Panel set up to resolve dam dispute

The Hindu, [4 June 2001]

RAIPUR, JUNE 3. The Centre has set up a high-power committee to sort out issues relating to the construction of Inchampalli dam across Indravati river in Andhra Pradesh. The tribunal will also look into the inter-state river water disputes involving Chhatisgarh. This was conveyed to the State Chief Minister, Mr. Ajit Jogi, through a letter by the Union Water Resources Minister, Mr Arjun Charan Sethi. The Minister has assured Mr. Jogi that the interest of Chhatisgarh would be kept in mind before any work on the dam starts. The Chief Minister had earlier sought the intervention of the Ministry since the construction of the dam across the river on Chhatisgarh and Andhra Pradesh border would adversely affect the flow of river water, which is the main source of water for several districts in the State.

As it is, the flow of water from Indravati has been restricted due to the construction of temporary dams by the villagers on the Orissa-Chhatisgarh border, where the river has changed its course partially and flows backwards through Jora stream.

Mr. Sethi informed the Chief Minister that the issues relating to the dispute over the distribution of river waters between Chhatisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa will be looked into by the committee which would include proposals for construction of dams. Members from the Central Water Commission have been included in the committee. A special task force, comprising chief engineers of Chhatisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, has been constituted to resolve the controversies arising out of construction of Inchampalli and Polavaram dams across Godavari river in A.P. and Maharashtra respectively.

Meanwhile, the State Government is still awaiting the decision of the Central Water Commission over the dispute arising out of the construction of temporary dam on Indravati on Orissa border which has drastically reduced the flow of river water in Chhatisgarh.

The villagers check the flow of water into Chhatisgarh on the border where the river changed its course about a decade ago. A major part of the water flows back into Orissa via Jora stream and whatever little comes to Chhatisgarh is stopped by the villagers.

The two States have had several rounds of futile talks to resolve the issue but the matter was referred to the Central Water Commission by Mr. Ajit Jogi after he became the Chief Minister.