River-linking to cost Rs. 5-lakh crore

The government expects to spend a massive Rs 5,60,000 crore on various river interlinking (ILR) projects, according to a statement by Minister of State, Water Resources, Sanjeev Balyan in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

Though this is only a projection and not timebound — as none of these projects are underway and costs could be dramatically revised — it’s roughly four per cent of India’s economy, now valued at Rs 1,35,00,000 crore, and significantly more than what India spends on either scientific research, the social sector or defence.

Could be revised

The National Water Development Agency — the central agency that plans and prepares cost estimates for such projects — has so far identified 16 peninsular rivers and 14 Himalayan rivers that could potentially be linked to transfer water.

“These are sensitive to revision assuming that all projects come through,” said a top official in the Water Resources Ministry. “But not all may be realised due to interstate disputes. Interlinks within states are more feasible,” he said. He added that the project estimates had not significantly changed since last year.

ILR projects at the most advanced state of planning are those involving building canals and storage connecting the Ken and Betwa rivers in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh; the Damanganga and Pinjal rivers involving water from Gujarat and Maharashtra. Pre-feasibility reports of 36 Intra-State link proposals out of 46 proposals of Intra-State links had also been completed, the Minister added.

Ken-Betwa link

The controversial Ken-Betwa link that will partially submerge the Panna Tiger sanctuary, is yet to be cleared by the National Wild Life Board and discussions are on between the Water Resources Ministry and the Ministry of Environment and Forests to mitigate the potential loss of forests. The Government is planning to begin implementing this as a model ILR project, which will benefit the drought prone areas of Bundelkhand region. . The peninsular component of the project could likely cost Rs 1,85,000 crore and the Himalayan Rs 3,75,000 crore.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 6:05:39 PM |

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