Strategic Analysis of India’s
National River-Linking Project
Contours of NRLP…
Building 30 links, 3000 small and large
reservoirs, 12500 km of canals to link 36
Himalayan and Peninsular rivers to effect 178
km3 of inter-basin water transport.
35 MHa of new irrigated area; 35 GW of
hydro-capacity; navigation and flood control
Gestation Period: Proposed=2016; Most
Cost = Rs 560,000 cr. at 2002 prices (US $
120 Billion); 1 - 1.5% of India’s GDP for the
next 3 decades.
Largest infrastructure project anywhere, ever. Five times the size of the
……Three Gorges Project.
Why do we need a Research Project…
Hardened positions with little analysis
Critics complaint that government has not done good
analysis of alternatives
Government says that considering the magnitude of the
crisis, NRLP is the only option
Key Missing Issues:
What is the magnitude of crisis itself?
How was interlinking chosen as the best available option
What is the scope of the alternatives?
How do we ensure that there will be implementation
efficiency - time and cost overruns - and O&M would be
done better than before?
What would it takes to implement alternative solutions on
Promote a balanced,
discourse on India's
Water Future 2050,
and approaches to
shaping it, including
through the River-
Asia’s quest for
food livelihoods and
Capitalize on the
by the NRLP
Build scenarios of what India will be like—its
economy, society, demographics, habitat, and
environment – in 2025 and 2050, and with what
implications for its water future?
Analyze whether NRLP is an adequate, cost
effective and sustainable response—in socio-
ecological as well as political terms--towards
meeting the water challenge.
Sew together a clutch of institutional and policy
interventions into a National Water Sector
Perspective Plan (NWSPP) as a fallback strategy.
Identify best practices to implement the NRLP as
well as the NWSPP
Concluding Workshop VI: Planning for a Food, Livelihoods and Water Secure India 2050
11 Studies, Synthesis &
National Workshop I
A Sharp, Well-Rounded Prognosis of
India’s Water Future - 2025/2050 &
of the Water Challenge Facing the
Phase II A Phase II B
Phase III A Phase III B
Phase II A Phase II B
complete and cost-
effective a response
is the River-Linking
Project to India’s
How to maximize
net social benefit of
Phase III A
If NRLP fails to
take off, how else
can India effectively
meet its Water
Phase III A
How best to put into
Phase-wise Activities and
The 3 years ahead…
A Sharp, Well-Rounded Prognosis of India’s Water Future -
2025/2050 & of the Water Challenge Facing the Nation
 How adequate, complete and cost-effective a response is the
River-Linking Project to India’s Water Challenge 2050?
 How to maximize net social benefit of NRLP?
 If the NRLP fails to take off, how else can India effectively
meet its Water Challenge 2050?
 How best to put into operation the NWSPP?
Impart substance and quality to the national
discourse on NRLP;
Help India think through its long term water
challenge and evolve a fall-back strategy to meet it;
Rally a broad alliance of Indian researchers and
institutions to participate in a distributed research
and dissemination program;
Allocate over 70% of the resources requested to
NARES institutions; and
Leverage substantial ‘knowledge equity’ and funds
IWMI contributes as matching resources.