Godavari meets Krishna

With the launch of the Pattiseema lift irrigation scheme in Andhra Pradesh, the Godavari was formally connected with the Krishna, and the country took a large step towards its ambitious but long-pending goal to interlink major rivers to eventually form a national water grid.
The 174-km Pattiseema project is not part of the original nationwide inter-state river-linking scheme -the first instance of the national project is the Ken-Betwa connection which will be launched in December this year. However, its significance lies in the fact that it addresses water scarcity in Rayalaseema region and is the first major intra-state river-linking plan.
The Pattiseema project lifts flood water from the Godavari and pumps it into the Polavaram right canal that empties into the river Krishna in Vijayawada. The interlinking of Godavari-Krishna has been on the anvil for almost five decades. Thousands of farmers in Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam, Kurnool, Kadapa, Anantapur and Chittoor districts will gain from the Godavari-Krishna linkage. About 17 lakh acres including 13 lakh acres in the Krishna delta will get assured irrigation water for two crops round the year. Thousands of villages en route will get drinking water supplies.
The next in the pipeline under the national project is the interlinking of Ken (Madhya Pradesh) and Betwa (Uttar Pradesh) rivers. Though Ken-Betwa was touted to be the first river interlink project, under the revised national scheme, AP chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu hurried through the scheme and completed it in record eight months.
The national river interlink project was first conceived about two centuries ago by British engineer Sir Arthur Cotton, who designed the anicuts across the Godavari at Dhowlaiswaram and the Krishna in Vijayawada.The idea was revived by eminent engineer-politician Dr KL Rao about five decades ago.The Polavaram-Vijayawada link was proposed by Dr Rao. Later, TDP founder-president and former chief minister NT Rama Rao and former chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy too played a key role on the Andhra project.
At the national level, the river interlinking project will benefit millions of farmers in north India and down the Vindhyas. The Centre has proposed to create 3,000 storage tanks. A whopping 174 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water will be distributed through canals that run for 14,900 km across the county.
The Centre has also appointed a high-powered task force on the interlinking of the rivers, which once completed will bring an additional 35 million hectares under irrigation. The task force has been given a deadline of 2016 to submit its report.

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