River interlinking on large scale not practical: Murli Manohar Joshi

Murli Manohar Joshi
NDA government's ambitious project to inter-link rivers is not feasible on a large scale, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who chaired a Parliamentary panel that examined the issue of Ganga rejuvenation, said today.

Joshi said rivers can be inter-linked on small scale but it is not "practical" to go for large-scale interlinking at the national level.

Talking to reporters after tabling a report of the Estimates Committee on Ganga Rejuvenation, the BJP veteran claimed thousands of kilowatts of power will be required to run pump sets to lift water from one end to another.

"It will require power and money. We are short of power as it is...How will water cross the Malwa Plateau. Imagine the number of pumping sets required," he contended.

But, he clarified that river interlinking is not one of the subjects of the Estimates Committee.

He said, had it been practical, then nature itself would have done it. "The rivers would have been inter-connected. But it is not."

The government has identified three projects for interlinking of rivers.

Based on concurrence of the states concerned, three links -- Ken-Betwa link, Damanganga-Pinjal link and Par-Tapi-Narmada link have been taken up for preparation of detailed project reports (DPRs) by the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) out of 30 inter-state links identified under the National Perspective Plan (NPP).

The DPR for Ken-Betwa link project and Damnganga-Pinjal link has been completed by NWDA and submitted to the states concerned.

DPR of Par-Tapi-Narmada link is in various stages of completion and the Supreme Court on February 27, 2012 had directed the government to take up Ken-Betwa link project for implementation at the first instance itself.

According to a government estimate, approximately 35 million hectare of additional irrigation potential and 34,000 mega watts of hydro-power generation are the likely benefits envisaged under NPP, apart from the incidental benefits of flood moderation, navigation, drinking water supply, fisheries, salinity and pollution control.

Joshi, meanwhile, suggested that mass afforestation and rain-water harvesting were practical solutions to fight water crisis.

The river interlinking project is considered the brainchild of the NDA government and in October, 2002, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had formed a task force to get the project going against the backdrop of the acute drought that year.

But, few water and irrigation experts have maintained the idea of inter-linking of rivers was conceived in 1992.

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