Interlinking of Rivers: Advantages, Disadvantages and Way Forward

Interlinking of Rivers: Floods and Droughts are two major disasters of India. Due to Global Warming, the frequency of floods and drought has enhanced. Taking all these into consideration, the Government of India started the river interlinking project for various rivers. It is a Civil Engineering project which aims to join Indian rivers by several canals.

The concept of this project was given by Dr. KL Rao in the 1950s. In 2002 Supreme Court asked the Government to take steps for the fulfillment of this project. The target is to join 60 rivers of India along with river Ganga.

Case Study:

This project basically consists of three components. The river Ganga component is projected to lift water through pumping near Patna and supplied to the watershed area between Narmada and Son rivers through Canal. From here it would be supplied to seasonal rivers of Southern India. Second is the river Brahmaputra Component. From Dhubri near Assam, water is diverted towards Ganga near Frraka Barrage in West Bengal. The last component is the National Water Grid System. It has a historical background because it is proposed before independence by Sir Authur Cotton. In these 28 rivers are supposed to be joined by 30 canals that are a huge task. The work is going on. And several linking has been done.


The major benefit is taken by farmers because they will not depend on monsoon for agricultural processes. The problems of floods and droughts would be tackled nationwide. The water of the river which causes flood can be transferred to the area where there is a problem of drought at the same time. For example, the Ken Betwa link has been constructed that would help in supplying water to certain drought-prone areas. Social problems like deforestation, low water availability and no irrigation facilities are taken seriously through the interlinking of rivers. The poor section would be given drinkable water with greater equity. Many poor farmers will be able to use their lands if they are not using due to irrigation crisis.


Such vast projects never come without impediments. If the natural flow of rivers faces any kind of human intervention then it is always destructive. The construction of canals, reservoirs, dams to complete the project is very deteriorating for nearby vegetation and natural habitat. The problem of human displacement is another concern with no rehabilitation scope til now. The estimated cost is approximately 15 Lakh crore that is a huge investment. Risk factor is very high both economically and socially. State water disputes will lead to social unrest. According to scientists, it will disrupt monsoon cycle. There are various factors leading to delay in the project and neighboring countries’ intervention is possible.


For the betterment of human lives, every possible step by the government is appreciated. But the development process always causes threats to the environment. The government should always take into account the adverse consequences that are attached to such projects. Suggestions for researches and scientists are mandatory. Undoubtedly, if it would be a success it will change the phase of India’s continuous floods and droughts. People could also contribute to their support without compromising their livelihoods.


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