News Excerpt    
The Central government is deliberating to establish an exclusive body, called the National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA), to implement projects for inter-linking of rivers.

●    National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA) is expected to take up both inter-State and intra-State projects.
●    It will also make arrangements for generating up funds, internally and externally.
●    Once approved, the projects will be pursued as national projects. The Centre will absorb 90% of the cost and the States concerned will bear the rest.

National River Linking Project
→    It 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 will comprise 30 links to connect 37 rivers across the nation through a network of nearly 3000 storage dams to form a gigantic South Asian Water Grid. It has two components.
→    Himalayan Rivers Development Componentaims to construct storage reservoirs on the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers, as well as their tributaries in India and Nepal. The aim is to conserve monsoon flows for irrigation and hydropower generation, along with flood control. The linkage will transfer surplus flows of the Kosi, Gandak and Ghagra to the west. A link between the Ganga and Yamuna is also proposed to transfer the surplus water to drought-prone areas of Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
→    Peninsular Rivers Development Component proposes to connect the rivers of South India. It envisages linking the Mahanadi and Godavari to feed the Krishna, Pennar, Cauvery, and Vaigai rivers. This linkage will require several large dams and major canals to be constructed. Besides this, the Ken river will also be linked to the Betwa, Parbati, Kalisindh, and Chambal rivers.

Proposed Benefits
⮚    Irrigation benefits in water deficit western and peninsular areas
⮚    Will address drinking problem
⮚    Mitigation of floods by transferring excess water to drought prone areas.
⮚    Hydropower generation
⮚    Groundwater recharge

Potential harmful impacts
⮚    Large number of people will be displaced.
⮚    Ecological issues: There would be a decrease in downstream flows resulting in reduction of freshwater inflows into the seas seriously jeopardizing aquatic life.
⮚    River flow carries silt which is deposited along the way, enhancing the productivity of the surrounding lands, and finally of the coastal waters. Disruption of ecological flow will also lead to trapping of silt in reservoirs and a dip in the sediment deposited by rivers.
⮚    Future change of course of rivers will create practical problems for the project.
⮚    Deforestation: Large areas need to be deforested to make canals. A large area of Panna National Park is to be cleared for the Ken-Betwa interlinking project.

A mega project of this scale must be undertaken after proper cost benefit analysis. Government should also consider alternatives such as decentralized watershed development, rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge, reviving the existing local systems of water harvesting and irrigation to address the problem of drought.

Ken Betwa Interlinking Project
    It was the country's first planned river interlinking project.
    Both the rivers originate in MP and are the tributaries of Yamuna.
    Ken River passes through Panna tiger reserve.
    Project aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken river in MP to Betwa in UP to irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region
    The project has been delayed due to political and environmental issues

Pattiseema lift irrigation project, Himalayan and Peninsular rivers