NEW DELHI: Apprehensive of an increase in interstate water disputes in near future following the Centre’s decision to increase states’ share of Central revenue and discontinue the erstwhile Planning Commission’s system of annual plan finalisation, the Central Water Commission wants a mechanism of appraisal of dam and irrigation projects by experts in the sector.
The commission, in a letter to Ministry of Water Resources, has said that recent changes have reduced the dependence of the state governments on Central aid.
“It is apprehended that the state government may not get their irrigation and multipurpose projects techno-economically examined by the commission and other Central agencies. The tendency of the state governments to abandon or go slow on ongoing projects and to initiate the new projects with every change in the government may increase, which would deprive the region of the benefits on the investments already made,” said the letter.
Apprehensive that it may start a race amongst state governments to create more and more prescriptive rights to claim more share of interstate rivers, the letter said it might result in “anarchy”.
“Such a scenario would have implications on compliance to Water Disputes Tribunal awards, court directions, interstate and international agreements, dam safety, sustainable development of the state, river basin and the country,” it added.
The commission apprehended that in the absence of any compelling reasons or statutory provisions, individual states may take up water resources projects without giving due consideration to integrated river basin management, optimum development of water resources in regional and national perspectives, leave aside the rights and privileges of co-basin states.
“Such a scenario may not be desirable for sustainable and equitable development of the country. The capacities of individual state to plan and implement projects vary significantly. The appraisal process as it exists now, provides considerable value addition to the quality of proposals and optimises the coast,” it further said.
The commission suggested that the project appraisal procedure be realingned and an official of the commission be added to the Expert Appraisal Committee or the river valley and hydro electric project of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the terms of reference for such projects should include that the project has no adverse international/interstate ramifications,realistic assesments of design flood magnitude and optimised use of available water resources. A commission official said problems had already started between some states, and Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have already approached the ministry registering their protest over new projects being planned in the twin states.
Andhra Pradesh had written to the commission, complaining against Telangana for starting two new lift irrigation projects.