Chief minister Keshubhai Patel strongly advocated for Narmada dam affirming that the tribunals decision in inter-state water disputes should be treated as a Supreme Court order as recommended by Sarkaria Commission.
Mr Patel was speaking at the fourth meeting of the National Water Resources Council held at New Delhi. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Mr Patel said some basin states are frigid in implementing the orders of the tribunal and sought intervention of the Centre in implementation of the tribunals orders.
Mr Patel stressed on the need for financial assistance from the Centre in the case of big projects, as international funding institutions do not provide finance for dams and storage projects. He said large projects should be considered as projects of
national importance and the Centre should bear its financial burden.
The chief minister supported the draft National Water Policy, 1998 advocating financial participation of private sector in the irrigation sector but reiterated that awards given on disputes by Tribunals should be enforced in letter and spirit in a time
Mr Patel said the award should be binding on all concerned states and there should be no margin left for appeal as it costs the project heavily. He stressed on the need for the provision of timely enforcement of awards in the National Water Policy.
The state would have been in a better position to tackle the drought situation if it had access to its allocated share of the Narmada waters, the chief minister said. Mr Patel said about 2,470 crores cubic metre Narmada water flowed down into the sea in a
short spell of four days and that too at a time when 9,000 villages in the state and some major urban centres affecting two crores people were facing a severe water crisis.
The wasted water could have quenched the thirst of the people for the next 18 years, he added. Mr Patel said the theory of Jiyo Aur Jeene Do (live and let live) should be incorporated into the national policy for the progress of the country. Mr Patel said
the state should be permitted to issue tax-free bonds to augment the development programme.
Mr Patel was accompanied by small and medium irrigation minister Nitin Patel, secretary Narmada and major irrigation projects M.I. Mehta, secretary water resources M.S. Patel, ex-officio secretary and director Sardar Sarovar Nigam Limited N.B. Desai,
principal resident commissioner Sunil Sud and his principal secretary P.K. Laheri.