Is the Interlinking of Rivers desirable? If yes, is it feasible?
Yes, the Interlinking of Rivers is necessary to overcome anomaly of uneven temporal and spatial distribution of the rainfall in the country. The interlinking of rivers is also necessary to remove the regional imbalances.
The studies carried out by the National Water Development Agency for Interlinking of Rivers of the country, prima facie, indicate that the scheme is technically feasible.
What is the scope of the programme of Interlinking of Rivers (ILR)?
The programme for Interlinking of major rivers of India Comprises 30 links to share available waters equitably between different Basins and States.
The Survey & Investigations for preparation of feasibility reports for 16 links is in progress, while it is completed for 8 links. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) preparation will be taken up after firming up feasibility report of each link.
The programme will enable additional irrigation to about 35 Mha., additional hydropower of 34,000 MW, drinking water to many cities and villages, drought mitigation and flood moderation of areas covered, limited navigation and other benefits like huge employment generation, social upliftment, environmental up gradation, tree farming etc.
What is the mission of the Task Force? How do you plan to shore up the support (economic and political) for this ambitions project?
The Task Force will:
Provide guidance on norms of appraisal of individual projects in respect of economic viability, socio-economic & environmental impacts, and preparation of resettlement plans;
Devise suitable mechanism for bringing about speedy consensus amongst the States;
Prioritize the different project components for preparation of Detailed Project Reports and implementation.
Propose suitable organizational structure for implementing the project;
Consider various modalities for project funding; and
Consider international dimensions that may be involved in some project components. The Chairman of Task Force is in the process of discussing the project with the Chief Ministers of various states, leaders of the various political parties in the parliament and eminent citizens in order to build up consensus about the project.
What are the challenges of the project?
The consensus on implementation of project among the co-basin states, international issues involved, resettlement and rehabilitation of the project affected people, timely clearance of the concerned agencies and project funding are the major challenges likely to be faced.
From an angle of economic development, how do you perceive the river linking project?
The benefits of the Programme of interlinking of rivers as drawn up by NWDA include providing an additional irrigation in 35 Mha area, generation of 34,000 MW of power, provide navigation, socio-economic development and generation of enormous employment opportunities both during and after implementation.
Is river-linking a viable proposition from environmental hazards point of view?
Yes, it is a viable proposition as construction of storage reservoirs and canals rather improve the environment. In interlinking proposals a provision of the minimum lean season flow will be safeguarded to maintain the ecology and the river regime. The general prosperity that will follow the implementation of the project will help alleviate poverty, which today is the biggest polluter.
Nevertheless each project will be studied for its environmental impact and all measures necessary to mitigate any adverse impact will be taken.
Ambitious projects like this involve mass movement and rehabilitation highlight the initiatives that Task Force is likely to take in the event of mass uprooting?
It is estimated that a few lakhs of people may get affected due to creation of reservoirs. The cost of rehabilitation will be included in the project cost. The Task Force (TF) is considering to suggest to the Government of India that the Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) costs earmarked, preferably up front. The displaced persons will be provided proper R&R packages to ensure that their socio-economic condition improves after resettlement at new places. In order to ensure that the package of R&R well handled, measures like ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ (SPV) associating NGO’s, sensitive to humane problems, will be suggested.
How many years will it take to complete the project?
The ILR concept involves 30 links. It is not a single Project, anyway.
A number of issues have to be resolved and agreements forged for different projects. TF is critically reviewing as to the best efforts/ways and means to complete the ILR, early. The programme is to complete by 2016 as desired by Supreme Court will be kept in view.
What is going to be the financial cost of the Project and how you plan to raise the resources for the Project of this magnitude? Many economists argue that for the Project of such magnitude India will have to take heavy loans from Institutions like World
The overall cost of ILR links is yet to be assessed in a comprehensive manner. This will have to be based on Detailed Project Reports, which are being commissioned for individual links. After firming up the cost of each of these links the overall cost will be established.
Funding options are being studied through reputed financial Institutions within the country. The initial exercise reveals that it can be mobilized internally.
There is no proposal presently to seek external support.
The initial response of Funding Groups is encouraging and the method to be resorted to financing is a key item being studied by Task Force.
There is no agenda like privatizing the water. This is a vague and unfounded fear.
How many rivers included into the project?
Almost all the major rivers of the country are getting linked.
Quantum of water transfer?
About 200 BCM of annual water transfer is envisaged from water rich to water deficit basins/areas.
How many dams to be built?
The concept involves the constructions of 32 dams and storages.
How these project fruitful for electricity generation?
About 34,000 MW of hydropower is likely to be generated.
After the completion of project, what is the projected increase in food grain production?
The ILR will increase irrigated agriculture in 35 Mha, over and above the 140 Mha, envisaged from conventional irrigation projects. This considered sufficient to meet the requirement of food grain of 450 million tones in the year 2050 for the projected population.
How to collect fund for the river project?
This is being studied by the Task Force consulting specialized Institutions and Agencies.
Total geographical area covered?
Irrigation to 35 Mha. But as the development impact extends to the hinterlands served by irrigated development in the States & Nation as a whole, the impact is wider and cannot be precisely indicated in terms of any specific area.
Have the geographical surveys been done for this programme beforehand? What do they indicate?
Yes, The geographical surveys done so far (for Feasibility level) indicate that the programme is technically feasible. Detailed surveys are yet to be undertaken for DPR level work.
How much energy will be required for this programme? And how will it be made available?
About 4,000 MW will be required for operationalising the lifts involved in some of the links. The requirement being small, it can be met with from the available generation. In addition, the programme will be generating 34,000 MW.
Is this programme beneficial from technical and economic angle?
Yes, The Pre-Feasibility Studies (30 links) & Feasibility Studies of 8 links confirm this.
Will this programme avail of foreign technical assistance?
There are enough indigenous technologies to handle the task of ILR Programme. However, if required there will be no hesitation to avail foreign technologies.
How this Project is going to cure the havoc played by the floods in Northern India?
The Overall ILR programme consists of 30 links interconnecting Indian rivers, both in Peninsular and Himalayan parts. In its fold several links as proposed will be taking off from large storages built across the important flood causing rivers like the Kosi, the Mahanadi etc. the Projects, which will be planned as ‘multi-purpose projects’, would incorporate as one of its objectives, flood attenuation in downstream channel. The major rivers below the storages will be receiving moderated flood flows in a significant way. This will greatly reduce the calamities arising out of worst flood peaks of devastating nature.
However, damages due to floods and storms in the catchments downstream of the storage dams would be inevitable and will have to be attacked with other structural and non-structural measures. The problem would be however be minimized due to the introduction of storage dams upstream as a part of components created under ILR programme.
How this Project will help to have water in the dry rivers of Deccan throughout the year?
One of the many objectives of the Interlinking of Rivers is to ensure that minimum stream flows required for ecological reasons are guaranteed. This aspect assumes crucial importance in dry rivers, especially in peninsular region. Dams and storages enable us to release surplus monsoon water in a regulated manner to safeguard the interest of environmental quality.
Are there such programmes carried out in other countries?
Yes, in many countries such programmes have been implemented. For example USA, Canada, China, France, Germany etc. to quote a few.
This is not considered as insurmountable with present day technology. Extensive uses of the State of the Art technologies like ISRO/NRSA’s satellite Imagery, ALTM of SOI are proposed to be utilised.
How to deal with various mountain ranges like Aravalli etc.?
The present day tunneling technology is sufficient to handle these issues.
Is there a truth in the fear expressed that this programme will affect geographical structure?
This is not a fear based on any study. There is no truth in such an apprehension.
Despite the GOI’s assertions that the project is going to boost development and better the quality of life, there seems to be a misgiving about its impact in India. On the other hand, there seems to be a favorable response to the project by NRIs. Why thi
This is not true.
There is a more than an equal assertion in the media about the need and viability of the Project, given the water stress, faced in several regions and consequent distress to farmers, people and nation, at large.
The favorable opinion is both from internal as well as external groups; the isolated indication that NRIs are alone are supporting the project are not true.
Have multinationals/private companies have any interest in the project at all?
The initial response of industry is encouraging.
Will the water treaties with Bangladesh and Pakistan be affected due to this programme?
The ILR Programme will respect all the existing treaties with the neighboring countries.
Is the GOI in a hurry to start the project? Any particular reason for that?
The Project will be launched only after establishing its viability based on Detailed Project Reports (DPRs), which will be addressing all concerns like Social Issues, Environment & Ecology, Economic and other issues.
Tentative date, keeping all the objections/need for resources etc./when the project can actually take off?
The project is expected to commence once its viability stands established based on DPRs; consensus of all State Governments with the links concerned is being attempted before launching DPRs. The Project will start with ‘independent links’ and a beginning is likely by 2007.
India’s forest cover is already less than the required 23%. ILR Programme is estimated to submerge 72,202 hectares of forestland. What TF is going to do about it?
Sufficient provisions exist in Forest Conservation Act of Government of India for the protection of forest by means of compensatory afforestation, water shed treatment and other land and water management programmes. Such norms will also be applied in ILR to avoid reduction in the forest cover of the country.
How the objections of anti-dam NGOs will be tackled.
The objections of Anti-dam NGO’s will be reckoned through constructive engagement and dialogue with these groups. Transparency, optional scenarios and cost benefit returns, including possible trade off would form the main plank of our discussions with them.
Many environmentalists are opposing the project on grounds of huge environmental cost which nation will pay for the Project and They suggest to improve water availability to rural masses, projects of check dams, development of village ponds are needed, n
This is not true.
Several Environmentalists have realized the great advantages, as the Programme will enhance an opportunity to address some of the vexing concerns pertaining to environment and ecology. There can be a boon to forest cover as a considerable spread can be assured wherever the links will enable water transfer. Similarly, there can be a better control over minimum flows in streams that can go dry otherwise. The transfer of water from water rich to deficit basins and rivers in peninsular region will cause better revival of flows in some streams which almost dry in non monsoons.
Viewed in this manner, there are both environmental costs and benefits, which will be looked into in totality. It is wrong to conclude pre mature that environmental costs will be heavy to make the ILR unviable.
The interlinking of rivers is not at the expense of water conservation measures launched country wide, already. These will go on. The mere investment in these Projects alone would not, however, eliminate the problems in water scarce basins such as Cauvery or Sabarmati; such restricted investment will not along with current level of major and medium Projects developed, satisfy our future requirements for cereals for growing population. The need for interlinking of rivers is to address the perpetual problem that the deficit basins of the country face resulting in droughts when elsewhere water flows down to sea getting wasted!
Considering the country’s present economic condition, how do you justify this “Mega budget project”? Instead, is it not possible to go in for a “refined” irrigation system, which will be cost effective and will also reach the deprived rural population?
The Interlinking of Rivers proposal is not ‘one’ project; it consists of a series of link projects, which are to be implemented in a phased manner over a period of time. While studying the proposals of individual link projects at the Pre-feasibility stage, its financial and economic viability based on existing norms for irrigation projects has been studied. Notwithstanding this each link will be further examined by the Task Force on ILRs set up by Government of India and DPRs prepared, after which only the links will be implemented. Refined irrigation systems are also to form part in the comprehensive programme to ensure efficiency in water management.
Realistically speaking will we ever be able to complete the project, let alone by 2016? It is a huge task needing a lot of money and involving many states. Just look at the Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat a very small task compared to the ILRs and yet,
Project implementation is dependant of several factors, financial, technical, social and environmental. The modalities for implementing the scheme within the stipulated time frame of year 2016 are to be suggested by the Task Force.
The implementation of multipurpose projects often gets delayed due to non-availability of timely clearance from Environment and Forest angle, R&R Inter-state issues and others.
However, for the ILR, special attention is being given to these aspects so as to resolve them up front in a time bound manner, to avoid delays during implementation phase.
Is there a plan to interlink the Tapi and Narmada rivers – especially the Ukai Dam and Sardar Sarovar Dam – on priority as the water in Ukai dam is very inadequate to meet the full demand for irrigation water in South Gujarat and for the existing hydro-el
Yes, the studies have been carried out by NWDA to interlink the west flowing rivers north of Mumbai and South of Tapi. One such link under this component is Par-Tapi-Narmada link. This link although passing through Ukai reservoir but does not envisage diverting any amount of water of Tapi basin. Similarly the link canal crosses the river Narmada, but no water of Narmada is proposed to be diverted in this link.
It is also believed that Maharashtra is not going to get anything out of this Project and it will completely bypass the State.
This is a misconception. The links of interest to Maharashtra are Par-Tapi-Narmada and Damanganga-Pinjal (Mumbai drinking water supply); the scope will further be reviewed to see as to how best the interest of the State could be accommodated.
Have you studied the river network in Europe in general and Germany in particular?
The water management policies and programmes are adopted by every country suiting to their needs and requirements. The climate of Europe/Germany is temperate with uniform rainfall occurring several times a year. Thus water storage is not a necessity in such regions. In India, rainfall is concentrated only during the monsoon months – storages are necessary. Also that chronically water deficit basins having non-perennial water sources need to be supplemented by water supplies from outside. Thus the needs for inter basin water transfer.
Highlight the initiatives undertaken by the Task Force in building favorable opinion for the project.
Chairman, Task Force on Interlinking of Rivers had extensive interaction with a cross section of the people, the media, political leaders and opinion makers.
A communication Core Group is assisting the Task Force for dissemination of all requisite information.
How competent task force technical expertise to undertake the project?
Fully competent. Dr. C.C. Patel, Vice-Chairman and Dr. C.D. Thatte, Member-Secretary, Task Force (TF) both are Ex. Secretaries of Ministry of Water Resources and eminent engineers having a vast experience of various aspects of water resources development projects such as planning, execution and running and maintenance. The members of the TF are drawn from various specialities like Social, Environment, Ecology, Financing, Legal and Engineering. They are renowned experts. The website www.riverlinks.nic.in may please be referred to for their CV. TF also utilizes the expertise of various Eminent Engineers and Institutions like IITs, NCAER, and NIPF&P etc. as Resources Persons/Institutions for the Task Force.