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Thursday, December 04, 2003
 
Business Standard .. Panel to study river linking project

Panel to study river linking project

Our Agriculture Editor in New Delhi
Published : November 20, 2003

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has taken up an elaborate project on the strategic analysis of India’s ambitious river-linking programme.

Besides ascertaining the adequacy of the proposed inter-basin links in meeting the future water needs, the research proposal will assess its cost-effectiveness and sustainability.

Revealing this at a press meet here, IWMI officials said the river-linking project prima facie appeared practical though several hurdles would have to be overcome before it could be implemented. The three-year study would aim at identifying the best practices to implement the project as well as the national water sector perspective plan (NWSPP) as a fallback strategy in case the river-linking project failed to come up. Moreover, it will also generate a national debate on the inter-basin transfer of water.

Water everywhere

* The river-linking project will be the largest infrastructure works ever undertaken in the world

* Under the project, 30 links and some 3,000 storages will be built to connect 37 Himalayan and Peninsular rivers to form a gigantic water grid

* It will cost a whopping $120 billion and handle 178 sq cubic kms of inter-basin water transfer per year

* 12,500 km of canals will be built, 35 giga watts of hydro-power capacity created and 35 million hectares will be added to the total irrigated area

The IWMI is one of the 16 international farm research institutes (called Future Harvest Centres), supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Its headquarter is in Sri Lanka.

The IWMI opened an office in New Delhi yesterday, signalling a growing commitment towards addressing vital water-related issues in India. It already has an office at Anand in Gujarat.

The mammoth river-linking project, being formulated by the high-powered multi-disciplinary task force headed by Suresh Prabhu, will be the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in the world. Under the project, 30 links, some 3,000 storages and 12,500 km of canals will be built to connect 37 Himalayan and Peninsular rivers and form a gigantic water grid.

According to rough calculations, it will cost a whopping $120 billion and handle 178 sq cubic kms of inter-basin water transfer per year.

The project will create 35 giga watts of hydro-power capacity and add 35 million hectares to the total irrigated area.

It will also generate a substantial volume of navigation and fishery benefits. The IWMI officials pointed out the institute’s work in India would be aimed basically at finding new and innovative ways to address the water needs of the poor. Its experience has shown that wastewater can constitute an important source of irrigation.

At present, wastewater irrigation is growing rapidly along the Musi river in Hyderabad. This helps meet part of the city’s requirement of food, fodder and ornamental crops.

An estimated 45,000 hectares of land are irrigated with domestic and industrial wastewater flowing from the city. Utilisation of wastewater for irrigation as such is relatively more economical than its treatment to make it fit for other uses, they maintain.

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