Water

Scheme to interlink rivers on fast track, govt tells Parliament

Work on at least four such projects is set to start soon as the detailed project reports are ready

 
By Shagun Kapil
Last Updated: Friday 22 November 2019
The scheme to interlink rivers across India is on the fast track. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A panoramic view of the Ken river. Photo: Wikimedia Commons A panoramic view of the Ken river. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Centre's ambitious project to interlink rivers is on fast track and the work on at least four such projects is set to start soon as the detailed project reports (DPRs) are ready, the Union Jal Shakti Ministry said in a written reply in Parliament on November 21, 2019.  

The Ken-Betwa, Damanganga-Pinjal, Par-Tapi-Narmada, and Godavari-Cauvery links had been selected for preparing DPRs and the final reports for the first three had been sent to the respective states, the reply said. 

Under the Ken-Betwa link project, the country's first inter-state river linking project, a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for implementation has been sent to the Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh governments, even though a stage two forest clearance and an authorisation from Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court on its phase one clearance was pending. 

The committee had raised objections on the wildlife clearance given to the project in the first phase as it can harm the ecosystem of Panna Tiger Reserve and had questioned the project's viability and optimality. 

The comprehensive DPR projected the cost of the project at over Rs 35,000 crore. 

Under the Damanganga-Pinjal link, a techno-economic clearance was accorded after a forest clearance for diversion of 1,674 hectares of forest land and the clearance for rehabilitation and resettlement of the tribal population from the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs. 

Similarly, for the Par-Tapi-Narmada link, the DPR was sent to Central Water Commission (CWC) for technical appraisal. 

A combined MoU for the implementation of the Damanganga-Pinjal link and Par-Tapi-Narmada link had been sent to the governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat for concurrence, the reply said. 

A draft DPR for the Godavari-Cauvery link was also sent to the states of Karnataka, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu in March this year, following which, the states sent their suggestions and comments, which are under consideration. 

Initially, as many as 30 links were considered by the National Water Development Agency for the project under the government's National Perspective Plan (NPP). Out of these, 14 involved the Himalayan component and 16 involved the Peninsular component.

Pre-feasibility reports were prepared for all the links, followed by feasibility reports. However, at least 12 were found non-feasible or were withdrawn by the state governments. 

While the rest are in different stages vis-a-vis preparation of feasibility reports and DPRs, the government, for now, is focusing on the four in which DPRs have been completed. 

The ministry also listed the main problems involving implementation of the projects including problem in consensus among party states, funding for implementation, implementation mechanism and international issues (projects involving other countries).  

In the reply, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat also said the implementation of NPP was likely to raise the ultimate irrigation potential through surface and ground water resources from 140 million hectares to 175 million hectares and had the potential to generate 34 million kilowatt of power. 

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.