Palaces For The People
Thursday, December 04, 2003
Shall Dhaka open eyes? 30 river links identified

Shall Dhaka open eyes? 30 river links identified
By Special Correspondent
Nov 16, 2003, 05:43

The Indian Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to give a status report on the progress made in the Rs 5,60,000-crore river networking project. The project aims at linking major rivers by 2016. The second phase of the project has already begun, says a message received from Delhi.

A Bench comprising Justice Y K Sabharwal and Justice S B Sinha gave four weeks’ time to the government to file an affidavit, detailing the progress made in the working out of the action plan II of river networking.

Appearing for the Centre, counsel Sayed Naqvi stated that a task force, chaired by former environment minister Suresh Prabhu, had already identified 30 major links in networking of the rivers to minimise the effects of flood and drought.

This contradicts the Bangladesh government’s ‘contentment’ that the Indian government has not initiated a project for river linking, because during the last Joint Rivers Commission meeting held in Delhi in September, the Bangladesh side was assured that the thing was still at a ‘conceptual stage’.

India watchers are surprised that the Bangladesh government has taken assurance from the Indian water Resources Minister Arjun Charan Sethi as words of Bible when his Prime Minister AB Vajpayee and President Abdul Kalam reaffirmed their commitment to implementation of the river-linking plan.

In last April, the Indian task force on river-linking had considered and adopted the first action plan, which gave the outline of the time schedule for the completion of feasibility studies, detailed project reports, estimated cost, implementation schedule, concrete benefits and advantages of the project.
The Centre said that under the action plan II, two committees had been set up under K V Kamath to look into the financial aspect of the project.

Naqvi informed the court that the river networking had been taken up by the government on priority basis. He said work had started in the Betwa and Parvati rivers in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh respectively.

The feasibility report of the link had already been drawn for the Betwa river. A detailed report was being worked out, he said. For the Parvati river too, the feasibility report was being worked out, he added.

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