New Delhi, Feb. 27: The Supreme Court of India has given clear direction to the Central Government on Monday to implement the ambitious interlinking of rivers project in a time-bound manner and appointed a high-powered committee for its planning and implementation.
A three judge bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia observed that the project has already been delayed resulting in an increase in its cost so it must be required that the Centre and the concerned state governments should participate for its "effective" implementation "in a time bound manner."
Chief Justice Kapadia emphasized that the interlinking of rivers project was in national interest.
The bench, also comprising justices Swatanter Kumar and A K Patnaik, appointed a high-powered committee comprising of representatives of various government departments, ministries, experts and social activists to chart out and execute the project.
The committee will comprise of Union Minister of Water Resources, its secretary, Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and four expert members appointed by Water Resources Ministry, Finance Ministry, Planning Commission and MoEF.
Representatives from state governments, two social activists and senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, who has been assisting the court in the case, will also be members of the committee.
The bench directed to the Union government to forthwith constitute a committee for interlinking of rivers. The bench added that “we direct the committee to implement the project."
The river interlinking project was the dream project of the NDA government and in October, 2002, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had formed a task force to get the project going against the backdrop of the acute drought that year.
The task force had also given a report in which they recommended division of the project into two parts— the Peninsular component and the Himalayan component.
Southern Water Grid The Peninsular component — involving the rivers in southern India — envisaged developing a ‘Southern Water Grid’ with 16 linkages. This component included diversion of the surplus waters of the Mahanadi and Godavari to the Pennar, Krishna, Vaigai and Cauvery.
he Himalayan component envisaged building storage reservoirs on the Ganga and the Brahmaputra and their main tributaries both in India and Nepal to conserve the waters during the monsoon for irrigation and generation of hydro-power, besides checking floods.
The task force had identified 14 links including Kosi-Ghagra, Kosi-Mech, Ghagra-Yamuna, Gandak-Ganga, Yamuna-Rajasthan, Rajasthan-Sabarmati, Sarda-Yamuna, Farakka-Sunderbans, Brahmaputra-Ganga, Subernarekha-Mahanadi, and Ganga-Damodar-Subernarekha.