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The River Interlink Case
|by N. Nandhivarman|
The 9th plan document laments that against the national per capita (based on 1991 census) annual availability of 2214 cubic metres of water, the average availability in Brahmaputra river basin is as high as 18470 cu.m while it is as low as 383 cu.m in the east flowing rivers between Pennar and Kanyakumari transfer of river waters. NDA in its manifesto promised interlinking of rivers. The political resolution of the BJP National Council meeting at Nagpur in August 27-28,2000 also stated: We also urge Government to consider a time bound programme to link Ganga and Cauvery waters. The Sethu Samudram canal project also needs to be considered for early action. The BJP has been championing these projects and we owe it to the people to fulfill our commitments to them. Though 9 th plan states this project and in spite of being promised in the election manifesto, this project has not seen the light at the end of the tunnel. Hence Dravida Peravai General Secretary N. Nandhivarman had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court of India, against the Union of India and others. (Writ Petition # 496 of 2001)
In his prayer, the petitioner had sought the apex court's intervention to direct authorities to initiate the implementation of this project in a phased manner and with a time frame. The feasibility reports prepared by the National Water Development Agency under Ministry of Water Resources must be made public along with the reasons for long consumption of time in initiating this project, the petition prays. The petition also seeks details of the total funds spent by Central and all State Governments on flood and drought relief.
The petitioner states that interlinking Ganga and Cauvery was first mooted in 1972 by then Union
The national Water Development agency is only collecting the data's offered by various state governments and compiling them into reports. Even to do that the agency seems to be having 2010 as the time frame to complete all feasibility studies. Moreover like previous proposals this may also be jettisoned citing similar reasons or fresh excuses. Thereafter after 2010, India may go for global tenders to make a study of this project and all will be back to square one in 21st century too. In view of this petitioner had to pray before the court to find out what is going to ultimately happen to this project.
The project prepared by the National Water Development Agency, the petition says, has two components namely Himalayan Rivers Development Component and Peninsular Rivers Development component. Himalayan Rivers Development envisages construction of storage reservoirs on the principal tributaries of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, along with interlinking canal systems to transfer surplus flows of the eastern tributaries of the Ganga to the West, apart from linking of the main Brahmaputra and its tributaries with the Ganga and Ganga with Mahanadi. The Himalayan component would provide additional irrigation of about 22 million hectare and generation of about 30 million KW of hydropower, besides providing substantial flood control in the Ganga & Brahmaputra basins. It would also provide the necessary discharge for augmentation of flows at Farakka required interalia to flush the Calcutta port and the inland navigation facilities across the country.
Peninsular Rivers Development
This component is divided into four major parts.
Construction of an interlinking canal system backed up by adequate storages could be planned to meet all requirements of Kerala as also for transfer of some waters towards east to meet the needs of drought affected areas. The peninsular Component is expected to provide additional irrigation of about 13 million hectare and is expected to generate about 4 million KW of power.
While rivers that flow through different countries had benefited such countries with mutual agreements on water sharing, some Indian states prefer waters to be emptied in oceans instead of benefiting fellow Indians.
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