M A I N   N E W S

No consensus on sharing of waters
Northern Zonal Council meets after 6 yrs
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 25
No headway was made towards resolving any of the contentious issues like sharing of water and power at the meeting of the Northern Zonal Council held after six years, here today.

There was, however, a broad agreement among the states over inconsequential issues concerning transport, disaster management, implementation of right to information Act and the employment guarantee scheme. Punjab and Haryana stuck to their opposite stands even as Mr Shivraj Patil, Union Home Minister, informed the meeting that the issue of sharing of inter-state river waters had been included in the terms of reference of the new commission on Centre state relations.

Mr Patil, while briefing mediapersons after the meeting, said the commission would be asked to find ways for sharing of waters and power.

However, he was non-committal on the demand of Punjab for setting up another tribunal for water sharing to take into consideration the changed hydrological ,ecological and sociological factors. The states had been asked to hold talks to resolve vexed issues.

The states appreciated the need to construct bypass for major cities, which fell on interstate highways. Detail proposals would be worked out by the authorities concerned and the state governments. The Centre could also assist in the matter if required, Mr Patil said.

There was consensus on disaster management and the states agreed to have an effective mechanism in place to deal with disasters. Mr Patil said the disaster management Bill was likely to be passed during the winter session but the Centre had already set up a national disaster authority. Similar authorities would be set up at state and district levels across the country.

The issue of National Capital Region and regional capital was also discussed. Every year, over 5 lakh people migrated to Delhi putting tremendous pressure on the city. It was decided peripheries of the city would be developed as the National Capital Region with Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh contributing their bit by way of development of satellite towns. A similar strategy would be adopted for Chandigarh which was coming up as a regional capital.

The states also appreciated the need for making efforts for the export of fruit, vegetables, seeds and medicinal plants for which there was a vast scope in the Himalayan states.

Regarding the starting of regional air services, Mr Patil said the aviation sector had been opened to the private sector and the states which wanted to have their own services could do so without any problems.

Earlier, the Union Home Minister lamented that zonal councils were not meeting regularly. While the northern zonal council met today after six years, some other councils had not met once even in 10 years.

He said out of the 15 recommendations made at the last meeting, seven had been implemented which included compassionate appointment of a family member of security personnel killed in militant encounters, sales tax reforms, use of multi-axle vehicles, checking of highway robberies and the Rewari-Bhiwani rail link. He pointed out that some states had not implemented the recommendations of the state finance commissions regarding the devolution of funds to panchayati raj institutions. 


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