Mumbai Local

Defunct water body returns dam proposal

Relations between Maharashtra and its newly-formed neighbour Telangana appear to have taken a hit after a proposal sent by the Telangana government to the state government for new dams on the Godavari and Pranahita rivers was sent back with a one-line reply: “We are currently without an authority”.

Telangana needed the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) to ratify its proposal, but the body has been without a chairperson since April 14, 2016 and jury members expert in economy and technical aspects. Two similar proposals that landed at the MWRRA office since April 22, 2016 have also been sent back with the same response. The proposal for construction of dams on the Maharashtra-Telangana border was sent to the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC), tasked with fulfilling the irrigation potential of the region, where the maximum backlog in funds deployed for irrigation projects exists.

The VIDC in turn forwarded the proposal to MWRRA, which has been without members authorised to regulate such matters. The Telangana proposal details plans to set up barrages on both rivers and thus needed ratification from MWRRA on conformity with existing interstate awards on water utilisation.

Section 11 (F) of the MWRRA Act empowers the quasi-judicial body to review and clear water resources projects while ensuring the proposal is in conformity with the integrated state water plan. It also reviews economic, hydrological and environmental viability besides state obligations under various awards.

If this is bad news, the Union government too is likely to be miffed by the fact that MWRRA has just begun to work on fleshing out a model Water Regulatory Act for other states to emulate.

A senior government official told The Hindu, “We are moving a proposal before the state cabinet that seeks an amendment to the MWRRA Act so that the limited scope for the appointment of jury members — this is restricted to retired bureaucrats who have been chief secretaries or equivalent — may be opened up for appointments of ex-bureaucrats of lower rank than chief secretary.”

The writer is a freelance journalist

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 3:33:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/defunct-water-body-returns-dam-proposal/article8583228.ece

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