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Water and Politics : Narmada Kshipra River Link in Madhya Pradesh

Water has been at the centre stage at the politics for long but it has acquired new meaning after the happenings in Delhi in January and with the forthcoming General Elections. On February 25th senior leader of Bhartiya Janta Party, Shri L K Advani inaugurated the much hyped Narmada Kshipra River Link. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Cief Minister of the State had inspected the project and said that he was proud to have fulfilled former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ambitious river-linking scheme and in a record time of 14 months.

He also announced that “Gambhir, Parvati and Kalisindh” rivers will also be linked with the river Narmada. A detailed project report was being readied, he said and added, linking of rivers was aimed add another area of 1.6 million hectare under irrigation and also providing drinking water to over 3,000 villages.

However, there are many things which he didn’t reveal about the project. He didn’t reveal that 25% of the water to carried was to be diverted for the Peethampur Industrial Area part of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor. He didn’t reveal that there has been no Environment Impact Assessment of the project done and that they have not taken permission from the appropriate authorities before diverting the Omkareshwar reservoir water. There are many issues including the diversion of funds meant for constructing canals and complete violation of existing norms and procedures to construct 47 km long pipeline, lifting the water upto 350 meters and then call it river linking. This is a farce ?

This is part of the larger river linking project but then it is only meant to serve political purposes than rejuvenate Kshipra river as is being claimed. Business Standard reported a a senior political commentator observations that “the party did not performed well in last 2009 general elections in Malwa belt particularly in Ujjain, Neemuch, Mandsaur, Ujjain and Dewas. The project would not only put the party on an advantage but also the party would be able to muster support on religious sentiments since Simhastha is nearing.” This in itself explains the motives of the government.

More details on the different aspects of the this project has been explained by SANDRP here.

Our earlier blog on India’s inter linking of rivers is here.