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Not a novel idea

Floods and drought. Differents parts of India are regularly affected by both - and often at the same time. An attractive idea has always been the transferring of water from 'surplus' basins to 'deficit' ones. Here we look at the various plans that have been proposed in the past, as well as the current one.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2003 15:20 IST

A view of the Rajasthan Canal, a precusor of the current river linking plans

As the idea of harnessing river water has existed for some time, various plans were drawn up at different points of time. Here we the plans that were actually fleshed out in considerable detail, including the present one, for which the plans are underway.

Ganga-Kaveri link

Dr KL Rao, former Union minister and an expert on water had proposed that water from the Ganga be transferred southwards right up to the Kaveri, thus linking the two rivers. Three possible alignments were advocated along with some other links.

The 2640 km long Ganga-Cauvery link was envisaged for the withdrawal of 60000 cusecs of the flood flows of the Ganga near Patna for about 150 days in a year and pumping about 50,000 cusecs of this water over a distance of 549 metres for transfer to the peninsular region and utilising the remaining 10,000 cusecs in the Ganga basin itself.

Dr. Rao had also proposed a few additional links:
Brahmaputra-Ganga link to transfer 1800 to 3000 cumec with a lift of 12 to 15 metres.
Transferring 300 cumec of Mahanadi's water southwards
Canal from Narmada to Gujarat and Western Rajasthan with a lift of 275 metres
Links from rivers of the Western Ghats towards east.

The plan was not followed up due to various reasons, not the least of which would the immense expenditure involved. Nor was there enough surplus water in the Ganga. The immense amount of electricity required to lift water wherever required would also incur an additional burden on the resources. The environmental burden, though not calculated, was also estimated to be huge.

Garland Canal Plan
The Garland Canal plan was proposed by Captain Dastur in 1974. It was to consist of two parts - a Himalayan Canal and a Central and Southern Canal.

The first was a 4200 kilometre long, 300 metre wide Himalayan Canal at a constant bed level between 335 metres and 457 metre above mean sea level. It was propose to align it along the southern slopes of the Himalayas from the Ravi in the west to the Brahmaputra in the east. It was to be fed by river water stored in 50 integrated lakes to be created by cutting the hill slopes of the Himalayas to the same level as the bed of the canal,

The second canal proposed was a 9300 kilometre, 300 metre wide Central and Southern Garland Canal at a constant height of between 244 metres and 305 metres above the mean sea level. There were to be 200 lakes.

These canals were proposed to be interconnected at Delhi and Patna.

The proposals, examined a wide array of experts, was rejected due to major question marks over feasibility and extremely high costs, estimated to be about 12 million crore rupees at the time, though Dastur estimated the cost to be about 24,095 crore rupees.

First Published: Jun 28, 2003 15:20 IST