Indian Water Resources Body Denies Access to Material

7 August 2014

The Water Resources Department in the Indian state of Kerala has ordered that documents and information related to inter-state water issues not be disclosed under the Right to Information Act, according to an article in the Deccan Chronicle and another in the Hindu.

A July 22 departmental order cites Section 8 of the RTI Act. The section protects information “disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.”

The documents should be withheld until the resolution of various cases pending before the Supreme Court and other courts, the official also said.

It Hindu’s reporter notes that the department “had earlier declined a request from this correspondent under the RTI Act for a copy of the Mullaperiyar Dam Break Analysis on the ground that the details sought came under the `purview of strategic interests of the State’ mentioned in Section 8.”

The general secretary of the Kerala RTI Federation has filed a complaint challenging the order.

The Supreme Court recently permitted a higher water level behind the dam.

In a separate order, the state has asked government and non-government agencies not to make public matters related to interstate water and river basin maps, The Times of India reported.

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