River Interlinking

River Interlinking

In news: Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IRWD Act

Mains level : Interstate river water disputes

Karnataka CM has said irrigation projects are bogged down by river water sharing disputes and asked the Centre to ‘revisit the Inter-State River Water Disputes (IWRD) Act since the law is creating more disputes than resolving them’.

About IWRD Act

  • The IWRD Act, 1956 aims to resolve the water disputes that would arise in the use, control and distribution of an interstate river or river valley.
  • Article 262 of the Indian Constitution provides a role for the Central government in adjudicating conflicts surrounding inter-state rivers that arise among the state/regional governments.
  • This act is confined to states of India and not applicable to union territories.
  • Only concerned state governments are entitled to participate in the tribunal adjudication and non-government entities are not permitted.

Jurisdictions over Rivers

  • River waters use / harnessing is included in states jurisdiction.
  • However, Union government can make laws on regulation and development of inter-State rivers and river valleys to the extent such water resources are directly under its control when expedient in the public interest.
  • When union government wants to take over a interstate river project under its control by law, it has to take approval of the riparian states’ legislature assemblies before passing such bill in the Parliament per Article 252 of the constitution.
  • When public interest is served, President may also establish an interstate council as per Article 263 to inquire and recommend on the dispute that has arisen between the states of India.

Resolution of disputes

  • Dispute resolution is a layered process, as mandated by the ISWD Act.
  • After receiving a complaint from a state, the Union government first tries to mediate. It is only when negotiations fail that the Centre is required to form a tribunal to adjudicate the dispute.
  • If a State Government makes a request regarding any water dispute and the Central Government is of opinion that the water dispute cannot be settled by negotiations, then a Tribunal is constituted.

Constitution of Tribunal

  • Whenever the riparian states are not able to reach amicable agreements on their own in sharing of an interstate river waters, section 4 of IRWD Act provides for a Tribunal.
  • The tribunal shall not only adjudicate but also investigate the matters referred to it by the central government and forward a report setting out the facts with its decisions.
  • The tribunal responsibility is not limited to adjudication of issues raised by the concerned states and but investigation of other aspects such as water pollution, water quality deterioration, flood control etc.

Time-frame for dispute resolution

  • The tribunals have been allotted three years to arrive at a final decision, extendable by two years.
  • The 2002 Amendment to the ISWD Act specified a one-year limit on the timeline allowed to carry out the process of dispute resolution.

Active tribunals in India

  • Ravi & Beas Water Tribunal (1986) – Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan
  • Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II (2004) – Karnataka, Telangana, Andra Pradesh, Maharashtra
  • Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal (2010) – Goa,Karnataka, Maharashtra
  • Vansadhara Water Disputes Tribunal (2010) – Andra Pradesh & Odisha
  • Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal (2018) – Odisha & Chattisgarh

Need for the IWRD Act

  • Major inter-state river basins: India has 25 major river basins, with most rivers flowing across states.
  • Equitable distribution of water: As river basins are shared resources, a coordinated approach between the states is necessary for the preservation, equitable distribution and sustainable utilization of river water.
  • Hydro-politics: Much recently, interstate rivers in India have become sites of contestations, fuelled by conflicting perceptions of property rights, flawed economic instruments for food security.
  • Sustainability: This has led to a lack of an integrated ecosystems approach, and the prevalence of reductionist hydrology for water resource development.

Issues with IRWD Act

  • Centre’s dilemma: Since river water falls within the ambit of State Subjects, its governance remains confined to the limits of the state political discourse.
  • Interference of Judiciary: The apex court has limited the role of the tribunals to quantification and allocation of water between riparian states, and its own role is to be an interpreter of the awards and agreements.
  • Colonial award: The history of colonial rule has led to the creation of asymmetries between states, and the present water disputes stem from the reproduction of this imperial and colonial power relation.
  • Structural issues: Various operational characteristics of the tribunals as problematic, since they do not adhere to any established system.
  • Operational issues: For instance, the sittings are not routine, the functioning is outside the regular court system, and day-to-day or week-to-week hearings are few and far in between.

Why this has become a sensitive topic?

  • Associated ethnicity: At the state level, river water is politically perceived as part of the larger issue of “regional sharing of resources,” which is linked with the ethnic and cultural identity of the state and its people.
  • Matter of autonomy: The political narrative around river disputes is subsumed within the question of regional rights, and any possibility of water sharing is seen as a compromise or infringement on the regional autonomy of a state.
  • Identity politics: Hence, the political narrative around the river disputes jumps to a larger scale of identity politics.

Way forward

  • For such dispute resolution, all other recourses such as mediation and conciliation must remain viable options.
  • These should operate simultaneously along with adjudication and political consensus among the riparian states.
  • Directly approaching the Supreme Court may result in adversarial outcomes, with the conflict reaching a point of no return.

 

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River Interlinking

[pib] Saryu Nahar National Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sarayu River

Mains level : River interlinking and associated issues

 

PM will inaugurate the Saryu Nahar National Project.

Saryu Nahar National Project

  • The Project involves the interlinking of five rivers – Ghaghara, Saryu, Rapti, Banganga and Rohini to ensure optimum usage of water resources of the region.
  • It will benefit nine districts of Eastern Uttar Pradesh namely – Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur, Gonda, Siddharthnagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Gorakhpur and Maharajganj.
  • The sub canals with a length of 6,600km have been linked to the 318km main canal.
  • The work on the project started in 1978 but due to lack of continuity, it got delayed and was not completed even after nearly four decades.

Benefits offered

  • The project will provide assured water for irrigation of over 14 lakh hectares of land and benefit about 29 lakh farmers of over 6200 villages.
  • The farmers of the region, who were the worst sufferers of the inordinate delay in the project, will now immensely benefit from the upgraded irrigation potential.
  • They will now be able to grow crops on a larger scale and maximize the agri-potential of the region.

Back2Basics: Sarayu River

  • The Sarayu is a river that originates at a ridge south of Nanda Kot mountain in Bageshwar district in Uttarakhand.
  • It flows through Kapkot, Bageshwar, and Seraghat towns before discharging into the Sharda River at Pancheshwar at the India—Nepal border.
  • Lower Ghaghara is also popularly known as Sarayu in India.
  • Especially while it flows through the city of Ayodhya, the birthplace of legendary Rama.

 

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River Interlinking

Cabinet nods for Ken-Betwa Interlinking Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ken-Betwa Interlinking Project

Mains level : River interlinking and associated issues

The Union Cabinet has approved the funding and implementation of the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project at the 2020-21 price level.

Ken-Betwa Interlinking Project

  • The Ken-Betwa Link Project is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for the interlinking of rivers.
  • Under this project, water from the Ken River will be transferred to the Betwa River. Both these rivers are tributaries of the river Yamuna.
  • The project is being managed by India’s National Water Development Agency (NWDA), under the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • Implementation of the project
  1. Phase-I: Daudhan dam complex and its appurtenances like Low Level Tunnel, High Level Tunnel, Ken-Betwa link canal and Power houses
  2. Phase-II: Lower Orr dam, Bina complex project and Kotha Barrage

Utility of the Project

  • Irrigation: The project is slated to irrigate 10.62 lakh hectares annually, provide drinking water supply to 62 lakh people and generate 103 MW of hydropower and 27 MW of solar power.
  • Water supply: The project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved Bundelkhand region, spread across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Agricultural boost: The project is expected to boost socio-economic prosperity in the backward Bundelkhand region on account of increased agricultural activities and employment generation.
  • Addressing Rural Distress: It would also help in arresting distress migration from this region.

Many hurdles

  • Submergence of critical wildlife habitat: The project will partly submerge the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and affect the habitat of vultures and jackals.
  • Clearance: After years of protests, it was finally cleared by the apex wildlife regulator, the National Board for Wildlife, in 2016.
  • Water sharing disputes: Then UP and MP could not agree on how water would be shared, particularly in the non-monsoonal months.

Back2Basics: River Interlinking in India

History

  • The idea of interlinking of rivers in the Indian subcontinent is atleast 150 years old.
  • During the British Raj in India, Sir Arthur Cotton, a British general and irrigation engineer, first suggested linking the Ganga and the Cauvery for navigational purposes.
  • K.L. Rao’s Proposal (1972), which had 2640 km long Ganga – Cauvery link as its main component involved large scale pumping over a head of 550 m.
  • The Central Water Commission, which examined the proposal, found it to be grossly under estimated and economically prohibitive.

Capt. Dastur Proposal (1977)

It envisaged the construction of two canals:

  1. 4200 km Himalayan Canal at the foot of Himalayan slopes running from the Ravi in the West to the Brahmaputra and beyond in the east
  2. 9300 km Garland Canal covering the central and southern parts

Beginning of implementation

  • The Indian Rivers Inter-link aims to link India’s rivers by a network of reservoirs and canals and so reduce persistent floods in some parts and water shortages in other parts of India.
  • The idea to link rivers got a shot in the arm with the establishment of the National Water Development Agency in 1982 by then PM Indira Gandhi.
  • The Inter-link project was split into three parts:
  1. Northern Himalayan rivers inter-link component
  2. Southern Peninsular component
  3. Intrastate rivers linking component

Objectives of inter-linking

  • Connect the Himalayan and peninsular rivers via a network of canals so that
  • Excess water from one channel can be diverted to another which has an inadequate flow
  • Flood moderation in the Ganga-Brahmaputra system
  • Hydropower generation through excess water

Prospects of River inter-linking

  • Engineering challenges: This is one of the most daring feats of engineering attempted in the history of mankind.
  • Ecosystem challenges: It is a reimagining of the entire aquatic ecosystem of a country as large and diverse as India.

Advantages offered by river inter-linking

  • Flood control and mitigation: Problems related to flood control, irrigation, limiting droughts and boosting farm output—can be sorted out by linking the country’s rivers.
  • Economic boost: Potential benefits to transport infrastructure through navigation, as well as to broadening income sources in rural areas through fish farming.

Issues with such projects

  • Migration: It will lead to massive displacement of people
  • Topography change: Since the Ganga basin topography is flat, building dams would not substantially add to river flows.
  • Inundation: The transfer of such enormous amounts of water will inundate forests and land for reservoirs.
  • Seismic hazards: The weight of billions of liters of water can have seismic implications in the Himalayan region.
  • Financial expense: River inter-linking is an expensive business from building the link canals to the monitoring and maintenance infrastructure.
  • Political will: Implementation of the project not only needs a huge financial capital but also political support both is scarce commodities as of now.
  • Consensus building for land acquisition: Another important issue is building consensus among states and Land acquisition.
  • Ecological feasibility: Once the project is implemented it would lead to large-scale displacement of people and animals.

Criticisms of such projects

  • Bad Science: Such projects are built on bad science and an outdated understanding of water systems and water management.
  • Human determinism: Such projects go in contravention with natural process thereby generating more scope for threat than any opportunity.

 

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River Interlinking

Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ken-Betwa Linking Project

Mains level : River interlinking

In the presence of PM and Jal Shakti Minister, the CMs of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have signed an agreement to implement the Ken Betwa Link Project (KBLP).

Must read:

Interlinking of rivers: Significance & Challenges

What is the Ken Betwa Link Project?

  • The Ken-Betwa Link Project is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for the interlinking of rivers.
  • Under this project, water from the Ken River will be transferred to the Betwa river. Both these rivers are tributaries of the river Yamuna.
  • The project is expected to provide annual irrigation of 10.62 lakh hectares, drinking water supply to about 62 lakh people and also generate 103 MW of hydropower.

The Project has two phases:

  • Under Phase-I, one of the components — Daudhan dam complex and its appurtenances like Low Level Tunnel, High Level Tunnel, Ken-Betwa link canal and Power houses — will be completed.
  • While in the Phase-II, three components — Lower Orr dam, Bina complex project and Kotha barrage — will be constructed.

Regions benefitting from KBLP

  • The project lies in Bundelkhand, a drought-prone region, which spreads across 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • It will be of immense benefit to the water-starved region of Bundelkhand, especially in the districts of Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri and Raisen of Madhya Pradesh and Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur of Uttar Pradesh.
  • It will pave the way for more interlinking of river projects to ensure that scarcity of water does not become an inhibitor to development in the country.

What about the Panna tiger reserve?

  • Out of the 6,017 ha of forest area coming under submergence of Daudhan dam of Ken Betwa Link Project, 4,206 ha of the area lies within the core tiger habitat of Panna Tiger Reserve.

Previous examples of river-linking

  • In the past, several river linking projects have been taken up. For instance, under the Periyar Project, the transfer of water from the Periyar basin to the Vaigai basin was envisaged.
  • It was commissioned in 1895.
  • Similarly, other projects such as Parambikulam Aliyar, Kurnool Cudappah Canal, Telugu Ganga Project, and Ravi-Beas-Sutlej were undertaken.

Recent developments on the interlinking of rivers in India

  • In the 1970s, the idea of transferring surplus water from a river to a water-deficit area was mooted by the then Union Irrigation Minister Dr K L Rao.
  • Rao, who himself was an engineer, suggested the construction of a National Water Grid for transferring water from water-rich areas to water-deficit areas.
  • Similarly, Captain Dinshaw J Dastur proposed the Garland Canal to redistribute water from one area to another.
  • However, the government did not pursue these two ideas further.

The National Perspective Plan

  • It was in August, 1980 that the Ministry of Irrigation prepared a National Perspective Plan (NNP) for water resources development envisaging inter-basin water transfer in the country.
  • The NPP comprised two components: (i) Himalayan Rivers Development; and (ii) Peninsular Rivers Development.
  • Based on the NPP, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) identified 30 river links—16 under the Peninsular component and 14 under the Himalayan Component.
  • Later, the river linking idea was revived under the then Vajpayee Government.

Ken Betwa Link Project is one of the 16 river linking projects under the Peninsular component.

Clearances required for a river-linking project

  • Generally, 4-5 types of clearances are required for the interlinking of river projects.
  • These are Techno-economic (given by the Central Water Commission); Forest Clearance and Environmental clearance (Ministry of Environment & Forests); Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) Plan of Tribal Population (Ministry of Tribal Affairs) and Wildlife clearance (Central Empowered Committee).

River Interlinking

Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rivers mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Not Much

 

Environmental organisations from across central and Eastern Europe have criticised a major project intending to link three rivers and provide seamless navigation between three of Europe’s peripheral seas, according to a statement.

Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal

  • For centuries Europe’s rulers have dreamed of construction of a huge Y-shaped canal connecting the Elbe, Oder and Danube rivers, most of which would be on Czech territory.
  • The Canal intends to connect the Danube, Oder and Elbe rivers and thus provide another navigable link from the Black Sea to the North and Baltic Seas.
  • The Main-Danube Canal already provided a navigable connection between the Black Sea and the North Sea.
  • Several hundred kilometres of artificial waterways would have to be built for the canal, according to the statement.
  • Critics have called on the European Commission to ensure that the project be excluded from EU funding, and not be included as part of the Trans-European Transport Network.

River Interlinking

National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA)

Mains level : Interlinking of rivers

 

 

The Central government is working on the establishment of an exclusive body to implement projects for linking rivers.

National Interlinking of Rivers Authority

  • To be called the NIRA, the proposed body is expected to take up both inter-State and intra-State projects.
  • It will also make arrangements for generating up funds, internally and externally.
  • Headed by Union Minister of Jal Shakti, the panel includes Irrigation or Water Resources Ministers and Secretaries of States.
  • It is being assisted by a Task Force for ILR, which is a committee of experts essentially drawn from the Jal Shakti Ministry, Central Water Commission and the NWDA.

About National River Linking Project (NRLP)

  • The NRLP formally known as the National Perspective Plan, envisages the transfer of water from water ‘surplus’ basins where there is flooding to water ‘deficit’ basins where there is drought/scarcity, through inter-basin water transfer projects.
  • It is designed to ease water shortages in western and southern India while mitigating the impacts of recurrent floods in the eastern parts of the Ganga basin.
  • Interlinking of rivers was conceived more than 125 years ago by Sir Arthur Cotton, mainly to facilitate trade but it was not implemented then.
  • The proposed NRLP, now comprises 29 canals totalling 9,600 km, will involve the movement of 245 trillion litres of water.
  • If and when implemented, it will be one of the biggest inter-basin water transfer projects in the world.

ILR Projects in India

  • As of now, six ILR projects — the Ken-Betwa, Damanganga- Pinjal, Par-Tapi-Narmada, Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga, Mahanadi-Godavari and Godavari-Cauvery (Grand Anicut) — have been under examination of the authorities.
  • The Ken-Betwa ILR is India’s first such project.
  • With regard to the peninsular rivers, the Centre has chosen to focus on the Godavari-Cauvery link than the earlier proposal to link the Mahanadi-Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery rivers.

Issues and Concerns

Ecological issues

One of the major concerns is that rivers change their course in 70–100 years and thus once they are linked, future change of course could create huge practical problems for the project.

Aqua life

A number of leading environmentalists are of the opinion that the project could be an ecological disaster. There would be a decrease in downstream flows resulting in reduction of fresh water inflows into the seas seriously jeopardizing aquatic life.

Deforestation

Creation of canals would need large areas of land resulting in large scale deforestation in certain areas.

Areas getting submerged

Possibility of new dams comes with the threat of large otherwise habitable or reserved land getting submerged under water or surface water. Fertile deltas will be under threat, with coastal erosion expected to threaten the land and livelihoods of local economies that support 160 million people.

Displacement of people

As large strips of land might have to be converted to canals, a considerable population living in these areas must need to be rehabilitated to new areas.

Dirtying of clean water

As the rivers interlink, rivers with dirty water will get connected to rivers with clean water, hence dirtying the clean water.

Disrupting of ecological flow

On implementation, water discharge in 23 out of 29 rivers will reduce considerably, they say. The Ganga will see a 24% decrease in flow. Its tributaries Gandak (-68%) and Ghaghara (-55%) will be the worst affected. While the Brahmaputra will see only a 6% loss, its tributaries will see massive flow reductions: Manas (-73%), Sankosh (-72%) and Raidhak (-53%). Changes in water flow and trapping of silt in reservoirs will see a dip in the sediment deposited by rivers.


Must read:

https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/national-river-linking-project-dream-or-disaster

River Interlinking

[pib] Godavari and Cauvery River Linking Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Godavari– Cauvery Link Project

Mains level : Interlinking of rivers

 

The draft Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Godavari and Cauvery River Linking Project has been completed by National Water Development Agency (NWDA).

Godavari– Cauvery Link Project

  • The project consists of 3 links viz., Godavari (Inchampalli/Janampet) – Krishna (Nagarjunasagar), Krishna (Nagarjunasagar) – Pennar (Somasila) and Pennar (Somasila) – Cauvery (Grand Anicut).
  • This proposal to link Godavari, which is prone to flooding, and Krishna, which doesn’t have enough water, has been around for several decades.
  • While river-interlinking for the purposes of navigation as an idea was mooted by the British in India, in 1972, engineer and Union Minister KL Rao proposed the linking of Godavari and Krishna for irrigation.
  • The decades-old proposal finally took shape in the 2000s, and in 2016, the Andhra government linked the two rivers with the Pattiseema-Polavaram Lift Irrigation project, in Andhra’s West Godavari district.

River Interlinking

Govt. plans Godavari-Cauvery interlinking

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Godavari-Cauvery interlinking project

Mains level: Enhancing cargo transport with the help of Inland Waterways


News

  • Union Ministry for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources has revealed Detailed Project Report (DPR) to take the backwaters of the Godavari up to the Cauvery river in Tamil Nadu.

Godavari-Cauvery Interlinking

  1. The DPR for the river inter-linking project has already been prepared and is in the process of being submitted to the Cabinet. It is estimated to cost ₹60,000 crore.
  2. 1,100 tmcft of the backwater of the Godavari river was going into the sea and there was a dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over 45 tmcft of it.
  3. To solve the crisis, the Centre has decided to link up the above rivers.
  4. Once the Cabinet gives its nod, funds will be raised from the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank.
  5. It will mitigate the scarcity of water in A.P., Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
  6. It was former PM Vajpayee who conceived the idea of linking rivers from Ganga to Cauvery.

Benefits of the Project

  1. The backwaters will be carried through Krishna and Penna using steel pipes instead of developing canals en route as suggested by a non-resident engineer from Andhra Pradesh.
  2. By doing so, wastage of water from canals could be prevented and overall cost reduced.
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