Raje writes to Sonia on water schemes

`Delay creating unrest among people'

Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has asked the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, to help Rajasthan in her capacity as the Chairperson of the National Advisory Council to get clearance of pending water schemes.

The delay in clearance had been creating unrest among the people which often resulted in law and order problems, Ms. Raje said in a letter to Ms. Gandhi.

Writing against the backdrop of recent farmers' agitations over water and Ms. Gandhi's visit to Tonk in the wake of police firing on farmers, Ms. Raje said: "It is not justified that the schemes of a water-deficit State like Rajasthan have to wait for long for approval.''

The projects which have found a mention in her letter are the Indira Gandhi Canal Project, the Yamuna river project, the Bisalpur and the proposed scheme for bringing the Chambal waters to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park near Bharatpur--almost all involving the Congress-ruled States.

Reminding Ms.Gandhi of her promise she made while at Tonk to help the State to expedite pending schemes, Ms.Raje said Punjab was yet to release 0.6 million acre feet of Rajasthan's share of the Ravi-Beas waters under the River Water Agreement of 1981."

Punjab was only temporarily authorized to use 0.60 MAF of Rajasthan's share of 8.60 MAF water till such time the State was in a position to us it.

Even the control of the head works at Ferozpur, Ropar and Harike, which should have been taken over by the Bhakra-Beas Management Board long back, continues to vest with the State of Punjab,'' Ms.Raje said seeking Ms. Gandhi's intervention.

The Chief Minister said two projects on the Yamuna involving 1.119 billion cubic metres water for Rajasthan could not take off as Haryana did not sign the MoU despite repeated requests.

She said the State Government had got the projects cleared from the Central Water Commission after the inter-State agreement among the States of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan was reached in May 1994 but to no avail.

"Because of this delay the districts of Churu, Jhunjhunu and Bharatpur continue to face water scarcity,'' she said.

As for the Bisalpur project, the cause behind severe farmers' unrest in Tonk last month, Ms.Raje sought its inclusion under the Centrally- sponsored schemes of Command Area Development and Water Management(CADWM).

A request in this regard to the Union Minister for Water Resources was rejected, she pointed out. Work on its command area could not be taken up because of its non-inclusion in CADWM, she said.

Ms.Raje said a proposal on a Rs.100- crore dedicated pipeline project from the Chambal to the Keoladeo Park was pending with the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests for approval.

"Despite repeated reminders the sanction is still awaited. If the project could be expeditiously sanctioned it would enable supply of water to the Park on a sustainable basis,'' she said.

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