NEW DELHI: Calling for a solution to check flooding in country, Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari Tuesday announced to expedite river-interlinking projects and has decided to call a meeting of chief ministers to push for NDA government’s key project.
Reviewing the work of water resources ministry, Gadkari asked the officials to prioritise three river-interlinking projects -- Ken-Betwa, Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada for immediate action.
Gadkari said that river-linking can solve the problem of flooding and drought in various parts of the country.
“To realise the dream of Atal ji and I have decided to expedite Interlinking of Rivers Project. I have called meeting for concerned chief ministers to sort out pending issues,” Gadkari told reporters later.
The country’s first Ken-Betwa river linking project has been stuck with Madhya Pradesh government denying giving no-objection certificate to the ministry to start the project.
The project was initially mooted in the early 1980s and was actively taken by the NDA government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee but then it was challenged in the Supreme Court. The apex court finally in 2013 asked the UPA government to start the process but it kept sitting on it and a Group of Ministers (GoM) on the river interlinking under Pranab Mukherjee did not even meet once.
It was the Modi government in 2014 that revived the project and funds were allocated for implementation in budget. Nearly 30 river linking projects have been under process but detailed project report for three -- Ken-Betwa, Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada – has been prepared.
According to water resources ministry, approximately 35 million hectare of additional irrigation potential and 34000 mega watts (MW) hydro power generation are the likely benefits envisaged under the project apart from the incidental benefits of flood moderation, navigation, drinking water supply, fisheries, salinity and pollution control.