Interlinking of Rivers

M.S Swaminathan on river linking

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 31, 2005

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Well-known agricultural scientist and chairman, National Commission on Farmers, M. S. Swaminathan, has favoured construction of the Polavaram project and for that matter any big project, provided the environmental and social aspects are taken care of. Speaking to reporters after meeting the Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, on Thursday, he said such big projects were the need of the hour in the light of the Bharat Nirman programme under which 1 crore hectares of additional ayacut would be brought under the plough. It was not the first time that big projects were taken up in the world, he said, citing the Aswan Dam in Egypt and the Three Gorges project in China. Dr. Swaminathan, however, wanted a realistic assessment of benefits and risks before embarking upon any big project. If a particular project displaced tribals and others and affected the environment, sufficient steps must be taken up. "It's a win-win situation for people and the environment. There is no free lunch." Asked to comment on Medha Patkar's strong opposition to Polavaram project, he said, "some people are ideologically opposed to big dams and prefer smaller ones." He said his policies "are going on right direction." During the meeting, Dr Swaminathan and the Chief Minister discussed the need for bridging the gaps between scientific knowledge and field-level needs.

Interlinking of Rivers

Medha Patekar on River linking

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 31, 2005

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A day after the State Government secured the much-awaited environmental clearance for the Polavaram (Indirasagar) project, noted environmental activist Medha Patkar and the tribals facing displacement strongly opposed the Government's moves to go ahead with the project. "What the project has secured from the Centre is only environmental clearance. But there is no forest clearance yet which is mandatory for any major dam," Ms. Medha Patkar said at an interface with the adivasis. Asserting that the project was part of efforts to boost industrialisation at the expense of agriculture and tribal areas, she volunteered to spearhead the agitations to be launched by tribals against giving clearances to Indirasagar project in violation of the people's right to life and the right to livelihood guaranteed by the Constitution.

Interlinking of Rivers

Green Clearance for Andhra Project

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 28, 2005

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One of India's first river-linking projects, Polavaram, received the Centre's environmental clearance on 26th October 2005. The Pollavaram project(AP), renamed Indirasagar, aims at taking 80 TMC of water from river Godavari, the country's second-largest river, to river Krishna. The multi-purpose project, when completed, will irrigate some three lakh hectares of farmland and generate 960 MW of power.

The revised project cost is Rs 13,000 crore, of which Rs 4,000 cr is to be used exclusively to address environmental issues, apart from relief and rehabilitation of 48,000 families across 288 habitations.

Interlinking of Rivers

More opinions

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 23, 2005

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Deliberations in a workshop on "Interlinking of Rivers: Doable and Desirable?" organized by the West Bengal Academy of Science and Technology. The main points are as follows:

  • It was recognized that the parameters to determine water surplus and water scarce areas are contentious issues and the relevant data and details are not available in public domain
  •  The execution of this Mega Project requires consensus with the neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and China 
  •  Any withdrawal of water at Upper catchments deplete water resources downstream and changes river dynamics and parameters of his flood and delta plain 
  •  The transfer of water from other basins even if doable, is unlikely to ameliorate the drought prone regions of the country for which local and regional watershed development and rain and surface water harvesting need to be practiced 
  •  An assessment of present and optimal use is necessary within donor basis after ensuring that other cost effective alternatives for augmentation of water resources in receiving basins have been implemented and requirement of water scientifically assessed so that such transfers are minimal and within say or similar agro-climatic zones.

Prof. Sisir K.Sen, Kolkatta

Interlinking of Rivers

Studied Opinions

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 23, 2005

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Below are objections raised by a group of learned men led by Shri V.B. Eswaran, Former Secretary, GOI and seconded by Dr. R.N. Athavale of Hyderabad (AP)and fifty others.

  1. A project that was not on the anvil has suddenly become the most important undertaking of the Government because of some observations of the Supreme Court on a writ petition; this seems to be the case of bypassing the Planning courses.
  2. The National Commission for Integrated Water Resources Development Plan in its report (September 1999) had observed that further studies were needed on the Himalayan Component and that in the Peninsular Component massive water transfers were not needed.
  3.  The claim that the project will be a net generator of large quantities of electric power needs very careful examination. Even if all the rivers linking proposal are implemented, the contribution that this will make to the mitigation of floods may not be substantial.
  4. The river linking project, if implemented, will take water only to a small part of the arid or drought prone areas, large parts of such areas will remain unserved and will have to meet their requirement through the local augmentation of water availability. In arid or drought prone areas, the transported water made lead to the introduction of irrigated agriculture of a kind more appropriate to wet areas.
  5. Apart from its inevitable social and human impacts, the project is potentially fraught with serious environmental and ecological consequences that need to be studied and evaluated carefully.
  6. The announcement of a decision on a Mega Project in advance of the prescribed processes of preparation, examination, evaluation and clearance for each of the twenty or thirty projects included in it may reduce those processes to a mere formality. The feasibility studies of proposed links should be put into the public domain for people of diverse disciplines and concerns outside the Government to examine and offer their comments.
  7. Intra basin disputes need to be tackled through the better, more economical and more cooperative management of the basin, rather than through imports of water from another basin. The project has already led to strong objections from several states and several new inter-state conflicts may arise because of the project.
  8.  If no transfers from the Ganga are envisaged, the Government should make clear to all as there is much expectation in the southern states of waters from the north. The huge costs involved in the linking of rivers and long distance water transfers will make the water at the receiving and very costly.
  9. The Government, after examination of the issues as pointed out above, may explain the position suitably to the Supreme Court.

Interlinking of Rivers

Ken-Betwa Link

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 23, 2005

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Chapter 11 of the project report online lists the environmental and ecological aspects of the project. The K-B link project comprises a storage reservoir on Ken river and a 232 km long link canal to transfer surplus waters from Ken to Betwa river. Out of the total submergence area of 8650 ha, 6400 ha is forest area. The region is covered by dense to moderate forests. The balance area of 2171 ha is cultivable area and an equivalent area of land has to be acquired for the displaced families.

Interlinking of Rivers

Government site for riverlinking

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 22, 2005

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Please visit the site

http://www.riverlinks.nic.in/index.asp

 which is the official site for river-linking in India. The democracy that we are, the site also invites opinions from the public . The full report on the Ken- Betwa link can be downloaded from the following link

http://www.riverlinks.nic.in/fr_kenbetwa.asp

Interlinking of Rivers

Kerala not permitting river-linking project

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 19, 2005

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Kerala's rivers have a short running span but significant ecological functions to perform from their points of origin in the Western Ghats. Periyar, the longest river of the state with a 244-km stretch, has already lost 22 per cent of its average flow due to diversions. Another river - Bharathapuzha - has its flow reduced by 12 per cent on its 209-km long journey to the sea. Chalakudy, the 140-km long river, has been the biggest victim with 37 per cent reduction in its natural flow. The Kerala Minister for Water resources and forests has said the Union Government cannot take a unilateral stand on the proposed Pampa-Achenkoil Interlinking.

Interlinking of Rivers

Scientific Reports

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 15, 2005

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There is an urgent need for scientific study reports to be made available in the public domain. In the absence of transparency in big projects, media reports become the only source of news and these reports can be manipulated/used for political aims. Worse still, extreme positions are taken by the affected parties with the result that sustainable solutions become difficult to implement

Interlinking of Rivers

The Assam experience-Official statement in Parliament

Posted by Susan Sharma on September 25, 2005

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"Interlinking of rivers under National Perspective Plan (NPP) prepared by Central Government envisages construction of storage dams. The storage dams reduce the severity of floods and flood damages considerably.

Preliminary studies done by National Water Development Agency (NWDA), the flood peaks are estimated to be reduced by about 20-30% in Brahmaputra basin. Under the NPP, Manas-Sankosh-Tista-Ganga link project has been identified for preparation of Feasibility Report. According to the preliminary studies done by NWDA, irrigation benefits to the extent of 2.08 lakh hectare to Assam State in the districts of Goalpar, Dhubri, Kokrajhar and Barpeta is envisaged under the link."

However, the National Water Development Agency which functions under the central Water Resources Ministry has not been able to release any of its studies and reports to the public.




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