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Govt seeks legal advice on water allocation powers for panel

The development follows a demand made by certain senior ministers during the state Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Mumbai | Published: October 13, 2013 2:21:15 am

The state administration has decided to seek legal advice on the demand for restoration of powers of

the controversial high-powered committed (HPC) on irrigation.

The development follows a demand made by certain senior ministers during the state Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Headed by the water resources minister,the committee originally enjoyed powers to approve proposals for reservation of dam waters for non-irrigation purposes.

But on April 22,2011,in wake of allegations of illegal diversion of water meant for irrigation purposes,the government decided to modify norms,with the Cabinet retaining all water allocation powers to itself.

The law and judiciary department had said it would be legally incorrect to restore HPC’s powers when an opinion was sought in 2012,a senior official said.

However,it has now been decided to seek a legal opinion again following the demand from ministers.

In 2011,Pune-based NGO Prayas had alleged that the HPC illegally diverted 1983.4 cubic metres of water from 41 dams to industry and domestic use between 2003 and 2011,affecting 3.23 lakh hectares.

The HPC was originally responsible for approving proposals for allocation of water for non-irrigation use in cases where the water sought was 25% or more of the storage capacity of the reservoir. The chief engineer approved

proposals below 15% whereas an inter-secretarial panel decided proposals for allocation of water between 15% to 25%.

The cabinet,however,became the sole authority to take decisions on water allocations after the amendment of the norms.

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