Peninsular Rivers Development

This component is divided into four major parts.

  • 1. Interlinking of Mahanadi Godavari Krishna Cauvery rivers and building storages at potential sites in these basins. This is the major interlinking of the river systems where surpluses from the Mahanadi and the Godavari are intended to be transferred to the needy areas in the South.
  • 2. Interlinking of west flowing rivers, north of Bombay and south of Tapi. This scheme envisages construction of as much optimal storage as possible on these streams and interlinking them to make available appreciable quantum of water for transfer to areas where additional water is needed. The scheme provides for taking water supply canal to the metropolitan areas of Bombay; it also provides irrigation to the coastal areas in Maharashtra.
  • 3. Interlinking of Ken-Chambal Rivers. The scheme provides for a water grid for Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and interlinking canal backed by as much storage as possible.
  • 4. Diversion of other west flowing rivers. Heavy rainfall on the western side of the Western Ghats runs down numerous streams, which empty, into the Arabian Sea.

Benefits

Construction of an interlinking canal system backed up by adequate storages could be planned to meet all requirements of Kerala as also for transfer of some waters towards east to meet the needs of drought affected areas. The peninsular Component is expected to provide additional irrigation of about 13 million hectare and is expected to generate about 4 million KW of power.

Interlinking or networking of rivers entails construction of dams and canals and other connected hydraulic engineering works for mass transfer of water across the river basins. Basically, the scheme is to convey flood water in the Ganga and Brahmaputra river basins to the arid and semiarid areas of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and to the peninsular rivers of south India. There are essentially three methods to achieve the same. 1. Canal option - to construct lengthy canals, 2. Tunnel option - to convey water under mountains, and 3. Pumping option - to pump water over mountains.

The enormous drain of water into the seas, the paradioxical and perennial shortage of water for irrigation and drinking, and the floods in many parts of the country have prompted the idea of networking the rivers. The former President Dr. Abdul Kalam has said that the plan must be accorded top priority, it is hoped it will kick start the economy and mitigate the problem of unemployment. This according to him will convert the country into a developed nation. The project is also certain to integrate the rural and urban economies and bridge the gap in the great rural urban divide.

Dr. Kalam had adumbrated certain requirements so that the grandiose plan is successfully implemented. They are as follows :

a. The need to develop greater tolerance, compassion, hard work, dedication, and an ability to feel and realize the problems of others and the readiness to help. Avoiding narrow political ambition and greed, leaders must foster inter and intra communal harmony. The country as a whole must realize the economic need for such a project that would stimulate growth.

b. The second priority is political. Water must be moved from the State List and included in the Concurrent List, with over weaning Central control. The need for bringing water under Central control has been amply demonstrated by the non implementation of several river water sharing awards between the States.

c. An immediate dialogue with Pakistan and Bangladesh to seek their approvals for the networking is an essential priority as per Dr. Kalam. The project will be not be successful without linking the Ganga. the indus and the Brahmaputra. The Ganga, the Yamuna and the Brahmaputra combine in Bangladesh before entering the Bay of Bengal.

Similarly, the indus and its tributaries - the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej, the Jhelum and the Chenab merge in Pakistan before entering the Arabian Sea.

d. The next priority would be to look at and review the land acquisition laws. This river networking project would require a lot of land across the country and also would need access rights from several million landowners.

e. The fifth priority is to design an acceptable management structure to plan this project, and implement and monitor it. Once completed this network would last several generations and change the face of this country. This would also cost an enormous amount of money.

Expected benefits of interlinking of rivers : Surface water irrigation : 25 million Ha Ground water irrigation : 10 million Ha Hydropower generation : 34 million KW Improved agriculture : it will help in ensuring food security Flood and drought control Alternative means of transport : river transport is a cheap and non polluting Higher GDP growth : creation of more employment opportunities will approximately lead to a 4% growth in the GDP. Lead to national unity and national security.

Disadvantages of this networking project have been enumerated below and later there are some details elaborating the same.

  • 1. No inclusion of people's participation 2. Lack of consensus among citizens 3. Criss-cross construction of dams and canal systems, which will cause displacement of people 4. Submergence of land, forests and reserves
  • 5. Negative impact on flora and fauna. 6. Acquisition of large tracts of land 7. If control is transferred to the center then decisions might be taken under political pressure.
 
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