New Delhi: India’s Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharti on Tuesday called for fast-tracking measures to inter-link rivers.
At a meeting of the parliamentary consultative committee of the Ministry, she said inter-linking would give additional irrigation for 35 million hectares, and generate 34,000 MW of power, according to an official statement. These benefits were in addition to those from flood control, navigation, and water supply, fisheries, salinity and pollution control.
Ms. Bharti said river linking was a project of national importance and its purpose was to provide equitable distribution of water which would especially benefit flood and drought-prone areas. She sought the co-operation of all States.
She told the committee that the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) had identified 30 links, 16 in the peninsula and 14 in the Himalayas for preparation of feasibility reports. Of these, reports of 16 had already been prepared and surveys and investigation of seven other links were also completed with draft feasibility reports ready.
A detailed project report (DPR) of the Daman Ganga-Pinjal link was sent to Maharashtra and Gujarat governments in April. A similar report for the Par-Tapi-Narmada link was under preparation.
The NWDA had received 46 proposals from States for intra-State river linking. Pre-feasibility reports of 33 links had been prepared and sent to States, the statement said.
While there is a lot of opposition to river-linking projects, the MPs seemed to be unanimous in their support to the idea. The statement said the MPs felt that the government should take up this programme in a mission mode and it should be completed in a time-bound manner. One member was of the view that the Centre should seriously consider nationalising rivers. MPs also proposed some river links — Krishna-Godavari, Ganga-Gomti, Sharda-Yamuna, and Pindari-Kosi, among others.