NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to inter-link rivers (ILRs) across the country will have one more project, bringing the total number to 31. The new link plans to bring surplus water from Sharda on the Indo-Nepal border to the parched Yamuna near Delhi via Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
Modi had even discussed the feasibility of this link with his Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koirala during his maiden visit to the neighbouring country as Prime Minister in August.
Nepal is learnt to have agreed to cooperate, in the same way it promised extend its cooperation in the case of other proposed inter-linking of river projects in northern India.
Sources privy to preliminary facts of the new proposed project said that the 31st ILR, once implemented, would help the Yamuna to have ‘uninterrupted’ flow of water between Delhi and Agra and even beyond till the point the river Chambal joins it and gives it a normal flow.
“The Uttarakhand government has agreed for the new proposed project as the link would pass through the state. We need to take consent from Uttar Pradesh as well before moving ahead with the new link”, said an official.
He said the cleanliness of the Yamuna and development of the river front in Delhi would largely depend on the success of the proposed link as ‘uninterrupted’ flow is a prerequisite to keep any river clean.
Since the Modi government has decided not to go ahead with any of the ILRs unless riparian states give their assent, the Union water resources and Ganga rejuvenation minister Uma Bharti has been trying to build consensus while taking up the matter with various states.
So far, the Union cabinet has approved only the Ken-Betwa river link project as it got consent from both Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
The other links are at different stages of developments including making ‘detailed project report’ (DPR) and consultation with the states amid resistance from environmentalists who have been opposing ILRs. They feel that such projects would be disastrous for ecology and bio-diversity.
Though most of the states agree in principle to go for ILR on case-to-case basis, Odisha has completely opposed the concept. The state has not even sent its representative to the Centre for any meetings on the subject so far. Kerala is also among the naysayers but it participated in discussions suggesting dos and don’ts for the peninsular rivers.
The ILR project, which was first conceived during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure but went in to cold storage during the UPA regime, has two components — peninsular and Himalayan. Both the components together have 30 river-linking projects. New proposed link will be the 31st ILR.
The peninsular component, involving the rivers in southern India, envisaged developing a ‘Southern Water Grid’ with 16 river linkages in different states. It primarily includes diversion of the surplus waters of Mahanadi and Godavari to Pennar, Krishna, Vaigai and Cauvery rivers.
The Himalayan component will have 15 river linkages including the new one. It was conceived for building storage reservoirs on the Ganga and the Brahmaputra and their main tributaries both in India and Nepal.
The government has claimed that the ILR projects, if fully implemented, will make water available for irrigating 35 million hectares, generate hydro-electricity to the tune of 34,000MW and control floods in many states.
Source : The Times of India