NEW DELHI: Work on country’s first river inter-linking project, linking Ken and Betwa rivers in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, is expected to start by the end of this year and it will be implemented as model link project, the government said Monday.
Chairing the 5th meeting of the Special Committee for inter-linking of Rivers here, Union Minister of State for Water Resources Sanwar Lal Jat said this mega project will go a long way in enhancing water and food security of the country. Water ministers of various states attended the meeting.
“I hope with all statutory clearance available, we will be able to start the actual execution of work on the project by the end of this year. The Government will be implementing this national project as model link project of ILR programme,” he said.
Besides, the work for preparation of DPR of Par-Tapi-Narmada link project is in concluding stage and is expected to be completed by this month end. After completion of DPR of Par-Tapi-Narmada link project, the issue of water sharing between Gujarat and Maharashtra in respect of Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada link project will be addressed.
Jat further said that his ministry would soon be taking up the planning of another very important link Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga in consultation with the Governments of Assam, West-Bengal and Bihar.
To expedite the implementation of river interlinking program, the central government has constituted a task force under former UPSC member B N Navalawala to forge a consensus amongst the states on the issue. The Task Force would recommend the time schedules for completion of feasibility studies and DPR’s of all the links, implementation schedule of all the links and also suggest on various means of funding mechanisms for the Interlinking of Rivers.
The project was initially mooted in 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.
The project has been revived by the NDA government under Narendra Modi and Rs 100 crore was allotted in 2014 to expedite preparation of detailed project reports.
According to ministry, approximately 35 million hectare of additional irrigation potential and 34000 mega watts (MW) hydro power generation are the likely benefits envisaged under project apart from the incidental benefits of flood moderation, navigation, drinking water supply, fisheries, salinity and pollution control.