NEW DELHI: BJP's ambitious proposal to link rivers across the country is set to get a push with the Water Resources Ministry being asked to prepare a future roadmap.
Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DWS), headed by senior Cabinet Minister Nitin Gadkari, has urged the Water Resources Ministry to prepare a roadmap for interlinking of rivers.
In a letter to the Uma Bharti-headed Ministry, DWS Secretary Pankaj Jain has said that many states have become highly water stressed due to fast depleting underground water and so it is necessary to recharge the ground water table for increasing the supply of surface water within the country.
A copy of the letter dated July 15 has been attached to the PMO. "... increasingly some states have become water stressed and availability of drinking water both from underground sources, reservoirs and dams is depleting speedily in the present drought like situation," Jain said in his letter addressed to Water Resources Ministry Secretary Alok Rawat.
"I would request you to make out a future roadmap/plan for interlinking of rivers and a water grid system in the country and increasing the supply of surface water within the country by reducing surface runoff into the sea so that our ground water use and depletion can be saved," the letter said.
The Ministry said it was "deeply concerned" on this issue due to "frequent demands" from some highly water stressed states like Rajasthan and Karnataka and there is a requirement of augmenting water resources by conserving and using more and more surface water as opposed to using the fast depleting underground water.
However, the Ministry's proposal did not go down well with the states like Kerala, which is strongly opposing it.
Lok Sabha MP N K Premachandran, whose party RSP is a member of the ruling Congress-led UDF in Kerala, said inter linking of rivers should never be allowed unless and until the state concerned gives the permission.
"There are 41 rivers in Kerala which are flowing from east to west. The state is God's own country only because of 41 rivers which are flowing to the Arabian sea. That is why, it has fertile land, it has greenery and the eco-system will be disturbed, if it is diverted to Tamil Nadu or if it is diverted to some other basin," he said.
The interlinking of rivers was the pet plan of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee when the BJP headed NDA government from 1999 to 2004.
In its 2014 election manifesto, the BJP said it will go ahead with previous NDA government's pet project.