Opinion

This $87 Billion scheme of Modi Government may stop Flood and Drought in India!!

India is an agriculture based economy which is totally dependent of Rainwater for ages, if there is a drought anywhere then it becomes counterproductive for the Economy. At the same time India also mired with the problem of floods every year, especially the Eastern part of India faces flood every year. Obviously it also have negative impact over Economy, Lives and so many other indicators.

This is certainly a bone of contention for previous governments however no one did something substantial on this front. After years of foot-dragging and dilly delaying India will begin work in around a month on an $87 billion scheme to connect some of the country’s biggest rivers, government sources, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi bets on the ambitious project to end deadly floods and droughts.

This mammoth plan entails linking nearly 60 rivers across the Nation. Government hopes it will cut farmers’ dependence on unreliable monsoon rains by bringing millions of hectares of cultivatable land under irrigation network. At the same time the another objective of this plan is to divert the excessive Water to canals that could reach neighboring areas where Water is required, in other words, this will control the Flood situation as well.

These projects would also generate thousands of Megawatts of electricity, and that’s the reason why PM Modi has himself pushed through clearances for the first phase of the. As expected this plan is also attracting objections from opposition from environmentalists, tiger lovers and a former royal family members for their own vested interests.

What is the Riven Interlinking Plan of Modi Government?

This initiative will involve construction of a dam on the Ken River, also known as the Karnavati, in north-central India and a 22-km (14-mile) canal connecting it to the shallow Betwa.

Both rivers flow through vast swathes of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states. PM hopes the Ken-Betwa scheme will set a template for other proposed river interlinking projects.

Government has understood the importance of this project and that’s why this project has got clearances in record time, the last round of clearances coming in only this year. The Ken-Betwa interlinking tops the priority list of the government.

Modi Government thinks that diverting water from massive rivers like Ganges, Godavari and Mahanadi to scarce waterways by building a clasp of dams and a network of canals is the only solution to floods and droughts.However some experts say India would be bettser off investing in water conservation and better farm practices. Environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts have also warned of ecological damage.

The 425-km Ken flows through a tiger reserve nestled in a verdant valley. The government plans to clear out 6.5 percent of the forest reserve to build the dam, it will also have to relocate nearly 2,000 families from 10 remote villages.Government has already obtained around half a dozen clearances, including on environmental and forest protection.

It is also certain that PM Modi is likely to give its final go-ahead for the project within a couple of weeks, he is also planned to  flag off the construction at the site, which is currently marked only by rows of red concrete slabs placed on the ground.

Next target of Modi Government will be the river linking in Wester India, Par-Tapi with the Narmada and the Daman Ganga with the Pinjal. This project is already at advanced stage and the documentation and clearance part is about to be finished. The projects involve Modi’s home state of Gujarat and neighboring Maharashtra.

The river-linking projects was first proposed in 2002 by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA government. However there was no further progress due to issues between several state governments over water sharing contracts and clearances got stuck in India’s notoriously bureaucracy.

This time, officials hope starting with projects that are all in BJP-ruled states will smooth negotiations.Modi’s government is flaunting the project of linking of rivers as a remedyof the floods and droughts that plague India every year, killing hundreds of poor people and withering crops and public property of several hundred of crores got impacted as well.

Huge areas of eastern and north-eastern India are currently reeling under floods in which hundreds have lost their lives, while heavy rain also brought the commercial capital Mumbai to a standstill this week and several people died there as well. On the other hand Tamil Nadu, in contrast, recently rationed drinking water due to drought situation.

Ashok Gulati, a farm economist said that “Theoretically we can’t find fault with the plan of Modi Government however spending billions of dollars in a country which wastes more water than it produces, it makes more sense if we put more focus on water conservation.”

As a fact, India which is the home of 18 percent of the world’s population but possesses only 4 percent of the usable water resources, irrationally gives inducements to produce and export craving crops such as rice and sugar cane.


Manish Sharma

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