What are the various concerns around the proposed interlinking of rivers project? In the light of these concerns, are there any better and simpler alternatives to meet our future water needs? Discuss.

Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) is an ambitious project of the Indian government which aims to transfer water from one river system to another or by lifting across natural basins.
Some of the concerns include-

  • Environmental costs- deforestation, soil- erosion, etc.
  • Rehabilitation.
  • Social unrest/Psychological damage due to forced resettlement of local people Political effects- strained relationship with neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh. The ILR project is believed to have caused anger and protest Bangladesh. There is the fear of diversion of water from the Brahmaputra and the Ganges, which provides 85% of the country’s fresh water flow in the dry season. Therefore, diversion would make the country water scarce.
  • Long term planning and a sound financial simulation are required to meet the standard of due diligence for such proposals. The huge expenditure may likely generate fiscal problems that are difficult to handle.
  • Maintenance cost.

Therefore, keeping these concerns in mind, Inter-linking of rivers in the name of delivering water to the water scarce areas will be not the cost effective way.
A better and simpler alternative to meet our future water needs in comparison to IRL would be National Waterways Project (NWP), because unlike ILR where once water given to another state cannot be drawn back, under NWP there is no problem in sharing water as it is water grid and no state is a giver and every state is a receiver. It would end up being a win-win situation for all states.


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