Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti today made a strong pitch for focusing on inter-linking of rivers (ILR) to tackle drought as she referred to water crisis in Maharashtra’s Latur.
Bharti, who chaired ninth meeting of special committee for inter-linking of rivers here, also sought to dispel “misconceptions” that ILR will affect flow of sweet water of rivers and said the programme intends only at transferring extra water flooding rivers to ones having less water.
According to a Ministry statement, Bharti also requested Maharashtra and Gujarat governments to give requisite clearances for Daman Ganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada projects “at the earliest” so that works on the same can be undertaken soon and the states are benefited.
The Minister said officials of Gujarat and Maharashtra will sit together with their counterparts in the Union Ministry to sort out all pending issues in connection with the projects.
This meeting will be followed by her discussions with Chief Ministers of the two states to finalise approvals for the programme.
Bharti will visit tribal areas to remove “misconceptions” about this link among tribals, the statement adds.
Meanwhile, sources in the Union Ministry blamed “some government” officials for “unnecessary” delay in implementation of Ken-Betwa project, first such effort aimed at linking rivers in the country.
The project was expected to take off in January this year but has been delayed for want of nod from National Wildlife Board after some “members” raised environmental concerns in February.
Following their objections, a six-member committee, comprising officials, was formed in February to inspect ground-level situation in the regions of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh where the rivers Ken and Betwa flow.
“The committee could have visited the areas within a week after it was formed and compiled its report. However, it inspected the situation only between April 8 and April 10. It is yet to submit its report even as more than two months have passed after the panel was formed.
“We are hopeful it will be a positive report but it is the unnecessary delay in project implementation which is a concern,” the source rued.