From Bharathi to 2019: Will linking of rivers happen?

hief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami had also been urging the Centre to implement the river linking project.

Union minister Nitin Gadkari, after his party’s rout in Tamil Nadu, this week, tweeted, “My first job would be to link Godavari and Krishna and this (will) bring water to Tamil Nadu.” The tweet further said, “This is what BJP is all about. Even though you reject #TNRejectsBJP, they will do their duty”. He apparently meant to tell TN people that the BJP-led Central government cared for them.

In January this year, the minister had announced that the DPR for linking the Godavari and Cauvery rivers at a cost of Rs 60,000 crore was ready and would be submitted to the Cabinet soon. He had said after Cabinet gives the go-ahead, funds would be raised from the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank.

While there was a dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over 45 tmcft every year, 1,100 tmcft of Godavari water was going waste into the sea, he said.

The project, conceived under the national river connectivity programme, would make use of Godavari water going waste into the sea and help resolve the water dispute among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

It proposed to take the backwaters of Godavari to Krishna and from Krishna to Pennar and from there to tail end areas of Cauvery in Tamil Nadu. Also water would be carried through specially designed steel pipes instead of canals to minimize water loss.

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami had also been urging the Centre to implement the river linking project.

Responding to Gadkari’s tweet, PMK founder S. Ramadoss said the initiative to link Godavari-Krishna-Cauvery, would help realise about 200 tmcft water in Cauvery throughout the year. He urged the Central government to sanction the project at its maiden Cabinet meeting.

Last month, Superstar Rajinikanth had praised the BJP for promising to link the rivers in its manifesto. He said that if the party comes to power it should take up linking of rivers as its first project for implementation.

However, experts and engineers are sceptical over implementation of the river linking project. With climate change and water crisis haunting the country and several states, sharing of river waters may not be feasible now. Also states may be ready to share only surplus water when their rivers get flooded. Besides, concerns have been raised over biodiversity being affected if rivers are linked.

Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi had voiced his support for interlinking rivers in his poem decades ago.

The BJP-led government, taking into consideration the concern of all four states, must work on implementing the project which is likely to end water scarcity and improve agriculture in the country.

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