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| Last Updated:14/11/2018

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Centre appoints task-force to help build consensus on river inter-linking

NEW DELHI: The Centre has set up a task force to look into various contentious issues relating to inter-linking of rivers. Role of this panel of experts will be to forge a consensus among states that are not on the same page over the plan to link rivers across the country.

The move comes in the backdrop of recent controversy over sharing of water between Maharashtra and Gujarat through two inter-linking of river (ILR) projects and emerging differences among other states over the plan.

The task force, headed by B N Navalawala (ex-UPSC member and one of the advisers to the Gujarat chief minister), will work towards speedy implementation of the inter-linking of river projects.

"Apart from examining the existing links (30 ILRs) that are laid out as per the National Perspective Plan under both Himalayan and Peninsular components, the task force will also consider alternative plans in place of infeasible links in the present plan", said an official statement of the ministry of water resources.

The statement clearly indicates that the Centre would be ready to consider alternatives so that the states agree for transferring water from surplus zones to deficit zones. Environmentalists have also been opposed to the idea of ILR, arguing that the move will be a disaster for ecology.

The task force, comprising water experts and senior officials of different ministries, will facilitate interlinking of intra-state and intra-basin rivers. It will recommend the "time schedules" for completion of feasibility studies and detailed project reports (DPRs) of all the links and their "implementation schedule".

Various means of funding mechanisms for the inter-linking of rivers will also be examined by the panel comprising of Sriram Vedire, adviser in the ministry of water resources; Prodipto Ghosh, former environment secretary; A D Mohile, former chairman of the Central Water Commission (CWC); M Gopalakrishnan, former member of the CWC and advocate Virag Gupta.

"The task force will also provide guidance on norms of appraisal of individual projects in respect of economic viability, socio-economic, environmental impacts and preparation of resettlement plans", said the statement.



As far as actual implementation of the ILR projects is concerned, only three out of 30 such projects have, so far, got the Centre's nod. The states opposed to the ILRs are mainly Odisha, Kerala, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and couple of those in the northeast. Except Punjab, the states which are opposed to the ILRs are all ruled by non-NDA parties.ILR projects is concerned, only three out of 30 such projects have, so far, got the Centre's nod. The states opposed to the ILRs are mainly Odisha, Kerala, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and couple of those in the northeast. Except Punjab, the states which are opposed to the ILRs are all ruled by non-NDA parties.

Sharing of water had, however, recently become controversial between two BJP-ruled states as well when Gujarat last week demanded that Maharashtra agree to share more water from the Tapi River if it wants more from the proposed Damanganga-Pinjal link which will supply water to Mumbai.

Gujarat's demand came after the Maharashtra assembly had to be adjourned after the Opposition there disrupted proceedings over the agreement of water sharing under the Damanganga-Pinjal and the Par-Tapi-Narmada link projects.