Protests against Par Tapi Narmada Link

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Protests against Par Tapi Narmada Link

  • The rally was by tribals held in Vaghai taluka of Dang district in protest against the Centre’s Tapi-Par-Narmada link project fearing displacement from their homes and farmlands.
  • The public meeting was organised at Birsa Munda ground in Vaghai taluka of Dang district by tribal organisations like Adivasi Samanvay Manch, Adivasi Ekta Parishad and Samast Adivasi Samaj, among others.

Par Tapi Narmada Link

  • It proposes to provide water to drought-prone regions of Kutch and Saurashtra by diverting excess water from seven reservoirs in the Western Ghats in North Maharashtra and south Gujarat.
  • The water is proposed to be taken from seven reservoirs through a 395-kilometre canal.
  • Of the seven reservoirs, only one is located in Maharashtra and the rest are in the Valsad and Dang districts of Gujarat.

National River Linking Project (NRLP)

  • NRLP, formerly known as the National Perspective Plan, proposes to connect 14 Himalayan and 16 peninsular rivers with 30 canals and 3,000 reservoirs to form a gigantic South Asian Water Grid.
  • The initial plan to interlink India’s rivers came in 1858 from a British irrigation engineer, Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton.
  • 2 components:
  • Himalayan component: This component aims to construct storage reservoirs on the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers, as well as their tributaries in India and Nepal. It will connect,
  • Ganga and Brahmaputra basins to the Mahanadi basin, and
  • Eastern tributaries of the Ganga with the Sabarmati and Chambal river systems.
  • Peninsular component: It includes 16 links that propose to connect the rivers of South India. It envisages linking,
  • Mahanadi and Godavari to feed the Krishna, Pennar, Cauvery, and Vaigai rivers,
  • Ken river to the Betwa, Parbati, Kalisindh, and Chambal rivers,
  • West-flowing rivers to the south of Tapi to the north of Bombay,
  • Linking some west-flowing rivers to east-flowing rivers.
  • The NRLP is managed by National Water Development Agency (NWDA) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • NWDA was set up in 1982, to conduct surveys and see how feasible proposals for interlinking river projects are.

Need for Such Projects:

  • Reducing Regional Imbalance: Interlinking of rivers will divert the amount of surplus rain and river water to water deficit areas.
  • Irrigation for Agriculture: It can prove to be a one-stop solution to the rain-fed irrigation problems of Indian agriculture.
  • Reducing Water Distress: This can help in mitigating the effect of drought and floods to a certain extent.
  • Hydropower generation, Round the year navigation, Employment generation, Ecological benefits as dried up forests and lands will be replenished.

Associated Challenges:

  • Environmental Costs: It obstructs the natural ecology of rivers.
  • It could harm forests of the Himalayas and impact the functioning of monsoon.
  • Climate Change: May drastically impact the regular and normal functioning of rivers and the entire objective may become irrelevant.
  • Economic Costs: It is estimated that river interlinking will be a huge fiscal burden on the Government.

Way forward

  • Integrated water resource management is the key for India.
  • Curbing demand by efficient utilisation of existing water resources should be prioritised before making big-ticket investments in river interlinking under NRLP.
  • India should also push for the concept of virtual water.
  • For example: Suppose when a country imports one tonne of wheat instead of producing it domestically, it is saving about 1,300 cubic meters of the local water. The local water can be saved and used for other purposes.
  • The govt can also consider the National Waterways Project (NWP) instead of the NRLP.
  • Under NWP, water from a flooded river will flow to the other.
  • It acts like a water grid, similar to a power grid.
  • It just needs 1/3rd the land required for interlinking of rivers, is open to navigation throughout the year and involves zero pumping.
  • Furthermore, it can irrigate almost double the land and has a 76% more power generation capacity (60 GW) compared to the interlinking of rivers project.