Declare Interlinking of Rivers a National Project:Karunanidhi

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New Delhi, Dec 19 (UNI) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today asked the Centre to declare as a ''National Project'' the interlinking of rivers for its time-bound implementation and unveiled a long list of other demands for accelerated development of his state.

Addressing the 54th National Development Council meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr Karunanidhi sought resolution of inter-state river water disputes and simplification of the funds allocation procedure for the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP).

Among his other main demands were Central compensation for waiving cooperative farm loans, a special scheme to provide assistance to Tamil Nadu under Bharat Nirman and a hike in the plinth area of houses under Indira Awas Yojana from 210 sq ft to 325 sq ft and the financial assistance from Rs 25,000 to Rs 1,00,000 per house.

Heaping praises on UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for ensuring implementation of several welfare schemes, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister assured the Centre that the state government would be in the ''forefront'' in all the constructive efforts to successfully implement the 11th Five Year Plan, which the meeting considered for approval today.

''In the last NDC meeting, I had strongly advocated for inclusion and funding of interlinking of the peninsular rivers in the first instance during the 11th Plan itself.

''I would once again reiterate that the interlinking of rivers should be declared as a National Project and a time-bound Action Plan should be implemented,'' he said.

Any further delay in the implementation of this project would be detrimental to the development of the country. Further, it was common knowledge inter-state river water disputes were straining inter-state relations.

''If unresolved, such disputes may pose a threat to the very unity and integrity of this country,'' he said.

In the interest of harmony among the states, it was imperative that all such disputes were resolved under the existing laws of the land and all the states respect and abide by the decisions of the competent authorities, the Chief Minister said.

Mr Karunanidhi also demanded that the Centre fund projects for linking of intra-state rivers as agreed at the previous NDC meeting.

Further, the Centre should fund the state for providing free LPG connections and gas stoves to poor families under the Bharat Nirman Scheme.

Tamil Nadu should not be penalised for already implementing rural development programmes by denial of funds under Bharat Nirman, aimed at providing basic amenities in rural areas, he said.

UNI

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