Amid growing environmental concerns attached to the river linking project, an expert has come up with an “eco-friendly” method to connect the water bodies with grids so that states can share the resources according to their requirements.

“Interlinking of Rivers project (ILR) is not viable in its present form. We have, therefore, come up with a new proposal -- National Waterways Project (NWP),” A C Kamaraj, member of ILR panel, told PTI on Sunday.

Kamaraj, who is also chairman of a Madurai-based NGO -- National Waterways Development Council -- said, “Unlike ILR where once water given to other state cannot be drawn back, under NWP there is no problem in sharing water as it is water grid and no state is a giver and every state is a receiver. It is a win-win situation for all.”

“NWP, a different and viable concept, is acceptable to many states like West Bengal, Kerala and Karnataka and we are pursuing other states. Bihar has already accepted it for implementation”, he said, adding it is also an environment friendly plan.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently said that it was necessary to look into the fact whether there are any environmental hazards in the inter-linking of rivers.

“The issue of inter-linking of rivers has been going on for long. We have also been working on this. But the job is not so easy,” he said.

The Prime Minister said “along with this, we have to look into whether there are any environment hazards in inter-linking of rivers. If these are not looked into, this work cannot move forward.”

Earlier, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi and Union Minister for Environment Jairam Ramesh had also expressed apprehensions about the project saying it would be an “environmental disaster“.

“The interlinking of rivers will be a human-ecological-economic disaster. Interlinking of rivers has limited basin value, but large scale interlinking would be a disaster,” Mr. Ramesh said.

The BJP criticised the Union minister’s remarks on the project, which was vigorously pursued by the NDA when it was in power at the Centre, and said “he has not put forth any new evidence to prove his claim“.

“The main hurdle in the implementation of ILR is that it is not getting acceptance from the concerned states. The states with surplus water are not willing to spare water fearing that they may need it in future,” Mr. Kamaraj said.

He said, “assuming that the states agree for ILR, the links among them will create more problems in sharing of water than solving it. We already have enough such problems between states like Punjab and Haryana, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and we do not want this list to go endless”.

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