30th Southern Zonal Council meet: Solve water-sharing disputes amicably, Amit Shah tells states

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday exhorted southern states to find amicable solutions to end all outstanding issues, especially those related to river water sharing.

In his address at the 30th Southern Zonal Council meet in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday, Shah said that the objective of the meeting was to promote regional cooperation among states on issues of common national importance.

The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu; the Lieutenant Governors of Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands; and the Administrator of Lakshadweep. During the meeting, 26 issues were discussed, nine were resolved, 17 were reserved for further consideration, of which nine were related to the reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh.

Shah urged Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to settle their pending issues, which will not only benefit the people of their states but also lead to all-round development of the entire southern region.

He said the Home Ministry has been trying to check the narcotics problem, while stressing on the need for regular NCORD (Narco Coordination Centre) meetings among states. A policy for establishing forensic science laboratories has been prepared and sent to the states, he said, adding this will increase the conviction rate.

The Home Minister said since 2015, Rs 4,206 crores have been sanctioned for the Fisheries Infrastructure Development Fund scheme in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. He said QR-enabled PVC Aadhaar cards have been provided to more than 12-lakh fishermen.

In his address, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stressed on cooperative federalism. “Fruitful discussions are needed on the proposed legislation based on the entries in the Concurrent List of Seventh Schedule of our Constitution before they are enacted by Parliament. There can be contestations, but through discussions and debates, consensus can emerge…this is the essence of a healthy federal democracy,’’ he said.

Vijayan said fiscal empowerment of the Union and the states are of equal importance to make for the impact of the pandemic on the economy. “The Union government should take a proactive stand to enable the states to undertake productive spending to galvanise the economy,” he said.

Vijayan also brought to the attention of the council the issues of coastal erosion, upgrade of railway and airport infrastructure.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin urged the Centre to create a high-speed rail corridor, connecting specific locations within Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states. Such a move would be much more economical, more energy efficient and less polluting than aero planes and automobiles, he contended.

Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan sought Rs 2,200-crore Central assistance for critical infrastructure projects, including airport expansion in the Union Territory (UT), while renewing the demand for land from neighbouring Tamil Nadu for the airport expansion.

With PTI inputs