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Interlinking Rivers to Answer India’s Water Woes : Bhopal Singh

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Bhopal Singh

Despite having sufficient enough rainfall and numerous major surface after resources, India has been suffering from water stress from decades. To tackle this, the Government of India pitched in River Linking project that aims to transfer water from water surplus basins to water-deficit basins. Shedding light on this, Bhopal Singh, Director General, National Water Development Agency, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, interacted with Nisha Samant Purbey of Elets News Network (ENN).

What are the recent projects studies undertaken by the National Water Development Agency, Ministry of Jal Shakti? National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has been entrusted with the work of Interlinking of Rivers projects under the National Perspective Plan (NPP). The National Perspective Plan comprises two components, namely – Himalayan Rivers Development and Peninsular Rivers Development.

Himalayan Rivers Development There are 14 links that have been identified under the Himalayan component. Out of these, the Feasibility Reports of four links are completed, Draft Feasibility Reports of six links are completed and Pre-Feasibility Report of all the 14 links are done. The Pre- Feasibility Report of Jogighopa–Tista– Farakka link which was an alternative to Manas-Sankaosh-Tista-Ganga (MSTG) Link was also prepared but this link has been finally dropped. Status of few major links are as follows:

  • Kosi – Ghaghara link PFR has been completed that involves the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and also agreement with Nepal.
  • For Yamuna – Rajasthan link, Draft FR is completed.
  • FR for Ganga (Farakka) – Damodar – Sunderbans link is completed.
  • Ghaghra – Yamuna link FR for the Indian portion is completed.
  • FR for the Indian portion of Sarda – Yamuna link has been completed.

Peninsular Rivers Development

Under the Peninsular component, there are 16 links that have been identified. Of these, Detailed Project Reports of four links including Ken-Betwa link (Phase-I, Phase-II and Comprehensive Report of Phase-I&II), Damanganga- Pinjal link, Par-Tapi-Narmada link and Cauvery (Kattalai)-Vaigai-Gundar have been already completed. An alternative study to divert unutilised waters of Godavari river has been carried out and the draft Detailed Project Report of Godavari (Inchampalli/Janampet)–Krishna (Nagarjunasagar)–Pennar (Somasila)– Cauvery (Grand Anicut) link project is completed. The Feasibility Reports of 14 links are completed and Pre-Feasibility Reports of all the links have been completed. Status of some of the major links is as follows:

  • FR for Mahanadi – Godavari link involving the states of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh has been completed.
  • Godavari (Inchampalli) – Krishna (Pulichintala) link FR has also been completed.
  • DPR for Cauvery (Kattalai) – Vaigai – Gundar link has been completed.
  • For Par – Tapi – Narmada link involving the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra DPR has been completed.
  • While for Ken – Betwa link involving the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, DPR (Phase – I, II & Comprehensive report) has been completed.

Also Read: Namami Gange TRANSFORMING the Urban Riverscape

Intra-State Link Projects

NWDA so far has received 48 proposals of Intra-State links from nine states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh. The PFRs of 37 Intra- State links have been completed. While the DPR of four Intra-State links namely Burhi-Gandak-Noon- Baya-Ganga and Kosi-Mechi links of Bihar, Ponnaiyar-Palar link of Tamil Nadu and Wainganga-Nalganga link of Maharashtra have been completed and sent to the concerned state governments. The work of preparation of DPRs of Damanganga (Ekdare)–Godavari link and Damanganga-Vaitarna-Godavari link of Maharashtra is in progress. Whereas, Kosi-Mechi link is ready for implementation.

Intra-State Link Projects

Intra-State Link Projects

Intra-State Link Projects

What are the key issues in the implementation of the Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) Projects?

There are numerous challenges that surface up when massive projects like interlinking of rivers are taken up. The main challenge in the implementation of the link projects is consensus issues between the states involved in the project. Due to certain compulsions or constraints, the states that have a surplus in water resources do not agree to such surpluses while the donee states generally agree to the link proposals but demand more water. NWDA proposals are based on probable surpluses in the ultimate stage of development. However, the same may not be in tune with the existing water- sharing agreement in some of the basins. Therefore, states are apprehensive about disturbing the existing allocation as per Tribunal Awards. Some states have apprehension that link proposals may have an adverse effect on their existing irrigation and power requirements. Further, many issues are being raised for the links which involve international boundaries like the main headworks of six Himalayan link projects that fall in Nepal and Bhutan. Therefore, cooperation and agreement with the two countries is an essential requirement for project implementation.

Also Read: Addressing Water Woes: The Mauritian Way

How is NWDA leveraging technology in conducting surveys and investigation work for Water Resources Development and thereafter approach?

Survey & investigation is a part of basic work for link projects studies. This is done majorly with scientific instruments. Also, newer technologies in remote sensing, GIS, etc. have been significant in improving the efficiency and for overall capacity building in terms of surveys and investigations.

Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) survey, photogrammetric processing, Digital Terrain Model (DTM) generation, are a few technologies that NWDA has adopted for ILR studies.

Further, remote sensing maps have been used for surveys and investigation works, for preparation of FR of Sone Dam-Southern Tributaries of Ganga (STG) link due to physical and geographical constraints. Moreover, while preparing ILR Project reports, NWDA is using Geomatics for Watershed Characterization, Water Availability and Hydrology, Water Balance Studies, Link Route Analysis, Submergence Area Analysis, Checking Canal Alignment, Command Area Survey, and Irrigation Planning.

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