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Tuesday, Aug 03, 2004

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Govt to form task force on water management

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Aug 2

FACED with severe floods in some parts of the country and acute water shortage in others, the Government has decided to constitute a task force to look into the problems of the floods and suggest a permanent solution.

Though floods in eastern and north-eastern parts of the country were common, this year the floods were more severe and had affected the life of people considerably, the Union Water Resources Minister, Mr Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, said at a two-day conference of Chief Secretaries to discuss the water-related issues that opened here on Monday.

Stating that there was need for better water management in the country, Mr Dasmunsi said that there was a need for a comprehensive approach on river erosion and flood management programmes.

Increasing demand had led to inter-State disputes on water sharing, he said, adding that the "inter-State issues should be sorted out amicably in the interest of the nation."

As a follow-up to the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram's Budget announcement regarding priority to "last mile" projects under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), Mr Dasmunsi said that the scheme would be restructured next year.

The Minister said that it was often found that State Governments did not show matching contributions under the scheme, which prevented them from availing themselves of the funds released by the Centre.

The Finance Minister had announced an outlay of Rs 2,800 crore under AIBP this year and said that truly last mile projects, which could be completed by March 2005, would be given overriding priority. Out of 178 large and medium projects identified under the scheme, only 28 had been completed.

In response to a query on the demand by Andhra Pradesh for release of Krishna waters from the Alamatti reservoir in Karnataka, Mr Dasmunsi said that he had spoken to the Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr N. Dharam Singh, after an Andhra Pradesh delegation met him seeking the release of water.

"Karnataka is not legally bound to release water but some water may have to be released keeping the humanitarian aspect in mind," he said.

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