NEW DELHI: Even as suspense continues over commissioning of country’s first river interlinking project Ken-Betwa, a parliamentary panel has recommended to the Centre to constitute an empowered group of state ministers on Interlinking of Rivers on the pattern of state finance ministers on Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The panel in its report ‘Comprehensive Agriculture Research based on Geographical Conditions and Impact of Climatic Changes to ensure Food Security in the Country’ observed that projects for interlinking of river are crucial to solve the problems of water scarcity in various parts of country.
The recommendations come at a time when country’s first Ken-Betwa river linking has hit a roadblock following objections by Madhya Pradesh and denial to issue no-objection certificate needed for its final approval.
“River interlinking will also be crucial to face challenges related to water resource management due to climatic changes associated with global warming,” said the parliamentary standing committee on Agriculture.
The Committee is of the opinion that Government should comprehensively examine environmental, socioeconomic and financial aspects related to interlinking of rivers and formulate a detailed project for interlinking of rivers in order to effectively utilize water resources of the country for the benefit of the masses.
The panel was not convinced with government’s contention about limitation posed on Centre for interlinking of rivers due to constitutional provisions and hoped that had sincere efforts been made in consultation with the State Governments concerned, consensus could have reached among all stakeholders for interlinking of rivers as it being a win-win formula for all.
“The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation should initiate the process of consultations with all stakeholders for constitution of an Empowered Group of State Ministers on Interlinking of Rivers on the pattern of Empowered Group of State Finance Ministers on Goods and Services Tax,” it said.
The Committee hoped that constitution of such group by the Central Government will help in examining all facets related to interlinking of rivers and achieve the desired goal.
The Committee were informed that implementation of interlinking would give benefits of 25 million ha of irrigation from surface water, 10 million ha by increased use of ground water, raising the ultimate irrigation potential from 140 million ha to 175 million ha and generation of 34 million KW of power apart from other benefits.
However, the Committee expressed distress to know that despite considerable lapse of time, the Government is yet to made any significant headway towards interlinking of rivers in the country except two projects namely Ken-Betwa Project and Pancheswar Project.