India plans to link 37 rivers to avoid flood issues

2015-11-09 10:03
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New Delhi - The Indian government is pushing ahead with plans to link 37 of its rivers in a $168m engineering scheme it says will solve the perennial problem of floods in some areas and droughts in others.

The National Water Development Agency (NWDA) says the grid will increase agricultural productivity, industrial water supply and hydropower generation, as well as provide drinking water to parched areas.

First conceptualized in the 1970s but rejected due to environmental concerns, the project was resuscitated by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in 2002, and again when it came back to power under Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, as part of his ambitious development agenda.

The water grid will include more than 3 000 reservoirs and 30 canals stretching almost 15 000km across the country.

The government claims this will create an additional 35 million hectares of irrigated land by transferring 175 trillion litres of water per year to drought-prone areas.

The dams the government plans to build to divert water to other rivers have the potential to create 34GW of hydroelectric power.

Ecologists and environmentalists have voiced concerns about the social, ecological and economic impact of altering the country's river systems.

These include the disruption of estuarine ecosystems and the spread of waterborne diseases. One report claims that the whole project will displace more than half a million people.

Read more on:    india  |  environment

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