Interlinking rivers - Objectives and Pros & Cons

Interlinking rivers - Objectives and Pros & Cons

Question: Interlinking the rivers of India will have benefits as well as drawbacks. Discuss the objectives of the recent task force constituted on the issue of interlinking rivers and the pros as well as cons of river interlinkages.

Task Force on Interlinking of Rivers: Objectives

A. About the task force:

• Recently, the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has formed Task Force for interlinking of rivers.

• Chairman of the task force: B. N. Navalawala

• Expert members of the Task force:

- Sriram Vedire: Adviser in Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation

- Prodipto Ghosh: Ex Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests

- A.D. Mohile: Ex Chairman, Central Water Commission

- M. Gopalkrishnan: Ex Member, Central Water Commission

- Virag Gupta: Advocate

• Other members of the task force: Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, Chairman of the Central Water Commission, Director General of the National Water Development Agency and Joint Secretary(Finance) in the Ministry of Water Resources

B. The task force objectives are:

• Expediting work on interlinking rivers in the nation

• Studying links under the National Perspective Plan under Himalayan and Peninsular components

• Forming alternative plans instead of infeasible links in the current plan

• Interlinking of intra-state as well as within basin rivers along with inter-state and inter-basin links

• Recommendations for when feasibility studies and DPRs of all the links will finish Implementation schedule of links

• Proposing funding mechanisms for interlinking rivers

• Setting norms in appraising individual projects for economic viability, socioeconomic and environmental impacts

• Preparation of resettlement plans

• Encouraging speedy consensus amidst the states and take forward the implementation of the program for interlinking rivers.


• Irrigation of millions of hectares of land previously unirrigated is a plus.

• Complete use of existing and current irrigation projects is another bonus

• The projects will generate power up to 34,000 MW

• Additional benefits include flood control and better management of natural

• A major plus is “water balance” diverting water from areas where flooding is more likely to areas which constantly experience drought

• For peninsular India, the National Water Development Agency has considered 16 links in major river basins; feasibility studies of 7 of the links indicate interlinking is viable

• Wide variation in rainfall is a negative; interlinking will shift water from surplus to deficit regions

• Interlinking will prevent floods in north and east, droughts in the south and west

• It will lessen dependancy on monsoon for irrigation

• It will ensure water supply to farmers throughout the year

• Interlinking rivers will promote national integration


• Cost of the project is a hefty INR 5,60,000 crore;

• Interlinking may cause flooding and water-logging leading to salinity of soil

• Natural habitats and flora, fauna will be negatively impacted by the interlinking

• Massive drought during summer months is easily rectified through water conservation; interlinking is not the solution

• Change in water depth and temperature can open way for invasive species into natural habitats

• Change in flooding patterns will impact lifecycle of species, affect soil quality and damage and erode areas

• Interlinking rivers will impact allied industries such as fishing negatively

• People will be dislocated

• Interlinking the rivers is tampering with nature

• There could be extensive ecological and demographical damage from interlinking

• Water grid may be a more economically viable solution than interlinking of rivers

Facts and Stats

• India has 2.4% of the world’s land area and 8% of its biodiversity

• Altering the flow of rivers can have unnatural consequences, experts opine

• So far, only the Ken-Betwa project has successfully been placed under survey; for this, an MoU had been signed between Union Water Ministry and CMs of UP and MP but 8650 ha of forestland in MP will be submerged as part of this project; parts of this land are an integral section of the Panna National Park
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