The Centre should consider establishing national waterways just like the national highways, said A.C.Kamaraj, member of the expert committee on Centre’s Inter-linking of Rivers Project.

Prof. Kamaraj told reporters in Madurai on Monday that by preserving floodwater flowing into sea, water problem could be solved to a great extent and complaints of drinking water shortage might become a thing of the past. The national waterways, comprising Himalayan Waterways (HWW), Central Waterways (CWW) and Southern Waterways (SWW), would cover almost all the States in the central and southern regions and reach up to Kanyakumari, if networked properly.

The Himalayan Waterways, according to the expert, run at an even height of 500 metres above Mean Sea Level (MSL), the Central Waterways run at an average height of 250 meters above MSL and the Southern Waterways at about 10 metres above MSL.

“We can generate enormous power by utilising the level difference between the HWW and the CWW as well as among the CWW, SWW, and the sea,” he noted.

As the waterways run at a predetermined contour level, water is transferable from one region to the other, Prof.Kamaraj said. When the Brahmaputra is in spate and when the water in the Ganga region is less, the water can flow from the Brahmaputra to the Ganga region.

Asserting that there would not be any dearth for water anywhere in the country -- be it irrigation for drinking purpose, he said. There was a scope for more area under cultivation. Floodwater, instead of going waste, would be stored in the national waterways.

When the project is established, floods would be controlled to a large extent and as there would be no pumping of water from any region, there need not be any apprehension for any State, he clarified.

No displacement problem

Moreover, land acquisition for the project would be just 2 per cent of the irrigated land compared to other conventional projects, which required 6 to 10 per cent land. This reduced the displacement problem, Prof. Kamaraj said, and added that jobs could be created and uninterrupted drinking water would be available for an additional 600 million people.

Hydro-electric power generation was possible from the project and a whopping 150 million acres of land would turn cultivable across the country, he said.

Further, with States like Bihar and Tamil Nadu giving their nod to the project in principle, others including, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, had inclination to accept it, he claimed.

When China had waterways covering over 1.20 lakh kilometres, India had not covered even one kilometre, Prof.Kamaraj said.

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