Op-edWorld Bank Idea for India to link and connect Dams and Rivers...

World Bank Idea for India to link and connect Dams and Rivers at Strategic Places

No other country that exists here in the World has these many a rivers in its own and as has India Just count the number of big rivers the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Narmada, the Tapti the Godavari, the five sisters of the rivers of the Punjab and then you take the mid size and the smaller size of the rivers besides their rivulets. If the whole earth is comprised of about 75% of water the country India with its river and the Ocean as well as the sea taken into account too comprises of about 75% of water.

Yet, when we see the facts and measure it as against the actual we see that our nation is starved on the account of water Yet when we today look into the affairs of the water and its availability, we find that India is starved of water There is so much of scarcity of the water and there are so much of wastages that India has in fact utilized only 20% of its water in a better manner The rest has been lost.

That is a drastic method of losing such a natural source like water and that has led to the nation losing everything in terms of a very valuable source which extends the life and makes it exist The reality is we are now short of water and the water resource points that after a decade from now we would be bereft of the water and its facilities So what could be done to preserve and converse water and in which way or in what a manner. This article deals with it and will make an interesting reading pulling the ears of the Government to do all it’s act under its control fast to ward off the problems of shortage of water.

Linkage of Various Rivers in India!

The idea of linking the rivers of India through the canals and channels came into the force with Mr Atal Behari Vajapayee raising his voice in the Lok Sabha In one of his countersagainst the opposition, he answered why it is necessary to have a national policy on the subject of water and he mooted the idea of liking the rivers. The idea was to have a control, and not only control to possess an overall control over the water, which goes into wastages through the floods, droughts, power related and some other related problems The last 20 years saw it being mooted by different voice and norms but nothing concrete has been done so far to make it possible.

Sir Arthur Cotton, who was in charge of the water distribution in India in 1839 had proposed a plan for interlinking of the Indian rivers with the islands and there was an initiative mooted but it came to an end soon as the Britisher’s went in for the railways to take it over The Railway’s and its system completely put the water linkage and its importance under the crushing wheel of death and hell.

Then came Dr Deen Shaw He was a famous Engineer and he presented his scheme to inter link the different rivers and mooted an idea to connect it by the canals Came 1980 a national planning for interlinking the water was framed by the Ministry of the Natural Water resources A agency was set up by the name of National Water Development Agency and it was given a task to carry out further studies on it Alarms and voices were raised that once the study is over and the report is submitted a full scale effort would be made to link the important rivers What happened thereafter is anybody’s guess.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India gives a direction to the Central Government to complete a project in 10 years The only good thing that came out was a committee was formed That is all However a detailed report which the Government asked it to prepare was made or not is something I cannot answer on it

The Himalayan Rivers Development Component:

This development envisages to construct the water reservoirs on the principles of the tributaries of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra These ought to be prepared on the Indo-Nepal, Indo Bhutan and Indo-Bangladesh border and it also says that the excess of the water to release it in a manner that it crosses the Western part of India It says the rivers and the rivulets of the Mahanadi should be connected to the Ganges and to its tributaries as well as to the Mahanadi through the canals interlink system.

The Himalayan Rivers Development Component shall provide additional irrigation and the generation of hydropower, besides providing substantial flood control in the Ganga and Brahmaputra basins. It would also provide the necessary discharge for augmentation of flows at Farakka to flush Kolkata port and enhance the inland navigation facilities across the country.

The Himalayas and its studies was and is linked to the storage that is based on the principles of the multi purpose which would give the benefit of hydropower, and would control the floods There were eleven Himalayan link that was attached to the studies and the Manas-Tista-Sankosh- Ganga link to transfer the water from the Brahmaputra to the eastern ghats and the Eastern Ganga basin and diverting the water to downstream the links were also studied in detail It was also studied about what process should be and what ought to be the process to involve and to imply the process to the project.

The canals running through dense forested as well as populated areas link envisages high dams on Manas and Sankosh as populated areas cutting across major drainages and narrow strip of land north of Bangladesh. Other lines proposed are set-to-Yamuna to supplement the supplies of the Ganga, Kosi-Ghaghara, Gandak-Ganga, Ghaghara- Yamuna and also the supplies of the Ganga and the Yamuna and further transfer water west in Gujarat and Rajasthan

The linkage will transfer surplus flows of the Kosi, Gandak and Ghagra to the west. A link between the Ganga and Yamuna is also proposed to transfer the surplus water to drought-prone areas of Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat

The Peninsular Rivers Development Component: Karnataka-Tamil Nadu problem could be solved

To study the rivers that pertain to the South of India a project by the name of the Peninsular Rivers Development Component was formed This envisages linking the Mahanadi and Godavari to feed the Krishna, Pennar, Cauvery, and Vaigai rivers. This linkage will require several large dams and major canals to be constructed. Besides this, the Ken river will also be linked to the Betwa, Parbati, Kalisindh, and Chambal rivers.

This study completely revolves on the component which has four major parts that interlinks the Mahanadi-Godavari- Krishna-Cauvery and the diversion of a few west-flowing rivers towards the peninsular basin across the Western Ghats The advantage that would occur as per the studies is that the ease of the water will be an added feature in the peninsula A dam Manibadra would be required to be constructed in the vicinity of the Manibhadra village.

The Godavari would be joined by two major tributaries the Indravati and the Penganga which would be a downstream of the major storage at the Shri Ramsagar The Godavari has surplus water in this reach which can be stored in the available dam site of Inchampalli and even after meeting downstream basin requirements the benefits to those rehabilitated from low yield irrigated farming to high yield irrigated land would be so large that the project deserves high priority in the implementation.

After irrigating about 11.5 lakh hectares of dry land between the Godavari and the Krishna, there will still be about 3 km3 water left, which can be transferred to Cauvery basin and relieve it from occasional shortages. It will also help to resolve the bitter dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the water of the Cauvery River.

The Central-State Agreement ought to be the story of success

Doing a project and implementing them at India is not and never a child play The problem with India is that there is a different Government at the center and there are different Government at the state The center-state relationship taking into view and the advantage that would accrue beside the benefit that would be provided with these schemes to the farmers to the agriculturist and the ones who walk miles and miles to fetch water for drinking, their necessities ought to be kept in place.

If only the states and its Government synchronizes with the center this project would beautifully create all the wonders But before this, certain other steps like the negotiations and agreements amongst the states involved in interbasin transfer, preparation of Detailed Project Reports (DPRs), techno-economic appraisal of DPRs and investment clearance of the schemes, funding arrangements and fixing of agencies for execution to name a few would be necessary. The implementation of the inter-basin water transfer link schemes can be taken up in a phased manner depending on the priorities of the Government and availability of funds.

In order to bring about a perfect coordination between the state and the Centre and to arrive at a consensus a group headed by Chairman, Central Water Commission has to be formed so that the work of preparation of Detailed Project Reports could be started.

The benefit that would accrue of the project:-

If and when completed, this project will give following benefits and these would be enumerated as under :

(i) There are surplus of water at he eastern part of the country where some rivers always causes floods like the river Brahmaputra Surplus water from the eastern rivers will be transferred to water deficit areas of central, south and western parts of the country.

(ii) As said the two states, Bihar and Assam always reel under flood after or on every monsoon. Flood problem, particularly in Bihar and Assam will be solved to great extent.

(iii) If dams are constructed at the strategic places where the rivers interchanged their names then, 34,000 megawatt (34 million kW) hydroelectricity would be produced. This electricity could be and should be used for irrigation and other purposes.

(iv) Water transfer and it’s policy will play a crucial role, and the implementation of the programme of inter basin water transfer is expected to provide additional irrigation benefit envisaged from major, medium and minor irrigation projects.

(v) Chronically drought affected areas will get sufficient water for irrigation, drinking and other purposes.

(vi) The greatest advantage would be that the basin of the Himalayas and the Himalayan glaciers which releases water due to some reason that are beyond the control of the environment and ecological factors, as much as 1275.74 billion cubic metre water wastefully flowing in rivers originating in the glaciers of the Himalayas will be properly used.

(vii) The trans-shipment could be possible by the inland trans-shipment and its process Thus the project will provide ample opportunities for inland navigation and thus reduce pressure on rail and road transport.

(viii) Some of the problems that relates to the states especially that we hear from the Southern states especially all about and all the news of the water rift between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, between Jharkhand and Bengal to cite as an example could be solved It will be of great help in resolving inter-state water disputes.

(ix) Deficit Rivers which means that those rivers which are deficit in the flow of the water and those rivulets which have dried up because of the less flow of the water in the rivers will see atleast a kind of a flow of water which we could say that it is the minimum flow of water.

Cries and the causes that raises concerns:-

However, the project has been criticized on several grounds and several experts have questioned even the feasibility of such a gigantic project. Following are some of the objections raised against this project.

(i) The project will involve a huge cost of Rs. 5, 60,000 crore or $ 120 billion which amounts to a quarter of the country’s current GDP. A developing country like India can hardly afford such a huge investment in just on India thus will have to move to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to pump the project This could be done if the External Ministry puts it’s best effort to get this amount for the project

(ii) The project will entail the construction of several major dams and lengthy canals cutting across various river basins. This is not an easy task and will require engineering skills of high calibre.

(iii) The project aims at transferring water from water surplus rivers to water deficit rivers . But hydrologists believe that there are hardly any surplus waters anywhere in the country.

(iv) The construction of big dams and long canals will destroy forested areas, fertile soils and agricultural lands and disturb in ecological balance.

(v) No provision worth the name has been made to resettle the displaced people. An estimate of over 30 million people has been displaced by development projects since Independence.

(vii) Alternative measures of managing and conserving water resources can prove to be more useful than the proposed project of interlinking the rivers. According to the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), 37 BCM of ground water can be recharged locally at only Rs. 24,500 crore. Then what is the validity of investing Rs. 5, 60,000 crore in obtaining a mere 175 BCM from interlinking of rivers.

Scope of the Project

The National River Interlinking Project will comprise of 30 links to connect 37 rivers across the nation through a network of nearly 3000 storage dams to form a gigantic South Asian Water Grid. It includes two components: 

Proposed benefits of the Project: Hydro-power generation

The interlinking that would be done by the river could generate about 34,000 of Megawatt or 34 GW of power Out of this, 4,000 MW will come from the peninsular component while 30,000 MW from the Himalayan component However it would arise the question of other cost as well and that could be the cost of the human life A single Tehri dam, which has the capacity of 1000 MW was developed at the cost of total submergence of the Tehri village and with it other small 40 hamlets or sub-village affecting the lives of one lakhs of people

The addition of hydropower is expected to curb the drinking water woes of millions and supply water to industries in drought-prone and water-scarce cities in south and west India but do we need such a big project to end our water woes? This is something that requires an indepth analysis

Irrigation Project and it’s advantages and disadvantages

Irrigated fields of Tamil Nadu

The project as it states it can and it claims to provide additional irrigation to 35 million hectares (m ha) in the water-scarce western and peninsular regions, which includes 25 m ha through surface irrigation and 10 m ha through groundwater. The advantages are the employment will find a scope beside it will boost up the yields of the crop and farm incomes with multiplying benefits through backward (farm equipment and input supplies) and forward linkages (agro-processing industries). Along with this the project is expected to create several benefits for navigation and fisheries,but do we need to add to our irrigation potential through such a huge project? The answer is perhaps a no!

Cost of the Project

The total cost of implementation is Rs. 560,000 crore at 2002 ( index price levels) as an annual index of the price level The annual outlay is over 16000 crores over 35 years This also comprises or this contains Rs.106,000 crore for the peninsular component, Rs.185,000 crore for the Himalayan component and Rs. 269,000 crore for the hydroelectric component which covers all the three components The two components, the power and the Rs. 135,000 crore for the same, and Rs. 425,000 crore for irrigation and water supply are the two expenditures which is formed on the outlay of the price with the base as the index of the year 2002 This has to be kept in mind

Perceived impact of the Project

There was a report submitted to the Government of India that when the river cuts through forested, cultivated, and settled lands, they carry with them large amounts of silt. This silt is deposited along the way, enhancing the productivity of the surrounding lands, and finally of the coastal waters The rivers as it is also push through the sea, which would otherwise invade deep into the land, and erode the coast The most impacted area is the silt is deposited along the way, enhancing the productivity of the surrounding lands, and finally of the coastal waters

Many a state are engrossed with the rivalries that accrues for sharing the water f or example. Ravi-Beas Water Dispute between Punjab-Haryana-Rajasthan and the Cauvery Water Dispute between Kerala-Karnataka-Tamil Nadu-Puduchery to name a couple Again on the international front India is totally at the loggerhead To cite examples are with Pakistan over the sharing of the Indus’ water, with Bangladesh over the Teesta’s water, with China over the Brahmaputra’s water and with Nepal over the Mahakali’s water.

In such a scenario, does India really have the capacity to take up a few or rather many more water conflicts arising over the riparian rights from the countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, that are in the downstream

These are some of the examples that ought to be put forward before taking an overall view to interlink the rivers and inter connect the flow of the water from one river to the another

The truth is the water reserves below the earth crust and all the rivers taken along would not last for more that 10 long years from now This will kill the nation On the other hand the linking has its own advantages and the disadvantages of some and a very few that I have covered and explained herewith

Just imagine the plight and the horror that would accrue or would start accruing after 10 long years The shortages of the water will start killing the lives of the floras, the faunas and the human being What would be the scenario then Will the living species at any point of time survive without the water Would it be possible in any way then On the other hand in case the river linking is done and the process of canalisation is done to link the rivers then a lot of villages, a lot of hamlets and a lot of beings would have to be rehabilitated Which one would be better That needs to be given a process of thoughts as it serves a food of thought.

It is not a easy job Add to that is the cost of the project involved and the time that would accrue on it The money ought to be taken by the World bank but then it has to be returned accordingly with interest However the time ought to be within a period of 10 years This requires a national thinking and a compulsive unification of the ideas of the different parties because it involves the question of death of the human beings and the other beings of Indias It requires an integrated approach and this will kill the nation if it is not handled and addressed properly It has to be done on a war footing scale within the ten years from now There lies the future and it’s safety.

Thus – all in one or one in all a complete estimation and assessment very quickly ought to be done in terms of the studies and a take in terms of the stance and action is or ought to be formulated and should be taken by the government This is the need of the hour Definitely the project has a lot to be desired in terms of it’s implementation but definitely as one would say the shortage of water also is a crisis which looms large and this ought to be solved in the most scientific manner adding all technicalities and the process involved in it.

This studies is a subject that does requires a national outcry in terms of it’s finalisation and expedition Well that is it and taking into consideration the ecological factor, the cost of the life as a factor and above all the cost of the project as a factor this national project at any cost ought to be implemented fast if the nation wishes to survive after a decade.

Bhattacharjee Shyamal
Bhattacharjee Shyamal
Shyamal Bhattacharjee has been a SPORTS SCRIBE to start with, a MARKETING PROFESSIONAL for 35 years and author of SIX International standard books . Now he spends his entire time in SOCIAL DEVLOPEMENT and WRITING.

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