The Centre will follow the example set by the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in dealing constructively in inter-State water disputes, including the Cauvery row, according to Nirmala Seetharaman, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry (Independent Charge).
Addressing reporters here on Saturday, she said the BJP’s approach to water disputes would be guided by the example set by Mr. Vajpayee, who, keeping in mind the larger interest, actively involved himself in the matter and mediated between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to resolve the water-sharing problem.
“The current government will play a constructive role,” she said, adding the letter Chief Minister Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the formation of the Cauvery Management Board would be discussed with all seriousness.
On Tamil Nadu fishermen being arrested by Sri Lanka continuously, she said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was of the firm view that this could not be allowed to become a festering issue.
“The government is engaging with Sri Lanka on the need to find a permanent solution to the fishermen problem as well as the rights of Sri Lankan Tamils,” she pointed out.
However, she said, while there were many ways to solve the issue, an economic embargo on Sri Lanka, as demanded by the Tamil Nadu Assembly in a resolution, was not an option.
The Minister, who was on her first trip to Tamil Nadu after taking over the Commerce and Industry portfolio, said she was meeting representatives of industry associations to discuss ways to improve manufacturing output and bring in more investments to the State.
The Minister said she was also meeting saltpan operators and workers to see whether the industry could be expanded in Tamil Nadu. Already, the State is the second largest producer of salt, and augmenting this sector could create export opportunities as well as jobs. She said she was also exploring the possibilities for the food processing sector.
When pointed to the power crisis the State had faced over the years, Ms. Seetharaman said the energy sector would be a priority in the upcoming Union budget as the power situation across the country was worrying.