With water constituting two third of the Earth it becomes the most important resource for mankind. Keeping this in mind the government has fast-tracked the project of interlinking 30 rivers, in an attempt to eradicate the deepening water crisis threatening the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of people across the country.
In the first phase of its initiative, under the supervision of the Union water resource minister, Nitin Gadkari, development projects worth 45000 crores to interlink four rivers has been lined up. The development work will cover two phases of Ken-Betwa, Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada projects, the official said, adding that clearance has already been received for linking Ken-Betwa and work on it will commence soon.
The Ken-Betwa project envisages fulfilling the water needs of the Bundelkhand region, which straddles both Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The National Water Development Agency (NWDA) had identified 30 links (16 in the peninsular areas and 14 rivers in the Himalayan regions) for preparation of feasibility reports.
The projects will transfer 174 billion cubic meters of water through about 14900-km network of canals, aiming to ease the water crisis in western and southern India while lessening the impact of recurrent floods in eastern India. Though the pre-feasibility report for all thirty links has already been circulated amongst the concerned state government officials, the deadline for the projects is yet to be decided.
Gadkari, while addressing a conference on ‘Water for Sustainable Development-2018-2028’ in Tajikistan, said the Indian government is committed to implementing the inter-basin transfer of water project. He said other than these interlinking projects, the government will spend about Rs 30,000 crore on water conservation across the country in around 100,000 villages. He further specified that “The Indian government plans to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.”
The government is all set for a holistic and overall transformation of water bodies through its proposed projects. Understanding the importance of safe and clean water, the government had in May 2015 approved Rs 20,000 crore under its ambitious ‘Namami Gange’ – integrated Ganga conservation mission – programme for five years (up to December 2020). Nitin Gadkari had claimed that the result of Ganga cleaning works would be visible on the ground by March next year as the river (water quality) would be 70 to 80% cleaner (from 2014-15 level) by that time.
The minister’s claim on results was substantiated by the water resources secretary U P Singh who asserted that water quality of the river has improved in terms of three key parameters – Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Dissolved Oxygen (DO) and Coliforms – which indicate the health of any river.
“Water quality (monitored at 80 locations) showed improvement in 2017 as compared to 2016. The DO levels have improved at 33 locations and BOD levels at 26 locations while Coliform bacteria count is reduced at 30 locations”, said Singh while referring to the water quality monitoring data of the CPCB for the 2015-17 period.
Though the mammoth task of cleaning the river Ganga is a dauntless challenge and many experts are skeptical, saying that “It is silly and unscientific to even think of reviving a river only through actions aimed at ‘Nirmalta’ (clean water), the Union water resource minister, Nitin Gadkari seems to be confident of delivering what he has committed.