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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Review sought of river deals

Ranchi, Oct. 3: Deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto today demanded review of all old inter-state river water agreements, arguing that they did not serve Jharkhand’s interest.

He also stressed on the need to amend provisions of the Damodar Valley Reservoir Regulatory Commission and proportional sharing of Mayurakshi basin waters.

Addressing a water resources ministers’ conference in Delhi, Mahto argued that the DVC controlled five major reservoirs. Of them, four — Tilaiya, Maithon, Panchet and Konar — were in Jharkhand. A sizeable portion of land in the state remained inundated throughout the year because of them. However, the state received only 25 per cent of the reservoirs’ water for irrigation. Similarly, the Masanjore dam in Mayurakshi basin was in Jharkhand, but his government had no control over it. The entire submerged area too was in the state, but it barely received 25-30 per cent of the water for irrigation.

“The different agreements were signed by the erstwhile Bihar government. But, Jharkhand is a new state. The Centre ought to intervene and administer justice to our state. Considering the steady increase in population, water is going to become a very important natural resource in the coming days,” he added.

The deputy chief minister said Jharkhand was a plateau area and hence, minor irrigation schemes would be more successful. Under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), minor irrigation projects were approved for such reservoirs whose command area was at least 50,000 hectare. For Jharkhand, it should be relaxed to 20,000 hectare, he said.

Extension, renovation and modernisation of over 100 decades-old medium irrigation projects in Jharkhand too needed to be given proper attention and execution of more new schemes may be considered. Regular guidance of Central Water Commission experts too was very important, Mahto pointed out, adding that the CWC office in Ranchi needed to be strengthened.

Mahto said sustainable inter-state basin transfer programme needed to be given priority to meet the new challenges of agriculture, industries and drinking water supply in urban areas as the ground water level in cities like Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Deoghar and Hazaribagh was slipping down steadily.

He also thanked Union water resources minister Pawan Bansal for extending support to Subernarekha Multipurpose Project and maintained that this ambitious project would be completed in record time.