‘Water-rich states hesitate to transfer water to needy areas’

NEW DELHI, Sept 12:
Against the backdrop of inter-state water disputes, Government today said while surplus water is allowed to go waste, there is a hesitation to transfer it to regions facing scarcity.
Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal also said that people uprooted due to developmental projects likes dams should be made partners in progress so that Governments are able to get their support for such schemes.
He lamented that while people are “okay with the water going waste”, they are not receptive to the idea of sitting across the table to discuss issue of inter-basin transfer.
“We are not even prepared to sit across the table to discuss issues and see how best we can utilise this for the mutual benefit of the entire populace of the country,” he said addressing a seminar on river interlinking.
Bansal said interlinking does not mean depriving one region of water and taking it to the other. “What we say is that if there is surplus water in a basin which can legitimately be transferred to the deficit regions without impacting the economy of the surplus region, why should we not attempt to transfer that.”
Secretary, Water Resources Dhruv Vijai Singh was more vocal when he said that states with abundant water resources show themselves as water scarce when it come to inter-basin transfer.
“…Even water rich states like Kerala have declared in their water policy that Kerala is a water deficit state. So here we have a status where states say we do not have excess water,” Singh said.
Referring to the opposition of West Bengal to share Teesta waters with Bangladesh, he said, “West Bengal on the Teesta River does not use more than five per cent of its water for irrigation.
“It uses upto 30 per cent for generation of power in its canal power houses. Yet its Government says we shall not give more than 25 per cent of our water to Bangladesh even though there is no storage possible,” he said.
Referring to a protest by villagers in Madhya Pradesh opposing raising water level of Omkareshwar Dam, Bansal said, “We have to convince them that they are partners in progress. For ages these people have remained at one place generation after generation. And today we just want them to just be uprooted from there.”
Bansal said progress and development of others means little to the displaced when they see that even if they have to be resettled somewhere, they are being uprooted from their place of origin. (PTI)