Minister reiterates view at National Water Resources Council meeting

Tamil Nadu has reiterated its view that there was no need to establish a Permanent Water Disputes Tribunal for the adjudication of disputes among the States regarding inter-State rivers.

Stating this in a meeting of National Water Resources Council in New Delhi on Friday, Public Works Minister K.V. Ramalingam gave suggestions to make necessary modifications and deletions to the draft Water National Policy, 2012.

Stating that the establishment of a permanent tribunal would be impracticable and ineffective, he said it would expose the poor understanding of the disputes that arise in several river basins which were very varied in purport and content. Because of the complexity and technicality involved as each river basin has unique characteristics, the tribunals were created, he said, arguing against a permanent tribunal.

Tamil Nadu also demanded the protection of the existing agreements; awards of tribunals and covenants in inter-State river projects.

The Minister also demanded that the project planning of all water resources projects which would have inter-State ramifications, including hydro power projects, be managed by Central government utilities like Central Water Commission to avoid conflict between State governments and without infringing on the subsisting rights of the lower riparian states.

The proposed national policy had issues which directly infringed on the rights of the State governments, he said, emphasising that the devolution of authority for the legislation on water should vest with the States and there was no need to evolve a national framework.

In the scheme of things, priority should be given to domestic water supply by local bodies and government institutions and drinking water supply on commercial basis by large private industrial sectors should not be considered as domestic water supply, Mr. Ramalingam said.

The policy should concentrate on strengthening water use infrastructure wherever it was weak and not focus on particular regions as found in the draft..