The proposed Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP) has come to the centre stage of demands raised by the State after the formation of the new government at the Centre, with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot reminding Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the promises made in his election rallies for declaring it a national project.
The previous BJP government in the State had also lobbied for the Centre’s approval for the ambitious project with an estimated budget of ₹40,000 crore as a major initiative for interlinking of rivers.
The project proposes to transfer excess waters from the Chambal river basin to 13 districts facing water scarcity.
The Central Water Commission has already given in-principle approval to the project’s feasibility report, while the Union Ministry of Water Resources had reportedly finalised a Cabinet note on it last year.
Besides supplying drinking water in 13 districts, the mega project will also provide water for rrigation to an additional 2 lakh hectares.
At the 5th Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog held in New Delhi on Saturday, Mr. Gehlot said that national project status to ERCP would facilitate solution to the water scarcity issue in eastern and south-eastern districts of the State, at least till 2051.
It will also supply water to the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and take care of the flood and drought situation in the area. The project, linking Parvati, Kalisindh and Chambal rivers, is expected to benefit 40% of the State’s population with the supply of drinking and irrigation water, as the quality of water is a big issue here.
The ERCP will ensure availability of water in Jhalawar, Baran, Kota, Bundi, Sawai Madhopur, Ajmer, Tonk, Jaipur, Dausa, Karauli, Alwar, Bharatpur and Dholpur districts and create an additional command area of 2 lakh hectares for irrigation. It will also facilitate restoration of dependable yield of the existing 26 major and medium irrigation projects en route — reduced to 30% — to their original status.
Mr. Gehlot also raised the issues of rainwater harvesting and drought management at the NITI Aayog meeting and asked the Centre to release the first instalment of ₹370 crore to the State for the current year under the National Drinking Water Project as well as a review of the Centre-State sharing ratio for the Integrated Watershed Management Project.