TN for talks to resolve water disputes: Minister

COIMBATORE, NOV. 27. Tamil Nadu prefers to resolve through mutual talks all inter-State issues regarding the sharing of river water, Mr. Durai Murugan, Minister for Public Works and Forests, said at Pollachi on Monday.

He was addressing farmers of the Parambikulam-Aliyar irrigation ayacuts, at a meeting convened to discuss the new system of `alternate sluice irrigation', at the Nachimuthu Polytechnic Auditorium.

Mr. Durai Murugan noted that Tamil Nadu faced problems regarding water-sharing with adjoining States, except Andhra Pradesh. In some States the issue of river water was being

over-emphasised in order to gain political mileage.

He said that the World Bank had commended Tamil Nadu for making effective use of developmental funds, while it had withdrawn funds advanced in Punjab and Orissa, and stopped funding projects in some other States.

Tamil Nadu had taken the lead by becoming the first State to establish a river basin authority for the Palar and Tamaraparani rivers. Approving of this pioneering move, the World Bank had invited representatives from Tamil Nadu to visit Australia to study the functioning of the river basin authorities there.

He said that the `alternate sluice irrigation' system was being tried out on an experimental basis, to enable farmers to have a major share in the decision-making regarding the distribution of river water for irrigation.

During the first phase of decentralisation, the Government would prepare estimates for developmental work based on the suggestions made by farmers, and carry out the work. During the second phase it would limit itself to preparing the estimate, and during the third phase, it would interact only in a supervisory capacity.

Mr. Pongalur N. Palaniswamy, Minister for Sports and Pollution Control, said that leakages in contour canals had been plugged within six months, with funds to the tune of over Rs. 100 crores from the World Bank. In this, as in other development schemes, the cooperation of the local farmers was essential for success.

Mr. G. Santhanam, District Collector, said that Coimbatore had been a pioneer in implementing the drip irrigation scheme, Namakku Naame programmes, Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Project, and establishment of `Uzhavar Santhais'.