The Inter-linking of River (ILR) programme is very important for enhancing water and food security of the country and would be very helpful in providing water to water short, drought prone and rainfed farming areas. This was stated by Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti while chairing the Eighth meeting of the Special Committee for Inter-Linking of Rivers held in New Delhi today. She said the Government of India is committed for implementation of ILR programme with consensus and cooperation of the concerned State Governments.
Referring to her meeting with the Chief Minister of Odisha Shri Naveen Patnaik held in Bhubaneswar on 3rd of this month regarding Mahanadi-Godavari link project, the Minister said that it was decided that a team of officers from the centre and state Government will discuss all the issues about this link and will submit its report within six months. Sushri Bharti said, “After this report its submitted, I will have another meeting with the CM of Odisha to finalise Mahanadi-Godavari link project and I am very hopeful for a positive response from Government of Odisha in this regard”. Giving an update about Ken-Betwa link project, the Minister informed that various clearances in respect of Ken-Betwa link project Phase-I are in the advanced stage of processing. She said, “I am happy to inform that the link project has been recommended by the State Wild Life Board of Madhya Pradesh in its meeting held on September 22, 2015 for forwarding the proposal to National Board of Wild Life of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change for according the Wild Life Clearance to the project. Sushri Bharti said that she has spoken to the Union Environment Minister in this regard and is very hopeful of getting the necessary clearance very soon.
Referring to the status of Par-Tapi-Narmada link project the Minister informed the meeting that DPR of this project has been submitted to the Government of Gujarat and Maharashtra in August, 2015 and their comments/views are awaited. She said the issue of water sharing between Gujarat and Maharashtra in respect of Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada link projects is being taken up on priority. Both the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Gujarat have expressed their desire to resolve all issues relating to water sharing under the proposed link project for taking up their implementation. The Minister said, in this connection it has been decided that an officer level meeting will be held with the officers of both the States and the Union Water Resources Ministry to sort out pending issues. Sushri Bharti said, “After this, I will hold a meeting with the Chief Minister of both the States on the issue.
I hope we would be able to reach an agreement on water sharing in the two projects with the cooperation of both the States at an early date”. The Minister said the Task Force for ILR constituted by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is examining all relevant issues in details and will help in bringing speedy consensus amongst the States on the link project. It met last on November 05, 2015. The three sub-committees of the Special committee are also holding meetings regularly and carrying out the tasks assigned to them consistently. The cooperation and assistance of all members especially the concerned State Governments is very essential for the successful implementation of ILR programme. The inter-linking of rivers is not a mere dream project of the Government but is coming to reality, the Minister added.
Representatives of some states raised the issue of redefining the term “surplus water”. Responding to this Sushri Bharti said that a sub committee under the task force constituted by National Water Development Agency is seized of the issue and will submit its report within two months. The Minister said this is a very important issue which requires large national consensus. The meeting was attended by Water Resources Ministers from Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Rajasthan and senior officials from other states. Interlinking of River (ILR) programme is of national importance and has been taken up by the Government on high Priority. The purpose of this programme is to ensure greater equity in the distribution of water by enhancing the availability of water in drought prone and rainfed area through interlinking of rivers. The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has already identified 14 links under Himalayan Rivers component and 16 links under Peninsular Rivers component for inter basin transfer of water based on field surveys and investigation and detailed studies.
Union Cabinet in its meeting held on July 24, 2014 approved the constitution of the Special Committee on ILR. Accordingly, Special Committee on ILR was constituted vide order dated September 23, 2014. The first meeting of the committee was held on October 17, 2014. The committee, after considering the views of all the stakeholders, is proceeding ahead to expedite the objectives of the interlinking of rivers as per terms of reference. Vigorous efforts have been made for generating consensus with development of alternative plans and also setting out road maps for implementation of projects.