River Interlinking to Take Off by December

The government's Rs.5.5-lakh-crore plan to undertake 30 river interlinking projects, which is likely to end excessive floods and drought in the country, will take off by the end of this year. The newly appointed water resources minister Nitin Gadkari has issued instructions to his officials asking them to take up the projects in a phased manner.

The Union minister has also called meetings with the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh in the next 15 days.

Gadkari has requested Madhya Pradesh chief minister to give all clearances for the Ken-Betwa project at the earliest. The project envisages fulfilling water needs of Bundelkhand region, which falls in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The Ken-Betwa project will make almost 6 lakh hectares of land irrigable in the Bundelkhand region.

The river-linking initiative was envisaged during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government when a plan to connect 14 Himalayan and 16 peninsular rivers was unveiled. The plan envisaged the construction of 30 canals and 3,000 reservoirs to irrigate 87 million hectares of land, and produce 34 gigawatt of hydro electricity.

The national river linking project will ease the water shortages in western and southern India while mitigating the impacts of recurrent floods in eastern India. The project will transfer 174 billion cubic meters of water through a canal network of about 14900 km.

Vajpayee had formed a task force on interlinking of rivers under chairman Suresh Prabhu. The blueprint of interlinking rivers was prepared. However, the project could not take off as several states were not on board.

Gadkari, who's also the roads transport and shipping minister, said that he'll ensure that chief ministers are on board at the soonest.

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