12 AUG,2019 | MEDC
With floods ravaging large parts of India and drought looming large over much of the other, the prospect of interlinking of rivers looks increasingly attractive. However, it is fraught with many pitfalls. To begin with, the cost factor is prohibitive. Attempting to connect 44 rivers via 9,600 km of canal will cost an estimated Rs. 11 trillion, assuming no implementation delays. A 2018 study of 29 of these 44 rivers found that interlinking them would submerge 3,400 sq. km of land, and displace around 7 lakh people. Waterways will be exposed to new contaminants and invasive species, thus leading to further stress on our already fragile environment. After all, rivers are living ecosystems which have evolved over centuries, and not physical infrastructure like roads and electricity lines, which can be twisted and turned based on vested interests. The long-term solution is to regenerate river basin ecosystems, use water judiciously, and ensure that the local cropping pattern is consistent with the region’s available water supply.
*Photo Credit: Google