In News: Centre puts Par-Tapi-Narmada River link project on hold amid protests by tribals, says Gujarat BJP chief CR Paatil
Par-Tapi-Narmada river-linking project had been sanctioned in 2010, when a tripartite agreement was signed between the Union Government, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
The Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the project was prepared by the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) in 2015.
Union Finance Minister in her budget speech (2022-23) said that five river linking projects will be taken up after consensus among states.
The projects are Damanganga-Pinjal, Par-Tapi-Narmada, Godavari-Krishna, Krishna-Pennar and Pennar-Cauvery.
About Par-Tapi-Narmada project
The Par Tapi Narmada link project was envisioned under the 1980 National Perspective Plan
Excess water in the interlinked Par, Tapi and Narmada rivers which flow into the sea in the monsoon would be diverted to deficit regions of Saurashtra and Kutch for irrigation
It proposes to link three rivers:
- Par, originating from Nashik in Maharashtra and flowing through Valsad (Gujarat),
- Tapi from Saputara that flows through Maharashtra and Surat in Gujarat, and
- Narmada originating in Madhya Pradesh and flowing through Maharashtra and Bharuch and Narmada districts in Gujarat.
It included building seven reservoirs in north Maharashtra and south Gujarat. While six reservoirs will be located in the Valsad and Dang districts of Gujarat, one will be located in Nasik district of Maharashtra three diversion weirs, two tunnels, 395 km long canal, 6 power houses.
Benefits of Par-Tapi-Narmada Link Project
- Irrigation:During the monsoon season, the excess water which flows into the sea would be diverted to Saurashtra and Kutch for irrigation.
- Presently, the Saurashtra region gets water from the Sardar Sarovar dam, which will be saved and used for other purposes.
- Prevents Flood: This will also help in containing regular flood-like situations in the rivers in Valsad, Navsari, Surat and Bharuch.
- Hydropower Generation: Besides providing irrigation benefits, the link will generate hydropower of the order of 93.00 Mkwh through the powerhouses installed at four dam sites.
Protests against the project
- Submergence:According to a report by the NWDA, about 6065 ha of the land area will be submerged due to the proposed reservoirs. This will affect a total of 61 villages of which one will be fully submerged and the remaining 60 partly.
- The affected families may lose their lands or houses or both in the submergence when the reservoirs are created.
- Fear of Tribal displacement: tribal leaders said that they are yet to be compensated for many projects like the Narmada Yojana, Statue of Unity, Ukai, etc.
Inter-Linking of Rivers Programme
The Interlinking of Rivers programme (ILR) programme, 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.
- The Ken-Betwa is the first project under the government’s National Perspective Plan for river inter-linking.
- The National River Linking Project (NRLP) formally known as the National Perspective Plan
- Reducing Regional Imbalance:India depends on monsoon rains that are erratic as well as regionally imbalanced. Interlinking of rivers will reduce the amount of surplus rain and river water which flows into the sea.
- Irrigation for Agriculture:Interlinking can provide a solution to the rain-fed irrigation problems of Indian agriculture through the transfer of surplus water to deficit regions.
- Reducing Water Distress: This can help in mitigating the effect of drought and floods to a certain extent.
- Other Benefits:Hydropower generation, Round the year navigation, Employment generation, Ecological benefits as dried up forests and lands will be replenished.
Environmental Costs: The project threatens to obstruct the natural ecology of rivers. Due to interlinking of rivers, there will be decrease in the amount of fresh water entering seas and this will cause a serious threat to the marine life.
It lead to destruction of forests, wetlands and local water bodies, which are major groundwater recharge mechanisms.
Economic Costs: Interlinking of rivers is a very expensive proposal. It is estimated that it can be a huge fiscal burden on the Government.
Socio-Economic Impact: It can causes massive displacement of people. A huge burden on the government to deal with the issue of rehabilitation of displaced people.
- India needs to conserve every drop of water, reduce wastage, equitable distribution of resources and at the same time enhance groundwater. So the small scale simple things have to be tried.
- Local solutions (like better irrigation practice) and watershed management, should be focused on.
- 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 unexploited.