Centre to seek States' consensus for interlinking rivers

New Delhi Nov. 13. The Centre will seek consensus of co-basin surplus States before any transfer of water from these basins was done for interlinking rivers, the Minister for Water Resources, Arjun Charan Sethi, told members of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry here today. Only two members attended this crucial meeting.

The implementation would depend on the cooperation extended by the State Governments. The Ministry would constitute a high-level task force on the feasibility of the proposals for interlinking rivers, for devising a suitable mechanism for bringing about a consensus among States, priortisation of projects, implementation and for working out modalities for project funding.

Addressing the members, Mr. Sethi said the need for implementing the concept was perceived long ago and the Ministry had formulated a National Perspective Plan for optimum development and utilisation of water resources through inter-basin transfer of water from surplus to deficit basins. Interlinking would remove the anomaly of regional imbalance in water availability and for attaining an estimated potential of 160 million hectares by 2050. The National Water Development Agency under the Ministry had completed pre-feasibility studies for 30 inter-basin water transfer links (14 under Himalayan and 16 under Peninsular component) for preparation of feasibility reports.

While the reports for six Peninsular links had been completed, surveys and investigations were under way for another 18 links. All feasibility reports were planned to be completed by 2008.

The first major link that is being conceived is the Southern Water Grid interlinking Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery, Pennar and Vaigai in Peninsular India to transfer surplus waters of Mahanadi and Godavari to deficit areas to benefit Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.

The other two are northern links. One is linking Brahmaputra with Ganga, Subernarekha and Mahanadi to transfer surplus water of Brahmaputra to benefit areas in Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa. The other is interlinking Gandak, Ghagra, Sarda and Yamuna (all tributaries of Ganga) to Rajasthan and Sabarmati for transferring surplus waters of Gandak and Ghagra to benefit areas in Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar and Jharkhand.

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