Suggestions for a National Water Grid for transferring surplus water available in some regions to water deficit areas have been made from time to time. The two such proposals put forth earlier in the seventies, which attracted considerable attention, were:
- National Water Grid by Dr. K.L. Rao (1972)
- Garland Canal by Capt. Dastur (1977)
Dr. K.L. Rao’s Proposal (1972), which had 2640 km. long Ganga - Cauvery link as its main component involved large scale pumping over a head of 550 m. The power requirement for lifting the water was huge, estimated to be 5000 to 7000 MW, for irrigating an additional area of 4 million hectares only. The scheme was also not having any flood control benefit. Dr. Rao had estimated this proposal to cost about Rs. 12,500 crores, which at 2002 price level comes to about Rs. 1,50,000 crores. The Central Water Commission, which examined the proposal, found it to be grossly under estimated and economically prohibitive.
Capt. Dastur Proposal (1977) envisaged construction of two canals – the first 4200 km. Himalayan Canal at the foot of Himalayan slopes running from the Ravi in the West to the Brahmaputra and beyond in the east; and the second 9300 km Garland Canal covering the central and southern parts, with both the canals integrated with numerous lakes and interconnected with pipelines at two points, Delhi and Patna. The cost estimated by Capt. Dastur was Rs. 24,095 crores. The proposal was examined by two committees of experts comprising Senior Engineers from CWC, State Governments, Professors from the IIT, Delhi and Roorkee University and Scientists from Geological Survey of India and Indian Meteorological Department who opined that the proposal was technically infeasible. The cost estimated by the experts in 1979 was about Rs. 12 million crores. The realistic cost at 2002 price level comes to about Rs. 70 million crores.