Opposition expresses its reservations, abstains from voting on resolution
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Assembly on Wednesday passed a statutory resolution authorising the Government to enter into an agreement regarding supply of water to Tamil Nadu from the Neyyar irrigation project.
The resolution, moved under Section 30 of the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act, specifies that the water could be supplied for agriculture purposes in Vilavankodu village of Kanyakumari district at a price to be fixed from time to time.
The Congress-led Opposition, which objected to giving a blanket permission to the Government to negotiate an agreement, abstained from voting on the resolution. The Opposition members argued that the Act mandated that the actual terms of the agreement be placed before the House for approval.
Water Resources Minister N.K. Premachandran, who moved the resolution, said the Government was only carrying forward a policy decision taken by the previous Government. Though the previous Government had decided to resume supply of water to Tamil Nadu from the Neyyar, the Law Secretary had objected to it on the ground that a resolution of the House was needed for that. Though the previous Government had called an all-party meeting on the issue, it could not be held on account of the announcement of the Assembly elections. "The Government will enter into an agreement with Tamil Nadu only by keeping the best interests of Kerala in mind. ."
He noted that Tamil Nadu had challenged the Act saying that Kerala did not have legislative competence to enact such a measure. As the resolution was being adopted under the Act, it could not successfully argue such a case if it entered into an agreement with Kerala.
Though Mr. Premachandran pointed out that the Act only specified that an agreement with other States should be reached as per terms of a resolution passed by the House, Aryadan Muhammed, K. C. Joseph (both Congress) contended that the intention of the Assembly was that the actual terms of the agreement should be approved by the House.
Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan said the Government had brought the resolution because of its anxiety to see that the inter-State issues were settled through negotiations.