Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 5

Indian Inter-river Linking Project-An Analysis

Nithin Thomas
Amal Baby

The interlinking of rivers in India is a dream project of current Government under
the leadership of Narendra Modi. The project though had its roots in the past, is not
realized yet. The project came in lime light again when the Finance Minister made
some allocations to it in the current budget. The river linking project has many
benefits and the same time anxieties are associated.
Coping with annual floods and droughts has been a paramount concern for India
over the years. Such concerns will increase with a growing population and changing
climate. The recent Budget of the newly elected union Government has reconfirmed
its desire to restart the Interlinking of Rivers project which was silent during the
previous regime. Besides introduction and conclusion,this analysis is subdivided
into the four sections which deals with an anecdote of co runners of similar projects,
the Indian plan, benefits and criticisms.
The River inter-linking project has a long history. During the British Colonial Rule,
Sir Arthur Cotton proposed the plan to interlink major Indian rivers in order to
hasten the import and exports of goods from its colony in south Asia, as well as to
address water shortages and drought in south eastern India. In the post
independence period, many ministeries including Indira Gandhi has formulated the
plan and in 2003, the president is his Independence Day speech, declared that the
first aim of the govt is on the networking of rivers. And the Supreme Court has also
directed the govt to speeden up the project of river inter linking.
In India the rainfall in the country is primerly orographic. South West monsoon
accounts for more than 85% precipitation. The uncertainty of occurrence of rainfall
marked by prolonged dry spells and fluctuations in seasonal and annual rainfall is a

serious problem for country. The north eastern region of the country receives heavy
pericipitation in comparison with the north western and southern part. Nation
witness drought and flood simultaneous in the various parts. This excess scarcity
regional disparities and flood-drought cycles have created the need for water
resources management. Thus arises the inter linking of river water project

Who else has done this?

China has a scheme of transferring 48 km3 of water from Yangtze to the Yellow
river to improve water availability in dry plains of Northern China. Chinas Grand
canal and Indias famous Indira Gandhi Canal has a successful history of river
interlinking. In USA the Colorado Big Thomson project which is a minor project
transfers 0.284 km3 of water to South Platte river basin
Another story comes from Lesotho a land locked country in Africa. Lesotho
Highland water project transfers water from Lesotho to South Africa.
The Indian River interlinking Project
The Indian interlinking project has two components 1. The Himalayan Component
2. The Peninsular Component. We are planning to build 30 links and some 3000
storages to connect 37 Himalayan and Peninsular rivers to form a gigantic South
Asian water grid. The canals, planned to be 50 to 100 meters wide and more than 6
meters deep, would facilitate navigation. It will handle 178 km3 of inter-basin water
transfer/per year, build 12,500 km of canals, create 35 giga watts of hydropower
capacity, add 35 million hectare to Indias irrigated areas, and generate an unknown
volume of navigation and fishery benefits.

Cost (crores)
Water transfer m/ha



Link Canal length
Drought mitigation



The river linking project has got many benefits which will prove to be a solution to
Indias problems with water scarcity .We can see both dry and over wet areas
simultaneously in our country .if we are able to link those areas the productivity of
the country as a whole will be doubled .it will have its impact of on securing the
food granary of our nation
It is estimated that by 2050 the per capita availability of water will fall
from the present 1820m3 to 1140m3. The interlinking project will be a boost to
enhance the per capita availability of water.
Another major benefit associated with this project is the successful
mitigation of floods. Every year we are witnessing havoc created by rain. Last year
it was Uttrakhand and this year Jammu & Kashmir is suffering. The deepening of
rivers and inter connectivity will enhance the water storage capacity of rivers and
there by reducing the flood occurrence.
The irrigation capacity of our nation is limited. Still our agriculture is a
gamble on monsoon. If we successfully implement this project our irrigation
potentially can be increased and it will be abilising for our agriculture oriented rural
The India is facing accurate shortage of power hoe and will aggregate
in the coming future .The proposed is expected to increase the hydropower
production to 34000MW.
Another benefit is associated with inland navigation which is a highly
cost effective and ecofriendly from of navigation which will be augmented after the
This project is being criticized from its origin by various
stakeholders. I am articulating certain criticisms which are leveled against this
The huge cost associated with this project, Now $100bn and will be
escalated to $200bn is a major criticism against this project. Another major criticism
is the land acquisition which is a common problem for every development problem

in our country. The increased population is creating pressures and also the political
protests will become a hard nut to crack.
Anothre area of concern is the construction and maintenance of new dams,new
canals,cross drainage structures. Carefull engineering is needed to pacify the
anxiety of various sections of people.Another issue rraised is the submergence of
vast land area after interlinking the rivers. It will have adverse effect on the wild life
especially the rare species that can be endemic to India. Biodiversity is in a serious
challenge and this will also affect the natural landscaping and unfortunately the
nature is beyond our calculations.If we disturb the natural flow of the riverine
system, will it adapt to our new system?
One major issue is the transport of toxic and hazardous polluting materials from one
river to another.many rivers like Yamuna, Ganga is heavily polluted in many areas
and with interlinking it will get transpoprted to other parts too.
Another major area of concern is the coordination between countries and states.
Bhutan, Myanmar,Pakistan,Nepal, Bangladesh, are involved in the after effects of
this project. If they raise their opposition, it will be a problem.Anothre thing is that
water is a state subject and we have witnessed serious disputes with regard to water
sharing between states. So the coordination os states is a majpr problem.

Way forward
The proposed inter linking of rivers project will be win-win situation if
implemented well. The forest cover will be increased to 33% from the current levels
of around 20 %.The nations food security can be guaranteed and the energy
requirements of Future India can be well managed.The navigational benefits will
improve the socio economic condition of the people. But carefull assessment of
risks and proper implementation mechanisms should be established so that it can be
foolproof. The Displacement issues should be strictly monitored and rehabilitated.
The political leadership should have a long term vision so that the project is
efficiently carried out. If the environmental concerns are well managed, the project
will become the lifeline of our country in coming future.
1. Tushaar Shah Upali Amrasinghe Peter McCornick; Indias River Linking
Project: The State of the Debate.
2. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Linking.
3. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Rivers_Inter-link.

4. Kelly D. Alley Indias river linking plan: History and Current Debates.
5. Dharmendra Mehta, Naveen K. Mehta;Interlinking of Rivers in India: Issues
& Challenges
6. www.youtube.com/watch?v=107fsOzg9xM.