The Centre today virtually ruled out linking of national rivers given the ecological and human costs involved in the project.

Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh pointed to the amount of land to be involved and the people displaced if one were to link the Brahmaputra River with a peninsular one, for example.

“...then, who knows, why play with nature?” he said in Bangalore.

“If we start linking rivers, how do we know how these rivers are going to behave? What about changing course of rivers? What about climate change that’s going to happen? ”

While noting that (small) rivers were being linked from time immemorial and even today on a small-scale, the “grandiose solutions” such as garland canal and linking of north-eastern rivers with peninsular ones did not find favour from him.

Mr. Ramesh quipped: “Engineers must be read, not necessarily implemented.”

While linking of national rivers is a “very attractive concept”, he said he has become more and more ambivalent about techno-fixations as he has grown older though he is a product of a technological institution and culture.

“There are limits to techno-interventions. We tend to underestimate the human and ecological costs”, he said.

Mr. Ramesh also said Bangladesh, for example, is worried about river-linking contending that Ganga is an international river, adding, projecting linking of rivers as a “simplistic panacea” for dealing with drought is not correct.