Work on the first phase of the ambitious river inter-linking project will start within the next three months, Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari announced here on Saturday.Gadkari said while discussions on river connectivity had been going on for several years, the government was now in a position to start work on the project."Under the river connectivity scheme, there are 30 projects costing a total of Rs eight lakh crore. Within three months, we are in a position to start work on the first three projects costing Rs one lakh crore," Gadkari said at the World Food India 2017 event here.He said the three river-connectivity projects included Pinjal-Damanganga and Tapi-Nira-Narmada between Gujarat and Maharashtra, and Ken-Betwa between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. "All three projects will be started within three months. All surplus water going into the sea will now be used" for irrigation and other purposes, he said.Gadkari, who took charge of the Water Resources Ministry in September, said water was a crucial problem in many states in India."We have now planned to use pipelines instead of canals and turn to drip irrigation. Through this, water utility will increase by three times and productivity by two-and-a-half times," he said.Gadkari, also the Road Transport and Highways Minister, added that through all these initiatives, agriculture growth rate would increase in the near future.