Interlinking of Rivers: Advantages & Disadvantages

Interlinking of Rivers: Advantages & Disadvantages

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Water  is  one of the most important  natural  resource present on earth and it is the availability of water that sustains all aspects of life in a way that no other resource can. According to United Nations agencies and the World  Bank the problem of water crises will further escalate  in  the  future,  creating  serious  problems  for  humankind  and  the  environment. Now days we hear the news that fight started due to sharing of water or some international disputes among different countries regarding sharing of water. The Indus Water treaty between India and Pakistan and Farakkha Barrage Water Sharing between India and Bangladesh are best example. An acceptable water sharing policy must be their between neighboring countries so that they can avail the water necessary for sustaining the life. These type of issues are very rampant among developing nation but can be also encountered in other countries as well. But what about the water available within one country? Many countries in the world has very good river system but they are able to harness the water of river only during the time when river flows at its peak. Rest of the year the countries face severe drought and not able to produce enough crop for their own population. The same type of problem India faces every year as India is 7th largest country in the world and  needs a lot of water for irrigation purpose. But unfortunately India receives rainfall only in 4 months i.e. during the monsoons and it is during this time of the year that rivers of India flow in its full might. During this time of the year these rivers bring flood to many part of the country and then once the rainy season gets over major part of India faces drought. Keeping this in mind  the  Government  of  India  came out with the plan of Interlinking of the Rivers of the India. Under the Interlinking of Rivers major rivers of India would be linked to one another via a network of channels so that the water can be shared among different rivers and at the same time reduce the deadly effects of drought. The Interlinking of River was proposed by India’s National Water  Development  Agency  (NWDA)  has  suggested  the  inter-linking of rivers of the country. Before proceeding further let me explain few pints whey Interlining of Rivers is a necessary thing for whole world and especially for India.

A detailed map showing how the Interlinking of Rivers would be carried out in India

  • India receives about 4,000 cubic kilometers of rain annually, but this rainy season in India is of only 4 months and rest 8 months remain dry.
  • The Monsoon Wind that brings rainfall also showers depending upon the geographical location. The Northern and the Eastern region of India receives more rainfall than the western and the southern region. In east Mawsynram is the wettest place and in west Thar is a desert.
  • India is an agricultural country and an average farmer in India grows three crops annually. He gets rain water for one season but is directly dependent on ground water for rest of the year.
  • Indian farmer is largely dependent on Ground water and over 50 percent of crops are irrigated with the help of 20 million tube wells installed. About 15 percent of India’s food is being produced using rapidly depleting groundwater. With so much stress on ground water it is going to create huge water crises in future as ground water are the source of fresh water.
  • Most of the rivers of India in northern region are perennial in nature while the peninsular rivers are non-perennial. The rivers origination from Himalayas causes huge floods while the rivers of south remain flow with less water throughout the river. 
  • There has been various protest in India about River water sharing and Kaveri River water dispute is best example to understand this. The interlinking of rivers will allow rivers to have sufficient water throughout the year. 

After discussing the importance of Interlinking of Rivers in India lets talk about how the project would be executed and the cost incurred while completing this project.

How the project will work in India and the cost incurred in completion of Interlinking of Rivers.

The interlinking of Rivers was planned in difference phases. First phase consisted of only study and feasibility of project. The entire project was divided into two parts 1: Himalayan Rivers Development & 2: Peninsular Rivers Development. Himalayan Rivers Development Project targets construction of storage reservoirs on the main Ganges River and the Brahmaputra River and their principal tributaries in India and Nepal. The interlinking project will provide irrigation to about 22 million hectares of land and will generate 30million kilo watt of hydroelectricity. The only problem in this would be a equal water sharing negation from all the neighboring country of India. This part will consist of construction of Dams on Ganges and Bhramaputra River in India and also in Nepal and Bhutan for storage of water. The Peninsular River Project consist of  Interlinking of following rivers.

  • Interlinking of Mahanadi-Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery
  • Interlinking of West Flowing Rivers, North of Bombay and South of Tapi
  • Inter-linking of Ken with Chamba

The peninsular project will add an additional 25 million hectares of land for irrigation and it will help in controlling the seasonal floods caused by rivers. This project aims to divert water from eastern part of India to drought hit western part. Under Phase I Krishna and Kaveri the two important rivers of Peninsular India would all be inter-linked by canals. Reservoirs and dams would be built along the course of these rivers. Under Phase II, rivers that flow west to the north of Mumbai and the south of Tapi in Gujrat would be inter-linked. In Phase 3, the Ken and Chambal rivers would be inter-linked to serve regional water needs of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Over Phase 4, a number of west-flowing rivers in the Western Ghats, would be inter-linked for irrigation purposes to east flowing rivers such as Cauvery and Krishna.

The cost of implementation a project of such a huge size is mammoth and it was estimated to be around $ 1400 billion in year 2002. Now it has been nearly 15 years and the cost of implementation of the same project would have increased at least twice. The cost is very high but looking at the long term purpose of such an ambitious project givers hope that India can achieve a better irrigation infrastructure and control on seasonal floods.