Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Daily Mains Question 05th June-2021

The National Interlinking of Rivers project seeks to transfer water from surplus areas to deficit areas in the country. Elaborate the prospects in interlinking rivers. Also examine the environment and ecological concerns with this interlinking.

National Interlinking of Rivers project ensures greater equity in the distribution of water by enhancing the availability of water in drought-prone and rain fed areas.

Prospects in interlinking rivers

  • The interlinking of rivers will provide drinking water to large areas in the country suffering from drought conditions every year and also add to the domestic supplies
  • Groundwater irrigation can be improved in a water scarcity
  • Utilization of water surface resources can be increased
  • With the execution of this project, electricity problems can be reduced as hydro-electric power plants can be started, thus, strengthening the national grid.
  • It will integrate the nation as one and would add waterline defence to the nation, through inland navigation thereby, enhancing security.
  • Droughts and floods can be mitigate to some extent

Environment and Ecological concerns

  • The interlinking will decrease downstream flows resulting in reduction of freshwater inflows into the seas seriously jeopardizing aquatic life.
  • Large areas are needed to create canals resulting in deforestation of forests and a considerable population living in these areas must need to be rehabilitated to new areas.
  • Fertile deltas will be under threat, with coastal erosion expected to threaten the land and livelihoods of local economies.
  • Possibility of new dams comes with the threat of large otherwise habitable or reserved land getting submerged under water or surface water.
  • Interlinking of river water may result in polluting clean water by linking with polluted water.
  • Changes in water flow and trapping of silt in reservoirs will see a dip in the sediment deposited by rivers.

The necessity and feasibility of river-interlinking should be seen on a case to case basis, with adequate emphasis on easing out federal issues. The government should alternatively consider the National Waterways Project (NWP) which “eliminates” friction between states over the sharing of river waters since it uses only the excess flood water that goes into the sea unutilized.

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