The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to constitute a ‘special committee' forthwith for inter-linking of rivers for the benefit of the entire nation.
A Bench of Chief Justice S.J. Kapadia and Justices A.K. Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar, in its judgment in a 2002 case relating to networking of rivers, said the committee should submit a bi-annual report to the Union Cabinet, which must consider the report and take decisions.
Writing the judgment, Justice Kumar said: “As pointed out in the report by NCAER and by the Standing Committee, the delay has adversely affected the financial benefits that could have accrued to the concerned parties and the people at large, and is in fact now putting a financial strain on all concerned.”
The Bench said: “This is a matter of national benefit and progress. We see no reason why any State should lag behind in contributing its bit to bringing the inter-linking river programme to a success, thus saving the people living in drought-prone zones from hunger and people living in flood-prone areas from the destruction caused by floods.”
It said: “The NCAER report clearly opines that the interlinking of river projects will prove fruitful for the nation as a whole and would serve a greater purpose by allowing higher returns from the agricultural sector for the benefit of the entire economy. This would also result in providing varied benefits like control of floods, providing water to [the] drought-prone States, providing water to a larger part of agricultural land and even power generation. Besides … benefits to the country, it will help the countries like Nepal etc., uplifting India's international role. Importantly, they also point to a very important facet of interlinking of rivers, i.e., it may result in reduction of some diseases due to the supply of safe drinking water, and thus serve a greater purpose for humanity.”