RIVER INTER LINKING – IS IT REALLY A MIRAGE ?
K.Periasamy M.Tech ( Chem Engg)
River Inter Linking scheme in India has a fairly long history. During British era, Sir Arthur Cotton, a
Colonel proposed the linking of major Indian rivers in 1858, and it was not taken up seriously then
since the British gave priority for Railway links. In 1970s, Dr.K.L.Rao, the then Irrigation Minister,
who himself is a water expert proposed the National Water grid for transferring surplus water from
northern rivers to the water deficit areas of south India. During this period many irrigation schemes
involving some Intra-State river link projects were executed, though this Inter - State projects could
not be taken up for financial reasons. In late 1970s, Captain Dastur a pilot, proposed the concept of
Garland canals, one for the Himalayan rivers and the other for the Peninsular rivers. Ultimately, all the
schemes aimed at transferring the surplus water from one region to the other.
In 1980, the then government took a serious initiative and came out with the National Perspective Plan
which proposed the Inter-Basin River water transfers. It set up the National Water Development
Agency( NWDA) in 1982. NWDA took up the study of various links and completed Feasibility Report
( FR) of 30 Links, 16 in Himalayan region and 14 in Peninsular, with one of them as an alternate.
In response to a Public Interest Litigation filed based on the speech by Dr.Abdul Kalam, the then
President of India, the Supreme Court gave a verdict in 2002 that Central Government shall constitute
an Empowered Committee for speedy implementation of the River Inter Link Projects. It set a deadline
of 2016 for completion. The Government appointed an Empowered Committee under the Chairmanship
of Suresh Prabhu, the then Power Minister and studied the various Links. But subsequently nothing
However, in response to the Supreme Court verdict, there were lot of criticisms on various grounds
like, environmental impact, forest area loss, human displacement, objection by some State
Governments, very high investments, Judicial activism, etc. Due to the visibility of these arguments by
way of high decibel discussions in the generic media, supported by certain NGOs and vested foreign
interests, one tends to think whether the River Inter Liking Projects will ever be implemented in India
or will these projects continue to remain as a mirage !
The lack of serious initiative from the Central Government even after 12 years of this land mark
judgment adds ammunition to these criticisms. Out of the 29 Links, just one Link, Ken-Betwa in
Madhya Pradesh has been cleared for implementation recently after almost 12 years of the judgment.
Just two other Links, Damanganga-Pinjal link and Par-Tapi-Narmada link have been taken up for
preparation of Detailed Project Reports(DPRs).
The Inter Basin River water transfer schemes have been extensively studied over many years by experts
from all discipline from all angles. Not just by Civil engineers and Agricultural experts. They have
decisively concluded that technically it is very much possible to execute these projects with a guarantee
for the required rate of return on investment and with least environmental impact. No one wants to
mislead by saying that there will be no environmental impact.
Let us analyse the pros and cons of these projects in simple terms with an open mind and understand
them in the right perspective. With a clear understanding of the subject let us drive and support the new
Central Government for implementing it in right earnest so that all the Links are completed in 15 to 20
years, if not earlier.
River Inter Linking Projects
The River Inter Linking scheme, alternately called as Inter Basin River Water Transfer scheme, has two
Components : A. Himalayan Component. B. Peninsular Component.
The following are the List of Links finally approved by the National Water Development Authority and
Central Water Commission under these two components.
A. Himalayan Component (Figure- 1) :
1. Kosi – Mechi
2. Kosi – Ghagra
3. Gandak – Ganga
4. Ghagra – Yamuna
5. Sarda – Yamuna
6. Yamuna – Rajasthan
7. Rajasthan – Sabati
8. Chunar – Sone Barrage
9. Sone Dam – Southern Tributaries of
10. Brahmaputra – Ganga ( MTSG )
11. Brahmaputra – Ganga ( JTF ) –
(Alternate for 10 )
12. Farraka – Sunderbans
13. Ganga – Damodar – Subernrekha
14. Subernrekha - Mahanathi
B. Peninsular Component (Figure-2) :
1. Mahanadi ( Manibhadra) – Godavari
2. Godavari ( Inchampalli ) – Krishna
3. Godavari ( Inchampalli ) – Krishna
( Nagarjunasagar Tail Pond )
4. Godavari ( Polavaram ) – Krishna
( Vijayawada )
5. Krishna ( Almati ) - Pennar
6. Krishna ( Srisailam ) - Pennar
7. Krishna ( Nagarjunasagar ) –
Pennar ( Somasila )
8. Pennar ( Somasila ) – Cauvery ( Grand
9. Cauvery ( Kattalai ) – Vaigai - Gundar
10. Ken – Betwa
11. Parbati – Kalisindh – Chambal
12. Par – Tapi – Narmada
13. Damanganga – Pinjal
14. Bedti – Varda
15. Netravati – Hemavati
16. Pamba – Achankoil - Vaipar
These 29 Links were planned when the large Tunnel Boring Machines were not that familiar.
Now with the onset of these machines, these Links can further be split into several Sub-Links
connecting the rivers at appropriate locations depending upon the topography. This has
substantial scope for reducing the human displacement, agricultural land loss, forest area loss,
bridge requirements over the road / rail / existing canals, etc. This kind of new developments will
anyway be taken care during the Detailed Project Report (DPR) stage.
Figure-3 provides an idea of the water surplus and deficit situations in different regions in India.
These projects when implemented will save 200 Billion Cubic Meter ( BCM) or 6000 Thousand
Million Cubic Feet (TMC) of water going waste to sea every year and,
1) Provide irrigation for additional 35 million hectares, leading to additional food grain
production of 90 million tons,
2) Generate net additional 100 Billion units of electricity per year from 30,000 MW of
installed capacity after providing for pumping the water in certain regions.
3) Provide 12 Billion Cubic Meter ( BCM ) of drinking and industrial water.
4) Mitigate flooding in several districts.
5) Reduce hardships associated with frequent Drought in many States.
6) Provide clean drinking water to several crores of people and reduce incidence of diseases
like diarrhea, kidney stone, gastric problems, etc associated with use of bore well water,
polluted water, etc.
7) Reduce migration of people to long distance cities by way of increased economic
development in the rural neighbourhood.
Apart from these major benefits there are many other benefits like inland navigation, air
pollution control by way of reduced dryland, water pollution, inland fisheries, animal
The benefits accruing from each Link is given in Table-1.
Now let us analyse the perceived negative aspects of these projects in detail.
The estimated Forest Land required, Total land required and the number of people expected to be
displaced are given in Table -2. Please note that these Canals will be about 100 -150 m wide only
as against even a KM wide ( 1000 m) in case of rivers. In fact, with the advent of large Tunnel
Boring Machines (as large as 60 feet dia) the proportion of open canals can be substantially
reduced, thereby minimizing human displacement to a great extent. Moreover, we can have
more number of Links with multiple Tunnels originating at several small dams, instead of single
large open Canals originating from large dams. Use of Tunnel Boring machines in selected
locations needs to be analysed from various aspects like saving in net total submergence, human
displacement, environmental impacts, cost-benefit analysis, etc.
For example, in Andhra Pradesh two Tunnels of 38 Feet Dia are under construction for
transferring about 36 TMC or 1.2 BCM of water across Amrabad plateau running beneath the
Nagarjuna Sagar Tiger Reserve Forest for a distance of 19 KM. This is done without disturbing
even a single square feet of forest land.
Land requirement for the proposed dams is inevitable. It is estimated to be about 7,65,000
hectares for all the 29 Links. Compare this with that of the 3,50,00,000 hectares of land to be
irrigated. The area that will be irrigated is about 46 times of the area being submerged. Please
note, this 7,65,000 hectares will not always be submerged. There will be vegetation in the upper
reaches of the dams whenever these dams are not full.
When all these projects are implemented, about 1.4 million people are expected to be displaced.
Human displacement is not anything new in the history of mankind. In India, annually average
of about 2 Million people migrate from villages to towns, from towns to cities and from India to
abroad. This migration happens in a haphazard manner and we are forced to handle a host of
complex social and economic issues. Compared to this, the displacement of 1.4 million people
due to these 29 projects is nothing. Moreover, this displacement is expected to happen in a
planned manner with direct government intervention over a period of 2 to 3 decades.
Further, these Projects will reduce the long distance migrations to a great extent owing to the
improved economic activity that will take place in rural areas. We need to take credit for this
aspect while considering the human displacement due to these projects. This also has associated
environmental benefits by way of lesser transport requirements of people and resources over
Table - 2
Land Required and Human Displacement due to
Dams and Link Canals of Proposed Links
Estimated number of
people who may be
Himalayan Dams 4 300 162 304 245 079
Himalayan Link Canals 16 758 99 315 311 849
Peninsular Dams 73 646 404 843 611 313
Peninsular Link Canals 9 165 99 046 311 004
Total 103 869 765 508 1 479 245
Negative Environmental Impacts
The following are the important negative environmental impacts that are likely to happen when
this River Inter Linking scheme is implemented.
1. Loss of flora(plants) and fauna(animal life).
2. Loss of Biodiversity
3. Loss of part of the sediments carried by rivers to delta.
4. Possible increase in salinity of irrigated land.
5. Possible water logging in certain areas.
For sure, these are impacts which can be expected. But the quantum of these impacts are not
anything which will adversely affect the nature in any significant manner that it will pose grave
environmental danger as perceived and threatened by a few NGOs. Let us understand these
aspects in detail.
1. Loss of flora and fauna : This happens when we build dams and the water gets filled up
submerging the land upstream of the dams. Most of the animal life will survive by
moving to upper reaches as the dams get filled up. Only the smaller insects and microbes
which can not move up will be lost. The entire flora present in the submerged area will be
The loss of these smaller insects, microbes and the flora anyway is not anything that
happens only due to the construction of dams. Since the dams are built mostly in the low
lying areas only, these areas are anyway subjected to flooding and inundation, now and
then leading to disturbances to flora and fauna. Only difference is that it will happen at
some higher elevations also when the dams are built.
The arguments of extinction of certain flora and fauna due to dams are not tenable. It is
not that those will exist only in the particular elevation and in that particular location.
Even if it is so, anyway those will be lost due to annual flooding in normal course even
without the dams.
As for the loss of certain flora and loss of important fauna like tigers, lions, etc, we can
very well compensate by creating additional forest area and creating alternate habitats.
The impact due to canals are of much lower proportions as the land area required does
not fall in sensitive areas like forests or hills.
Hence, we shall be aware that though there will be some impact on the flora and fauna
due to these projects, it is not as bad as we are made to believe with superlative
2. Loss of Biodiversity : It is expected to happen for two reasons. One is due to loss of
certain flora and fauna which are specific to the locations where the dams / canals are
built. The second is the loss of biodiversity associated with the change in cropping
pattern due to canal irrigation.
As explained above, the first one, loss due to dams / canals is not much, since anyway
those areas are subjected to submergence in certain periods of the year and the dams only
prolong that The second one, yes it will happen. The coarse cereals like millets, jowar,
etc will give way for the high productive rice / wheat crops. This is inevitable. But we
must understand that change of biodiversity is a dynamic one. Did we have all the crops
that we have today in India about 1000 years back ? In the same way we can not
guarantee that these crops / animals will continue to live after 1000 years. But we want to
ensure that the human beings survive. This is survival of the fittest. This is part and parcel
But, we must note one important aspect. The advocates of these dams and canals have
always been advocating population control also in India, so that the need for these dams
and canals are minimized. But, we can never find any of these NGOs and “experts” who
oppose the development activities advocating population control. On the other hand, they
will be making loose statements like even after 60 years of Independence we do not have
water, we do not have power, we do not have sufficient food, etc ! We must understand
the immaturity of these people and ignore them.
3. Loss of sediments carried by rivers to delta : Yes, there will be some settling of the
sediments in the dams. But, is it not a benefit ? If the rivers are allowed continue to carry
millions of tons of silt from the upstream areas and dump it in the delta year after year, is
it not posing a major environmental hazard ? If the silt continues to get deposited in the
delta region, will it not alter the ecology of the delta ? Will it not alter the course of the
rivers / canals in the delta ? In fact, it is one of the reasons for flooding of delta regions
leading to damages to crops and humans. What is important to note here is that, we ta lk
of human and crop loss only. What about loss of flora and fauna due to these floods
every year ?
The dams ameliorate the situation to some extent by allowing part of the silt to settle in
the dam which is closer to the place where it is generated compared to the delta.
Moreover, further erosion is substantially reduced due to the controlled flow taking place
from the dams. The rivers are made to flow within the already established flow paths,
well within their boundaries.
Hence, we must look at dams as a positive factor as for as silt is concerned.
4. Possible increase in salinity of irrigated land : Over a period of time, the salts carried by
the canals originating from the dams may create salinity in the irrigated land. This
depends upon the origin of the rivers and the soil property enroute.
One must understand that this will happen whether we use the water through canals
originating from the dams or we directly use the river water in delta regions ! In fact,
with dams we get partial settlement of silt thereby minimizing the salinity issue.
Moreover, we have simple agricultural technologies for controlling the salinity on a n
yearly basis with proper soil testing.
5. Possible water logging in certain areas : This is simply an exaggerated matter based on
situations prevailing in a very narrow region in Punjab. As can be seen from Figure-4, the
south western region of Punjab has water logging, ie water table is within 2 m ( 6.6 Feet).
The area is about 2 lakh hectares. The total cropped area of Punjab is 18 lakh hectares. It
works out to about 10%. Is it really a big issue ? Is it really a non-solvable problem ?
Please note, Punjab has one of the highest canal network(14500 km) with about 98% of
the cropped area under irrigation ! Can we ever dream of this situation for the rest of the
It has happened in Punjab because of the lack of awareness among the people and the
indifferent attitude of the officials concerned. If we regulate the canal water and ground
water pumping, this will automatically get solved and it is already being done. Citing
this as a reason for not creating additional irrigation facilities in rest of the places in India
is ridiculous !
Positive Environmental Impacts
With regard to the environmental impact, there is a complete misunderstanding among the
environmental activists. They perceive that any human activity can only lead to destruction of
environment. They don’t want to look at the positive impacts of various development activities
initiated by the planners. For example, if a Dam is built, they look at only the one time
submergence of few thousand acres and the associated environmental impacts. But, they fail to
appreciate the submergence of several thousand acres due to flooding that is taking place year
after year in the absence of these dams and associated canals.
PEAK FLOW REDUCTION BY DAMS
Figure-4 depicts how the dams minimize the peak flow in rivers thereby reducing the flooding. It
has been estimated that the peak flow will be reduced by about 30% in the Himalyan rivers. This
reduction in flooding brings substantial benefits in terms of environmental impacts apart from
the obvious benefits in terms of reduction in human losses, year after year. It is worth
highlighting here that, very often the people who oppose this project take the example of Ganga
which has peak flow of about 50,000 M3/ Sec across Farakka Barrage and a diversion of 1400
M3/Sec upstream of Farakka Barrage is planned. They argue that this minor diversion(2.8%) is
not going to benefit flooding in any significant manner. What they fail to understand are that 1)
The peak flow reduction is not by diversion and it is mainly by storage during the peak flow
periods 2) Ganga is not the only river which is flooding and there are many other flooding rivers
from where the diversion percentage are higher than this example, apart from the storage.
Also, it is interesting to note that, without understanding the inevitability of the release of excess
water once the dams get filled up, some of these NGOs blame the dams itself for the flooding !
Further, they are so much ignorant that they are not able to understand the fact that the peak flow
caused by the excess flow coming after the dam is filled is much lower and the flooding impact
will also be naturally much lower compared to that without the dam.
Some other “experts” associated with the NGOs calculate the total flow taking place in a
particular year and say that the dams save and Link canals divert only a small percentage of the
total flow and hence, their flood mitigation potential is nothing ! See the fallacy of their
argument ! The flooding is due to the peak flow taking place in short periods during the monsoon
time. The dams capture this peak flow and save the downstream areas from flooding. Even if we
buy their argument, it only reinforces the need for creating more capacity in the reservoirs !
Further, the environmental benefits that will accrue by way of Drought prevention by these
Dams and Inter Linking Canals are overlooked.
There is a misconception that we need lot of power to pump the water from Himalayas across the
Vindhyas. This is absolutely wrong. As can be seen from Table-2, power is required mainly for
two Links: Godavari(Inchampally) - Krishna and Ganga- Subarnarekha. In all other Links,
fortunately the terrain is such it flows by gravity and we have hydel power generation potential.
There is potential for 30,000 MW of installed capacity. There will be net electricity generation of
about 100 Bn Units after deducting the pumping requirement. Why we should worry about the
pumping power requirement in few locations as long as we get a net surplus ? What is more, this
hydel power is available during summer when we really need it more. There is another advantage
for hydel power. It can be started and stopped in short notice. Hence it can be used for meeting
the peak load demands. Hydel power is as renewable and clean as that of solar. In fact, these
power projects are much better in terms of availability, storage possibility, multiple usage of the
Need for Huge Water Storage Capacity
Due to the geography and topography of India, we get non uniform rainfall over space and time.
India receives an annual average rainfall of 1100 mm resulting in total precipitation of 4000 Billion Cubic
Meter (BCM). About 75% of this precipitation occurs within 4 months in just about 40% of the land area.
This uneven rainfall is further aggravated by the uneven spread in surface water availability due to the
topography. About 60% of the total surface water is available in Ganga and Brahmaputra Basins alone.
All the 400 BCM of surface water received across the International borders is also received in this region
only. Only the balance is available for the rest of the Country. This leaves most part of the Central,
Western and Southern Regions always under water scarcity with frequent droughts. The topography is
such, at times we have flooding in some districts even while the neigbhouring districts have Drought. The
loss of flora and fauna due to these droughts are as important as that lost during the flooding.
Obvious ly, this calls for the storage of the rain water, the nature’s gift, whenever and wherever it is
available in excess for using it whenever and wherever it is in shortage. The human civilizations have
been practicing this concept for thousands of years across the globe. It is not anything new that Indians
alone want to do it now.
Though we have an average precipitation of about 4000 Km3 ( 4000 BCM) per year, our storage capacity
is just 314 Km3, with 174 Km3 from large dams and the balance from other storages. This translates into
3300 m3 of rainfall and 262 m3 of storage on per capita basis. This storage is one of the lowest in the
world. Compare this 263 m3 per capita Indian storage with that of China at 2486 m3, North America at
6150 m3, Brazil at 3255 m3, South Africa at 746 m3 as of 2002.
The storage capacity of all our Dams put together is 174 Km3. Whereas, the storage capacity of just one
Dam across Zambezi river at Kariba in Zambia / Zimbabwe border is 180 Km3 ! Aswan dam in Egypt
has a capacity of 169 Km3. Three Gorges Dam in China has a capacity of 39 Km3. The Indira Sagar dam,
the largest dam in India, has a capacity of just 12.2 Km3. Sardar Sarovar Dam capacity is 5.8 Km3. The
capacity of Mettur dam is just 2.64 Km3. We can imagine what is the capacity of our other dams !
Due to this meager storage capacity in India, the peak flows that take place during the few weeks of
monsoon time in each year, results in flooding. This leads to discharge of huge quantities of water into the
sea through a few rivers like Brahmaputra, Ganga, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, some small rivers of
Some people come out with abstract statements like Watershed Management, Small check dams,
Barrages, Rainwater harvesting, etc whenever the river inter linking projects are discussed. Obviously,
they do not know that we are talking about Billions of cubic meters of water flowing in certain regions in
short periods, and these regions have such topographies that small check dams are not feasible and the
concepts like Watershed management, rainwater harvest, etc are totally irrelevant here. At the maximum
these can supplement the dam storages in a small way and these can never be alternatives for the 29 Inter
Basin transfer schemes.
Hence, we desperately need to build more dams and canals to store the rain water and use it effectively. It
is simple common sense that any resource that is available only during certain period of the year in certain
regions only, needs to be stored and used during the rest of the year in rest of the areas. This is part and
parcel of natural activity. Mother earth will not find fault with us for this, especially for a resource like
water, which is crucial for the existence of life on earth.
The total cost for all the 29 Links has been estimated at Rs.5,60,000 crores at 2002-03 prices. Of
course, now the cost is higher to the extent of inflation in the past 12 years. It works out to about
Rs.12,00,000 crores at current (2104) prices. This Rs.5,60,000 includes about Rs.1,50,000 Crores
for the associated power projects. This includes a contingency of Rs.1,05,000 crores. We must
keep in mind that this estimate has been made over a period of many years for different links and
these have been normalized with a year on year cost escalation factor of 10% upto 2002-03. This
escalation factor of 10% is very much on the higher side. With the result, this total cost of
Rs.5,60,000 crores is a highly pessimistic estimate and it will surely take care of unexpected cost
Many consider this as a single project involving an outlay of Rs.12,00,000 crores. They also
think that all the Links need to be executed simultaneously. This is one of the reasons for them to
oppose this scheme on the grounds: 1.Where do we go for such a big sum ?, 2. Whether it will
not cause ecological damage in a big way ? Actually, these are totally independent projects
spread across a vast area. It is not about diverting all the water from one river basin to another
river basin. We are only taking a part of the water going waste in one river basin for utilizing it
in between the two adjacent river basins, with only the surplus water being transferred to the next
basin. In most cases, the beneficiary basins fall within the same States. So, the fear of large scale
ecological damages are only perception based, and are not based on any scientific studies.
We can execute these projects in phases as and when we have funds. When we can get
Rs.2,50,000 crores for Under Ground Metros in 22 Cities, can we not get Rs.12,00,000 crores for
this National project ? When we are ready to spend Rs.1,50,000 crores for getting about 26
Billion units from 20,000 MW of Solar power, should we not spend the amount to get about 100
Billion units from the 30,000 MW of hydro power projects associated with these River Link
Objections by State Governments
As for the objection by some States, it is a well known fact that, the States which are having
surplus water do not want to admit it and they do not want to share it, even if it goes waste to the
Sea. Many people cite this as a reason for not executing the project. It is a childish argument.
This happens even within the States, within districts, within villages, within homes ! Can we
keep quite ? In fact, the Supreme Court has asked the Central Government to mainly deal with
For example, Andhra and Odhisa have not agreed to the data on water surpluses in Mahanadi and
Godavari. It does not mean that there is no surplus water in these rivers. We see it year after year
during the monsoon periods and we keep paying for flood reliefs to Odhisa and Andhra. Also,
just because these State Governments took negative stands on these projects in earlier years, it
does not mean that they will never see reason and accept the benefits that will accrue to their
own States, apart from the neigbhouring States. After all, wisdom has to prevail some day or the
Then, there are talks about Kerala’s objection to Pamba-Achankoil-Vaipar Links. Yes, it is true.
Kerala opposes anything and everything new inside Kerala. But they enjoy the water and
electricity being provided by the dams built by earlier governments. They do not permit coal /
nuclear power plants inside Kerala. But they enjoy the electricity supplied from these power
plants located in neighboring States ! How long this can go on ? Some day, the young minds of
Kerala will prevail over the old, and that day, those Links in Kerala will be feasible. But the
moot point here is that, should the rest of the country wait till those young minds to revolt and
bulldoze those old guards ? The Supreme Court and the Engineers like us, in their wisdom prefer
not to wait. It is upto the Nation to decide.
Should the Central government decide to take these projects forward in an easy route, it can
consider royalty payments for the water transferred, like for any other natural resource. As long
as we are convinced of the overall benefits for our people, we should not worry about who gains
more and who gains less. We can not also keep quiet based on past failures. If the people
concerned are not convinced by all scientific data, and do not want to abide by the give and take
policy, which is the corner stone of any democracy, then we shall not hesitate to enforce the law
of the land. If need be, we can bring in suitable Constitutional Amendments. That is what is the
crux of the Supreme Court judgment.
Beas- Sutlej Link, Kurnool-Cuddapah Canal, Rajasthan Canal which takes water from Sutlej &
Beas rivers, Periyar Project, Parambikulam-Aliyar project, etc with supporting dams and canals
are all examples of successful links. There are about 5200 large dams (with dam height above
15m) with associated canals irrigating about 108 Million hectares. Some of the dams are in
existence for more than 100 years. Without these dams and canals, India could not have fed the
120 crores people today. Without additional water we can not feed the additional 20 crores
people expected to add up in the next few decades. If we are to talk about “environmental
damages” of about 500 large dams proposed in the Inter Link canals, we need to dismantle these
5200 dams as well.
In Canada, about 285 BCM of water is transferred between river basins. In USA, about 45 BCM
is transferred already and there are projects under way which will transfer about 376 BCM.
China has a project for transferring 45 BCM through Eastern, Central and Western canals. The
Indian scheme is expected to transfer about 200 BCM of water.
These Inter link projects may look as stupendous tasks for old people who have no knowledge of
modern developments. Look at Three Gorges Dam built by Chinese. It was planned in 1919 and
was finally completed in 2008. It is an engineering marvel. Yes, it has displaced 1.3 million
people. Still they did it for the betterment of the masses. It is producing 22,000 MW of power
and it is providing additional irrigation for about 5,75,000 Hectares. Compare this project with
that of our River Inter Link projects which are expected to displace only about 1.4 Million
people, but irrigate about 3,00,00,000 Hectares !
Population the deciding factor
All Indians must understand a very important aspect with respect to population which is unique
to India. It is not just the second largest total population. It is more than that. India has the
combination of the following three important demographic factors :
1. Very high total population of 125 crores, next to China which has about 135 crores.
2. Very high population density of 382 per Sq KM compared to just 143 of China and 34 of
3. Near uniform spread across the country with just a few exceptional areas like Thar desert
and Chambal valley.
This demographic combination demands wide spread development keeping the people close to
wherever they are unlike other counties, which try to bring all the people to few cities thereby
providing common facilities at a cheaper price with better scale of operation. Since we have high
population density, we will get the scale of operation at the Town levels itself. Hence, we must
plan for our urbanization with a broader spread across several thousand towns and not within the
300 and odd cities.
This demands providing water throughout India as much spread out as possible. This is an
important and decisive reason for building more dams to store water and utilize it across the
country for the betterment of our teaming millions.
India is unique and it obviously demands unique solutions for our problems. We can not compare
with any nation for any issue and devise methodologies similar to theirs. If Europeans are not
building many dams, it is because they have enough food and they have declining population. Is
it the case with India ? We can not satisfy the transport needs with personal vehicles like two
wheelers and cars which many other countries do, which unfortunately India is also copying. We
need Buses and Trains in plenty. We do not want few bullet trains at exorbitant cost, but we need
all trains to run at atleast 160 KMPH. We can not rely on Solar power which is available only
during day time when we do not need it much. Whereas, solar power suits Germans because they
need more electricity exactly when sun shines more.
Hence, let us abhor ideas of experts and preachers from other countries who have knowledge and
data completely different from our ground realities. Their ideas and solutions in most cases will
be irrelevant for our needs. Let us take only capital from them and not ideas and policies.
The River Inter Link Projects are technically feasible, economically viable and environmentally
benign. There are only two impediments. One is the Political will of the Central Government
and the other is the Co-operation of State Governments.
Rive Inter Linking Projects could be misleading as a mirage for those who do not want to travel
that extra mile to see that it is in deed real water, and not a mirage. Old people might have
experienced that mirage in the past since this project is being talked about for so many years with
nothing tangible coming of. They do not realize the fact (or they do not have the stamina of mind
to travel that extra mile) that, with the new faces coming to the helm of affairs, we can see to that
it is really water, and not mirage ! The media must realize this and spread a positive message on
important national projects like this. They shall not sing the same old negative songs and mislead