River-linking project may hit a roadblock as four states raise objections
New Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari has put river linking projects on fast track but atleast four states have raised objections on the grounds that they do not have surplus water to divert or that it is a matter of state to decide.
New Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari has put river-linking projects on fast track but atleast four states have raised objections on the grounds that they do not have surplus water to divert or that it is a matter of state to decide, reported Hindustan Times.
Since a state decides how it utilizes its resources such as water, convincing every state and resolving interstate disputes that already exists for water and settling down all objections is important for the success of government's plan.
According to the report, out of the 30 proposed projects, only one — the Ken Betwa Link — has obtained all the necessary clearances from the central government. The government has plans to launch the project by the end of this year.
However, the Ken Betwa project, which will divert excess water from the Ken that flows through Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to the water-deficit Betwa in the Bundelkhand region, is facing objections from both the states as neither of them are giving their approval to the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for Phase I of the project.
Though Gadkari claims that all environmental clearances have been obtained for Ken Betwa, Himanshu Thakkar, the founder at South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) said that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Ken-Betwa project is not valid as the project configuration had changed, so a new EIA is required.
The Bundelkhand region has witnessed 13 droughts in past 15 years (2002-16), and India has spent over Rs 31,000 crore for drought proofing and on drought relief, according to a Centre for Science and Environment report.
Similarly, states like Kerala, Odisha, Telangana, and Karnataka have opposed several river linking projects including Pamba - Achankovil - Vaippar link Project, Mahanadi (Manibhadra) – Godavari link, Godavari (Inchampalli) - Krishna link and Netravati – Hemavati link for varied reasons.
The project also aims to build dams in Nepal and Bhutan, but both the countries have not given their consents to the project. Also, Bangladesh has voiced concerns about the impact of diverting water from the Ganga and Brahmaputra, stated the report.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Rs 5.5 lakh crore pet project aims to end deadly floods and droughts by linking nearly 60 rivers. The project includes linking of the mighty Ganges, which the government hopes will cut farmers' dependence on fickle monsoon rains and bring millions of hectares of cultivatable land under irrigation.
Gadkari had said on Monday that the government is aiming to start the "actual work" on the Ken- Betwa, Damanganga-Pinjal, Par-Tapi-Narmada river-linking and Pancheshwar and North Koel dam projects in the next three months.
The DPRs for the above four projects have been prepared and have been rolled out for getting clearances, said the report.The National Water Development Agency, a nodal body for the project, is conducting pre- feasibility or feasibility studies for the rest of the 16 linking projects identified in the peninsular region and 14 in the Himalayan region.