The Inter-link project has been split into three parts: a northern Himalayan rivers inter-link component, a southern Peninsular component and starting 2005, an intrastate rivers linking component. The project is being managed by India's National Water Development Agency (NWDA), under its Ministry of Water Resources. NWDA has studied and prepared reports on 14 inter-link projects for Himalayan component, 16 inter-link projects for Peninsular component and 37 intrastate river linking projects.
The average rainfall in India is about 4,000 billion cubic meters, but most of India's rainfall comes over a 4-month period – June through September. Furthermore, the rain across the very large nation is not uniform, the east and north gets most of the rain, while the west and south get less. India also sees years of excess monsoons and floods, followed by below average or late monsoons with droughts. This geographical and time variance in availability of natural water versus the year round demand for irrigation, drinking and industrial water creates a demand-supply gap, that has been worsening with India's rising population.
Proponents of the rivers inter-linking projects claim the answers to India's water problem is to conserve the abundant monsoon water bounty, store it in reservoirs, and deliver this water – using rivers inter-linking project – to areas and over times when water becomes scarce. Beyond water security, the project is also seen to offer potential benefits to transport infrastructure through navigation, as well as to broadening income sources in rural areas through fish farming. Opponents are concerned about knowledge gap on environmental, ecological, social displacement impacts as well as unseen and unknown risks associated with tinkering with nature. Others are concerned that some projects create international impact and the rights of nations such as Bangladesh must be respected and negotiated.
Drought, floods and shortage of drinking water
India receives about 4,000 cubic kilometers of rain annually, or about 1 million gallons of fresh water per person every year. However, the precipitation pattern in India varies dramatically across distance and over calendar months. Much of the precipitation in India, about 85%, is received during summer months through monsoons in the Himalayan catchments of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) basin. The northeastern region of the country receives heavy precipitation, in comparison with the northwestern, western and southern parts. The uncertainty of start date of monsoons, sometimes marked by prolonged dry spells and fluctuations in seasonal and annual rainfall is a serious problem for the country. The nation sees cycles of drought years and flood years, with large parts of west and south experiencing more deficits and large variations, resulting in immense hardship particularly the poorest farmers and rural populations. Lack of irrigation water regionally leads to crop failures and farmer suicides. Despite abundant rains during July–September, some regions in other seasons see shortages of drinking water. Some years, the problem temporarily becomes too much rainfall, and weeks of havoc from floods. This excess-scarcity regional disparity and flood-drought cycles have created the need for water resources management. Rivers inter-linking is one proposal to address that need.
Population and food security
Population increase in India is the other driver of need for river inter-linking. India's population growth rate has been falling, but still continues to increase by about 10 to 15 million people every year. The resulting demand for food must be satisfied with higher yields and better crop security, both of which require adequate irrigation of about 140 million hectares of land. Currently, just a fraction of that land is irrigated, and most irrigation relies on monsoon. River inter-linking is claimed to be a possible means of assured and better irrigation for more farmers, and thus better food security for a growing population. In a tropical country like India with high evapotranspiration, food security can be achieved with water security which in turn is achieved with energy security to pump water to uplands from water surplus lower elevation river points up to sea level.
Salt export needs
When sufficient salt export is not taking place from a river basin to the sea in an attempt to harness the river water fully, it leads to river basin closer and the available water in downstream area of the river basin becomes saline and/ or alkaline water. Land irrigated with saline or alkaline water becomes gradually in to saline or alkali soils. The water percolation in alkali soils is very poor leading to waterlogging problems. Proliferation of alkali soils would compel the farmers to cultivate rice or grasses only as the soil productivity is poor with other crops and tree plantations. Cotton is the preferred crop in saline soils compared to many other crops. Interlinking water surplus rivers with water deficit rivers is needed for the long term sustainable productivity of the river basins and for mitigating the anthropogenic influences on the rivers by allowing adequate salt export to the sea in the form of environmental flows.
India needs infrastructure for logistics and movement of freight. Using connected rivers as navigation is a cleaner, low carbon footprint form of transport infrastructure, particularly for ores and food grains.
Current reserves and loss in groundwater level
India's worsening water problem – satellite evidence of critical groundwater levels. The blue and purple regions have greatest levels of groundwater depletion. Courtesy – Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, United States (2010).
India currently stores only 30 days of rainfall, while developed nations strategically store 900 days worth of water demand in arid areas river basins and reservoirs. India’s dam reservoirs store only 200 cubic meters per person. India also relies excessively on groundwater, which accounts for over 50 percent of irrigated area with 20 million tube wells installed. About 15 percent of India’s food is being produced using rapidly depleting groundwater. The end of the era of massive expansion in groundwater use is going to demand greater reliance on surface water supply systems. Proponents of the project suggest India's water situation is already critical, and it needs sustainable development and management of surface water and groundwater usage.
By 2015, fourteen inter-links under consideration for Himalayan component are as follows, with feasibility study status identified:
- Ghaghara–Yamuna link (Feasibility study complete)
- Sarda–Yamuna link (Feasibility study complete)
- Yamuna–Rajasthan link
- Rajasthan–Sabarmati link
- Kosi–Ghaghara link
- Kosi–Mechi link
- Manas–Sankosh–Tista–Ganga link
- Jogighopa–Tista–Farakka link
- Ganga–Damodar–Subernarekha link
- Subernarekha–Mahanadi link
- Farakka–Sunderbans link
- Gandak–Ganga link
- Chunar–Sone Barrage link
- Sone dam–Southern tributaries of Ganga link
This Scheme is divided in four major parts.
- Interlinking of Mahanadi-Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery,
- Interlinking of West Flowing Rivers, North of Bombay and South of Tapi,
- Inter-linking of Ken with Chambal and
- Diversion of some water from West Flowing Rivers
This component will irrigate an additional 25 million hectares by surface waters, 10 million hectares by increased use of ground waters and generate hydro power, apart from benefits of improved flood control and regional navigation.
The main part of the project would send water from the eastern part of India to the south and west. The southern development project (Phase I) would consist of four main parts. First, the Mahanadi, Godavari. Krishna and Kaveri rivers would all be inter-linked by canals. Reservoirs and dams would be built along the course of these rivers. These would be used to transfer surplus water from the Mahanadi and Godavari rivers to the south of India. Under Phase II, some rivers that flow west to the north of Mumbai and the south of Tapi would be inter-linked. The water would supply additional drinking water needs of Mumbai and provide irrigation in the coastal areas of Maharashtra. In Phase 3, the Ken and Chambal rivers would be inter-linked to serve regional water needs of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Over Phase 4, a number of west-flowing rivers in the Western Ghats, would be inter-linked for irrigation purposes to east flowing rivers such as Cauvery and Krishna.
The 800-km long Mahanadi-Godavari interlinking project would link River Sankosh originating from Bhutan to the Godavari in Andhra Pradesh through rivers like Teesta-Mahananda-Subarnarekha and Mahanadi.
The inter-links under consideration for Peninsular component are as follows, with respective status of feasibility studies:
- Almatti–Pennar Link (Feasibility study complete)(Part 1)
- Bedti–Varada Link (Part 4)
- Damanganga–Pinjal Link (Feasibility study complete) (Part 2)
- Inchampalli–Nagarjunasagar Link (Halted construction by Telangana) (Part 1)
- Inchampalli–Pulichintala Link (Feasibility study complete) (Part 1)
- Kattalai–Vaigai–Gundar Link (Feasibility study complete) (Part 4)
- Ken–Betwa Link (Feasibility study complete) (Part 3)
- Mahanadi–Godavari Link (Feasibility study complete) (Part 1)
- Nagarjunasagar–Somasila Link (construction to be started soon) (Part 1)
- Netravati–Hemavati Link (Part 4)
- Pamba–Anchankovil–Vaippar Link (Feasibility study complete) (Part 4)
- Par–Tapi–Narmada Link (Feasibility study complete) (Part 2)
- Parbati–Kalisindh–Chambal Link (Feasibility study complete) (Part 3)
- Polavaram–Vijayawada Link (link canal constructed and partly in use with Pattiseema lift) (Part 1)
- Somasila–Grand Anicut Link (Feasibility study complete) (Part 1)
- Srisailam–Pennar Link (link canals constructed and in use) (Part 1)
Intra-state inter-linking of rivers
India approved and commissioned NDWA in June 2005 to identify and complete feasibility studies of intra-State projects that would inter-link rivers within that state. The Governments of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Kerala, Punjab, Delhi, Sikkim, Haryana, Union Territories of Puducherry, Andaman & Nicobar islands, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep responded that they have no intrastate river connecting proposals. Govt. of Puducherry proposed Pennaiyar – Sankarabarani link (even though it is not an intrastate project). The States Government of Bihar proposed 6 inter-linking projects, Maharashtra 20 projects, Gujarat 1 project, Orissa 3 projects, Rajasthan 2 projects, Jharkhand 3 projects and Tamil Nadu proposed 1 inter-linking proposal between rivers inside their respective territories. Since 2005, NDWA completed feasibility studies on the projects, found 1 project infeasible, 20 projects as feasible, 1 project was withdrawn by Government of Maharashtra, and others are still under s
Kumaraswami Kamaraj (b. 15 July 1903 – d. 2 October 1975), was a leader of the Indian National Congress (INC), widely acknowledged as the "kingmaker" in Indian politics during the 1960s. He served as INC president for four years between 1964-1967 and was responsible for the elevation of Lal Bahadur Shastri to the position of Prime Minister of India after Indira Gandhi turned down the same at the time of Jawaharlal Nehru's death. Kamaraj was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu during 1954–1963 and a Member of Parliament during 1952–1954 and 1967–1975. He was known for his simplicity and integrity.
He was involved in the Indian independence movement. As the president of the INC, he was instrumental in navigating the party after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru. In Tamil Nadu, his home state, he is still remembered for bringing school education to millions of the rural poor by introducing free education and the free Midday Meal Scheme during his tenure as chief minister. He was awarded with India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1976.
Kamaraj was born on 15 July 1903 to Kumarasamy Nadar and Sivakami at Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu. His name was originally Kamatchi, but later changed to Kamarajar. His father Kumarasamy was a merchant. In 1907, four years after the birth of Kamaraj, his sister Nagammal was born. At age 5 (1907), Kamaraj was admitted to a traditional school and in 1908 he was admitted to Yenadhi Narayana Vidhya Salai. In 1909 Kamaraj was admitted in Virudupatti High School. Kamaraj's father died when he was six years old and his mother was forced to support her family. In 1914 Kamaraj dropped out of school to support his family.
Kamaraj remained Chief Minister for three consecutive terms, winning elections in 1957 and 1962. Kamaraj noticed that the Congress party was slowly losing its vigour.
On Gandhi Jayanti day, 2 October 1963, he resigned from the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Post. He proposed that all senior Congress leaders should resign from their posts and devote all their energy to the re-vitalization of the Congress.
In 1963 he suggested to Nehru that senior Congress leaders should leave ministerial posts to take up organisational work. This suggestion came to be known as the Kamaraj Plan, which was designed primarily to dispel from the minds of Congressmen the lure of power, creating in its place a dedicated attachment to the objectives and policies of the organisation. Six Union Ministers and six Chief Ministers including Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jagjivan Ram, Morarji Desai, Biju Patnaik and S.K. Patil followed suit and resigned from their posts. Impressed by Kamaraj's achievements and acumen, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru felt that his services were needed more at the national level. In a swift move he brought Kamaraj to Delhi as the President of the Indian National Congress. Nehru realized that in addition to wide learning and vision, Kamaraj possessed enormous common sense and pragmatism. Kamaraj was elected President, Indian National Congress, on 9 October 1963
Kamaraj was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1976. He is widely acknowledged as "Kalvi Thanthai" (Father of Education) in Tamil Nadu. The domestic terminal of the Chennai airport is named "Kamaraj Terminal". Chennai's beach road is named "Kamarajar Salai", Bangalore's North Parade Road and Parliament road in New Delhi as "K. Kamaraj Road" and the Madurai Kamaraj University in his honour