Of inter-linking India's rivers....

After almost a decade of political objections and green activists’ opposition, the Cabinet is likely to clear the ambitious project to inter-link rivers. The process will begin with the connection of MP’s Ken and Betwa.
The Ken-Betwa link is one of the 30 projects to be green lighted by the apex court following a tripartite MoU signed between the water resources ministry and the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh CMs.
The SC had in February, 2012 directed the Centre to implement the inter-linking of rivers (ILR) project in a time-bound manner and appointed a high-powered panel to plan and implement it.
The proposal was given a fresh thrust by water resources minister Harish Rawat. The government claims that on completion of all 30 projects, water will be available to irrigate 35 million hectares, generate up to 34,000 mw of hydro power and control floods in many states.
Though initially mooted in 1982, the proposal was actively taken up by the NDA government but fell off the radar once UPA came to office. A section of environmentalists opposed the project saying it was unviable. The proposal also came to be seen as a NDA hobby horse.
Rawat, keen on implementing the project at the earliest ever since the 2012 Supreme Court nod, will bring the proposal before the Cabinet on Thursday.
“Since all the related matters... have already been resolved for the Ken-Betwa and couple of more projects, the government’s apex decision making body may not find it difficult to give its go ahead on Thursday,” said an official.
Though nearly 8,650 hectare of MP forest land is likely to be submerged if the Ken-Betwa river project is implemented, the MoU had factored in these issues. The proposal is also meant for inter-linking of rivers in Bihar and Maharashtra, which will be taken up for implementation during the 12th Five Year Plan.
Though total cost of all the river linking projects is estimated at around Rs.5,60,000 crore, the actual cost will be known only after the DPRs of all the 30 river link projects are drawn up.
The full ILR project has two components. The Peninsular component involves 16 south Indian rivers. The Himalayan part involves 14 rivers, besides building of reservoirs on the Ganga and the Brahmaputra and their tributaries in India and Nepal in order to conserve the waters during the monsoon for irrigation and generation of hydro-power.

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