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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : Plan to link North, South rivers to be revived

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Monday, January 24, 2000


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Plan to link North, South rivers to be revived

By Our Special Correspondent

JAIPUR, JAN. 23. The Union Government is to take up a project for linking the rivers of the North and the South to ensure adequate water availability and food security for the whole country. Linking of the rivers of the North and the South, especially the Ganga and the Cauvery, is an old idea, now being revived by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre.

The Union Government also proposes to convene a meeting of the Chief Ministers after the Assembly elections to discuss the long- pending river water disputes. There will be meetings of the Members of Parliament in March to discuss the water issues. A meeting of the MPs from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal has already been held in this connection.

The Union Minister for Water Resources, Dr. C. P. Thakur, who was on a two-day visit of Rajasthan told newspersons here on Saturday that the North-South rivers would be joined with canals. There could be a garland system linking various rivers and then basin to basin linkages as well. Even the Sharada of the neighboring Nepal could form a part of the system, he noted.

Dr. Thakur said that there had been a proposal, conceived by the former Union Minister of State Mr. K. L. Rao, some years ago to link the Ganga and the Cauvery. The basic approach was on the grounds that the North had more water sources compared to the Southern parts and the Ganga had surplus flow during the three months of monsoon which needed to be drained out.The Centre would consider approaching an international funding agency once the whole concept was worked out,he said.

There could be South-South connections and North-North connections for rivers. In the North the Brahmaputra could be connected by canals to the Kosi and to the Ganga. Water could be brought as far as Rajasthan from the Sharada in Nepal. Once Tapti and Son Canal were linked, Delhi, Rajasthan and even Lucknow would benefit from it. ``We have to get ready for the next century. Water is going to create more tension than anything else in the world'', he said.

However Dr. Thakur conceded that a stupendous Rs. 3.3-lakh millions would be required for carrying out the project.

Referring to the projects held up due to public agitations, the Minister said that the Government was keen on initiating a dialogue with the concerned parties to settle the differences. Talking specifically about Sardar Sarovar, Dr. Thakur said that the project should have been completed 4-5 years ago. Had it been completed the South-West Rajasthan and Gujarat State would not have faced water problems.

``The issue is more political than technical'', Dr. Thakur noted talking about the Narmada dispute. ``One needs to sit and discuss it. There is no problem which cannot be solved through a dialogue. All the issues including rehabilitation of the evaquees could be discussed'', he said. As for the opposition to big dams, the Minister said China and the United States had big dams. ``The advantages are much more than the disadvantages'', he argued.


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