Interlinking of Rivers in India : Problems and Prospects

S. Manicham

Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) is Government of India's proposal to link 37 rivers through 30 links, dozens of large dams and thousands of miles of canals, making it the largest water project in the world. It aims to transfer water from water surplus to water deficit areas and thus proposes to provide a permanent solution to the paradox of floods and drought. Of the 30 links proposed, 14 are in the Himalayan and 16 in the Peninsular component.

How, when and by whom - A short history of ILR

1972 : Ganga Cauvery link proposed by Union minister Dr. K.L. Rao. 1974 : Garland Canal, Proposal by Captain Dinshaw J Dastur, a pilot. Both plans were rejected due to technical infeasibility and huge costs and 1980 : Ministry of Water Resources frames the National Perspective.

Plan (NPP) envisaging inter basin transfer

  • 1982 : The National Water Development Agency (NWDP) set up to carry out pre feasibility studies. These form the basis of the ILR plan.
  • 1999 : A national commission (NCIWRDP) set up to review NWDA reports concluded that it saw no imperative necessity for massive water transfers in the peninsular component and that the Himalayan Component would require more detailed study. Aug. 15, 2002 President Abdul Kalam mentioned the need for river linking in his independence day speech, based on which senior advocate Ranjit Kumar filed a PIL in Supreme Court. Oct 2002 - Supreme Court recommends that the government formulate a plan to link the major Indian rivers by the year 2012. Dec. 2002 - Govt. appointed a Task Force (TF) on interlinking of rivers (ILR) led by Mr. Suresh Prabhu. The deadline was revised to 2016.
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