Our Bureau

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb. 7

THE Centre has decided to remove the Pampa-Achankovil-Vaipar link project from the priority list in response to persistent pleas from Kerala, the Water Resources Minister, Mr Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, said the State Assembly on Tuesday.

In reply to a submission, the Minister told the House that the State would continue with efforts for total scrapping of the proposal as it was against its interests as also violative of the Constitution.

He explained that prior consent of the State was necessary for utilising its waters for other purposes. Any decision to the contrary would amount to violation of the Constitution, he added.

The Minister noted that Kerala had time and again pointed out to the Centre and the authorities of the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) that the estimations on the basis of which the river-linking project had been drawn up were grossly exaggerated.

NWDA had drawn up the project based on its finding that Pampa and Achenkovil had excess water and that 22.5 tmc feet could be diverted from them to Vaipar basin in Tamil Nadu.

But, according to a study conducted by the Centre for Water Development and Management of the Kerala Government, there was no excess water in the two rivers and that there would actually be a serious water shortage in 2050.

The State had presented its case at different meetings of NWDA and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture. The State had also requested the Prime Minister to ask NWDA to give up the proposal, the Minister said.

PDS rice, wheat prices

: The Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Adoor Prakash, informed the House that the State Government was firmly opposed to any increase in the prices of PDS rice and wheat.

Responding to a calling attention motion, he said the Government had communicated its opposition in this regard to the Centre in clear terms and also requested the MPs from the State to take it up in Parliament. The State Government strongly favoured the continuance of universal rationing, he said.

Though there were news reports that the Centre had decided to increase the prices of PDS rice and wheat, the State Government had not received any communication in this regard. Later, there were also reports that the decision had been put on hold.

During his last visit to Delhi, the Chief Minister had met the Prime Minister and conveyed to him the State's opposition to any hike in the prices, the Minister said.

`Technocity' project

: The Finance Minister, Mr Vakkom Purushothaman, said that the Government was planning to acquire only 500 acres of land at Pallipuram in Thiruvananthapuram for setting up the proposed `Technocity'. He denied the allegation that the officials concerned had indulged in foul play and notified 732 acres as the extent of land to be acquired. Although the notification covered 732 acres, only 500 acres would be acquired, he added.

The Minister, who was deputing for the Chief Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, appealed to the Opposition leaders to intervene in the matter and help the Government to go ahead with the project in the larger interests of the State. Only 36 families would be affected in the land acquisition process and they would be relocated in one corner of the acquired land, he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 8, 2006)
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