft of water to meet the drinking requirements of 87 villages in the district. But the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, gave a call to the people of his State to be ready for "a war" to protect the rights of his State. The Centre too was silent on the issue, Mr. Patil said.

In all irrigation projects, the Union Government led by the BJP had done injustice to the State. "The BJP has no moral right to seek votes by cheating the people," he alleged.

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