Home / Politics / Policy /  Water wars in store as states compete to roll out new projects

New Delhi: States are rolling out water projects without getting them centrally appraised, increasing the risk of inter-state water wars in a “free for all", Central Water Commission officials have warned.

According to official documents reviewed by Mint, the Central Water Commission has expressed fears that in absence of appraisals by the commission, inter-state water disputes could rise, along the lines of what is already happening between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

“When the Planning Commission was still in place, the irrigation or dam projects of states were getting scrutinized, techno-economically appraised and 10-12 other parameters used to be checked, including inter-state water issues. There was a check on the growth of such projects. But as the Planning Commission was discontinued, it has become a free for all," said a senior Central Water Commission official.

The official said Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are already at loggerheads over many water projects.

The two have approached the Central Water Commission and the Union water resources ministry to intervene in the matter.

In June, the government of Andhra Pradesh wrote to the Central Water Commission, complaining that Telangana was starting two new lift irrigation projects—the Palamuru Rangareddy scheme for Hyderabad and the Nakkalagandi scheme.

However, in the current circumstances, the commission cannot do much or intervene to solve the issue, the official said.

“Such unchecked mushrooming of projects would ultimately waste public money only as more states would go ahead with the project without caring for technical viability or availability of water. We may also see projects getting abandoned and new ones getting launched with a change in government," the Central Water Commission official said.

“You can’t play with thousands of crores of rupees. Some sort of discipline needs to be there as otherwise a race among states will start. Earlier, states used to be told to first complete the already running or announced projects before coming for new ones; but now, it is nothing like that," the official added.

Senior water ministry officials have already been briefed about the matter.

The Central Water Commission wants the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change to change the composition of its Expert Appraisal Committee, which gives clearance to hydro projects by inducting a Central Water Commission official who would help appraise the techno-economic aspects of water projects.

As per the note seen by Mint, the Central Water Commission also wants the Expert Appraisal Committee to ensure that projects have no adverse international or inter-state ramifications; and that they have a realistic assessment of the design flood magnitude and make optimal use of the water resources.

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