Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Friday backed the Centre’s proposal to have a single permanent tribunal to take up all inter-state disputes over river waters.
“There is nothing wrong in it. Instead of separate tribunals for every dispute, one tribunal is good. They can take up all the water disputes and send us (states) their views. Only in India we have to sort out all water dispute problems,” Naidu said after laying the foundation stone for concrete works for the Polavaram multipurpose project here on Friday.
Naidu batting for a single tribunal comes at a crucial time when many states, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, have been bickering over sharing of water from rivers flowing through the state.
Naidu also pushed for interlinking of rivers to address water shortage in many states. The Polavaram project, he said, is an example of how surplus water from the Godavari river, which flows into the Bay of Bengal, is now utilised and diverted to the drought-prone Krishna basin. “We will take the surplus water to other parts of the state. Once there is surplus in the state then we can share with others,” he said.
The first phase of the Polavaram project will be completed by 2018. “This year we have completed nearly `2,200 crore worth of work. On Wednesday, we were given `1,918 crore by the Centre. Now funds are available. Work is going on schedule. There is no other way as one day of delay costs anywhere between `25 crore to `30 crore,” Naidu said.
Polavaram was declared a national project in 2009 with the Centre agreeing to fund the irrigation component. It was first conceptualised in 1941 by the British. The project faced huge delays with the initial cost of `10,000 crore increasing several-fold. It was during former Andhra CM Rajsekhar Reddy’s time that the project got a fresh impetus.