Union minister Nitin Gadkari today urged states to cooperate with each other and also with the Centre to expedite projects for interlinking of rivers, according to an official statement. Addressing the 14th meeting of the Special Committee for Inter-linking of Rivers here, Gadkari stressed on the need to design better technical models that are aimed at bringing down construction cost while maintaining quality. Gadkari, who is the Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, also called on state governments to explore new financing models, including low-interest loans from foreign agencies. Seeking to underscore the importance of linking rivers, Gadkari said such efforts will bring a big social economic change and usher in prosperity in many regions that are poorly developed. “If we are able to save the enormous amounts of river water that gets lost to the seas as run-off, and are able to divert this to water deficit regions, we can solve the problem of water scarcity that exists in several states today,” Gadkari was quoted as saying in the statement.
During the meeting, it was informed that the clearances for Ken-Betwa Link Project have been given and an MoU is likely to be signed soon, the statement said. The minister said that while implementing the river interlinking projects, the rehabilitation of displaced persons must be fully ensured. Gadkari also said that he is “pained” to see a large number of displaced persons still awaiting rehabilitation at various project sites, where work has been completed long back.
In order to resolve issues related to various projects, Gadkari said that clusters of states will be formed and Minister of State for Water Resources Arjun Ram Meghwal “will soon” visit the states and hold meetings with governments there to deal with the problems. Referring to the funding of various interlinking of rivers projects, Gadkari said the time has come to look for innovative funding mechanisms for these projects.
He urged state governments to come forward with definite funding proposals which can be taken up with foreign funding agencies. Gadkari said his ministry will provide all help to the states for this. Meghwal, Uttar Pradesh’s irrigation minister Dharam Pal Singh, his Telangana counterpart T Harish Rao and senior officials from the Centre and state governments also attended the meeting.