Tamil Nadu has agreed for talks on reviewing the water sharing agreement under the Parabikulam-Aliyar project (PAP), Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed the state assembly today. The neighbouring state has responded "positively" to a letter written by him to his counterpart, K Palaniswami seeking discussion on PAP.
"The state government recently sent a letter to the Tamil Nadu chief minister seeking discussion over the issue. And now, the neighbouring state has agreed for a discussion... This is a positive development," the Chief Minister said. However, he said the 'violation' of agreement by Tamil Nadu on release of water under PAP to the state is "continuing". But, at the same time, due to the Kerala government's repeated and effective intervention, "the state received more quantity of water during this water year than what it got in earlier times," he said. Vijayan said the Centre had said at a recent meeting of the National Water Development Authority that any final decision on the linking of Pampa-Achakovil with Vypar river in Tamil Nadu would be taken only after Kerala's consent. The chief minister was replying to a notice seeking adjournment motion by Congress-led UDF opposition over closure of the state government's Cauvery Cell functioning at the Kerala House in New Delhi.
Vijayan said it was only related to official work deployment. "...It will not affect any of the pending inter-state water dispute cases including Mullaperiyar, Cauvery water sharing, Neyyar and so on in Supreme Court cases," Vijayan said.
Rejecting opposition charges that the decision to close the two-decade-old cell was "mysterious" and had some "ulterior motives", he said a new committee had been formed under the chairmanship of former Water Resources Secretary V J Kurien and technical experts as members. Besides this, two nodal officers in law and irrigation departments had been appointed for effective coordination to handle cases and ensure necessary technical support. "What the government has done is to form a new mechanism to deal effectively with the inter-state water dispute cases," he added.
Seeking notice for a debate on the matter, former Water Resources Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan (Cong) said the closure of the cell which offered technical support to deal with cases of inter-state water disputes, was suspected to be under the influence of some "external force".
As Speaker denied the opposition demand for a discussion on the issue, oppositon members staged a walkout. Before staging the walkout, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the closure had caused concern about the future conduct of the water dispute cases. However, he said the opposition was not against shifting any non-performing officers and staff. But the closure of the cell that played a key role in the inter-state water dispute cases was not "justifiable", Chennithala added. In the letter, Vijayan had asked Tamil Nadu to release water as per the PAP agreement to meet the drinking water shortage in northern Palakkad district, which is facing an acute drought situation.