Govt to finally launch river-interlinking project in December with Ken-Betwa link
New Delhi: The govt is all set to launch the ambitious river interlinking project by the end of this year.
The project was conceived nearly 40 years ago but got delayed owing to many hurdles in its way.
The 30-link project would start with the linking of Ken and Betwa rivers. This will provide irrigation facility to two water-deficient districts of Madhya Pradesh - Raisen and Vidisha. The two rivers pass through Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
The project, estimated to cost Rs 7,600 crore, will facilitate the annual irrigation of 4.46 lakh hectares of land.
S Masood Hussain, director general of the National Water Development Agency (NWDA), said, “The detailed project report and other formalities have been completed. We expect the work to start from December. Detailed reports for some other projects too have been completed and the construction work on those links would also start gradually.”
NWDA, a body of ministry of water resources, has been entrusted with the project.
Construction on the Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada links in Gujarat and Maharashtra and the second phase of the Ken-Betwa link will start very soon as the detailed project reports have already been completed.
According to Hussain, the project is important for the country's water security but environmentalists have their own concerns.
“What is the point having such a project which will cause deforestation, displacement of people and increase the impact of climate change? There are cost effective alternatives such as water harvesting and watershed management which the government does not want to explore,” said Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP).
The project, when completed, could generate upto 34,000 megawatts of power and provide irrigation to 140 million hectares-175 million hectares.
The cost of entire project was estimated at Rs 5.6 lakh crore 10 years ago but according to officials associated, the final sum would be known once the detailed reports for all 30 links are complete which would be much more than the estimated.