INTER-LINKING OF RIVERS
1. Water is the most precious commodity in the world today. It is felt
that in the present century there may be wars between countries on water
sharing or controlling sources of water like advanced nations are
trying to control petrol these days.
Water scarcity is going to be a common phenomenon in the near future.
Per capita availability of water in India is falling to 1582 cu m per
year and one can imagine it will seriously affected the growth of the
India has been generous while settling Indus river water
with Pakistan. India accepted to allow 80% of water of the Indus river
system to Pakistan, which by far is considered to be the most generous
international water settlement so far. A similar settlement with
Bangladesh over sharing of the Teesta river water is in the offing. But
China is building a dam on Brahmputra River which will seriously reduce
water supply to India. We must learn to manage our water resources
wisely and efficiently.
In this context, an ambitious project of
inter-linking of National Rivers of India was proposed by Atal Bihari
Vajpaye government, but the project has remained on paper for the past
ten years. The plan envisaged connecting of 37 Himalayan and peninsular
rivers in a pan Indian water grid to reduce water shortages in the
country. It was estimated by experts that a colossal water grid will
handle 178 billion cu m of inter-basin water a year which will be
channeled through 12,500 km long newly built canal system. This will
also result in production of 34 GW of hydro- power and irrigate an
additional area of 35 million hectares of land. Looking at the enormous
benefits of the project, the Supreme Court of India urged the Government
in 2002 to embark on this water grid programme, but the government
dragged its feet on the ground that it entailed an expenditure of $120
billion which the government could ill afford. But it is unwise to
reject a programme on account of its cost when it holds promise of
tremendous benefits to the nation. Inter-linking rivers will stem
droughts and floods and double the food grains production to 450 million
tons per year.
1. With growing urbanization, wasteful irrigation
methods and fast increasing population, the country is going to face a
worse water situation in future. Supreme Court of India, realizing the
situation, has decided to intercede. It has now ordered the government
to implement the project in a time-bound manner. Let us hope the
challenging water situation in the country will be addressed in time,
with the intervention of the apex court of the country.