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Government lambasted in both Houses

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE, MARCH 31. The Opposition in the Legislative Assembly today took the Government to task for "laxity" in maintaining vigil over what it termed unauthorised construction of a string of irrigation projects in the Krishna Basin by Andhra Pradesh.

The Opposition members demanded that the Government refer the matter to the newly constituted tribunal under the chairmanship of Justice Brijesh Kumar, which is going into the sharing of the surplus waters in the Krishna. Several of them wanted the Government to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court and lead an all-party delegation to New Delhi to bring the matter to the notice of the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

Steps taken: Kharge

The Minister for Irrigation, M. Mallikarjun Kharge, said the Government has taken steps to safeguard the interests of the State. It is improper on the part of the Opposition to cast aspersions on it. Matters of inter-State ramifications such as sharing of river waters should be above political considerations, he said.

21 `illegal' projects

Jagadish Shettar (BJP), who sought to move an adjournment motion, said Andhra Pradesh has taken up 21 "unauthorised" irrigation projects which are a threat to Karnataka. It floated tenders six months ago for the projects, which are estimated to cost nearly Rs. 5,000 crores. None of them has received the approval of the Central Water Commission, he claimed.

It is rather strange that the Karnataka Government has not reacted to the implementation of the projects.

Apparently the "silence" is owing to political considerations since the Congress is a dominant partner in the coalition governments at the Centre and in Karnataka. In Andhra Pradesh too the Congress is in power, Mr. Shettar said. On matters such as interstate river waters issue, the Government is expected to be above party politics.

The Deputy Leader of the BJP group, Govind Karjol, said of the 560 tmcft of surplus waters in the Krishna, the State is entitled for a 50 per cent share which is around 280 tmcft and Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra are entitled for an equal share of 25 per cent each. However, even before Karnataka could commence using the surplus water, Andhra Pradesh is constructing unauthorised projects to siphon of Karnataka's share.

Mr. Karjol said the Government should have allocated at least Rs. 8,000 crores for irrigation works in the budget instead of Rs. 3,900 crores.

`Hidden agenda'

The Leader of the Opposition, B.S. Yediyurappa, said it is rather strange that while Andhra Pradesh is objecting to all the approved projects in Karnataka, the latter is not raising any objection even to "unauthorised" projects in that State.

"There is something more than what meets the eye. There is a hidden agenda or is it because of the political clout that Andhra Pradesh enjoys with the Centre?" he asked.

In the Council

The Opposition in the Legislative Council too made a scathing attack on the Government for its failure to prevent Andhra Pradesh from taking up "illegal" projects in the Krishna Basin.

The Leader of the Opposition, D.H. Shankaramurthy, who moved an adjournment motion on the issue, which was converted by the chair into a subject to be raised under Rule 68, said that in the past 10 months, the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) leaders have shown more concern over land deals related to the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project than losing Krishna waters to neighbouring States.

Mr. Shankaramurthy said the ruling partners are in the dark about Andhra Pradesh completing the tender process for projects and starting work on them in the past six months.

The Government not only failed to object to them but also did not inform the people in the State about the damage the projects will cause to the economy of farmers in northern Karnataka.

United stand

Mr. Shankaramurthy said political parties in Andhra Pradesh united in a protest against Karnataka's plan to take up the Paragodu project for drinking water supply.

The floor leader of the Janata Dal (U), M.P. Nadagouda, said the coalition partners have failed to prevent Andhra Pradesh from illegally utilising Krishna waters.

Unlike Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are fighting for their share of Cauvery and Krishna waters, respectively. Dr. Nadagouda asked whether Karnataka could prevail upon Maharashtra to implement the Supreme Court order to release 200 cusecs of water into the Bhima river.

`Super canal'

Shashil G. Namoshi (BJP) said Karnataka tacitly allowed Andhra Pradesh to build a "super canal" from the Krishna to the Ujaini Dam at a cost of Rs. 2,000 crores.

Maharastra formed 14 "artificial tributaries" from the Krishna Basin rivers to utilise 100 tmcft of water. Without the permission of Central agencies, that State took up huge projects exploiting Karnataka's "soft stand," he added.

The Deputy Leader of the BJP, M.R. Tanga, said Andhra Pradesh launched the Polavaram project without waiting for the Centre's approval.

It ignored the claims of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, and Chhattisgarh to Godavari waters, he added.

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