All states need to cooperate to interlink rivers across the country: Jal Shakti minister
Making a stronger push for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s key project to interlink rivers, Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Tuesday called for cooperation among states to arrive at a consensus for its implementation across the country. He informed that the Union government is preparing detailed reports on projects to link 31 rivers in the country.
Shekhawat, who was in Mumbai to attend a global investors’ summit, said that there will be “effective progress” on interlinking of rivers in the next five years if all the states cooperate on the issue. He said that water and energy are state subjects and thus the Centre cannot force the states to comply with them on the issue.
“It is only through cooperation and understanding between the states that water issues faced by the country every year can be resolved,” Shekhawat said.
Stating the example of the water-sharing dispute in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Shekhawat said each of these states can get more water if nine identified river links are joined.
“These states [Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu] are fighting over 60 thousand million cubic (TMC) litres of water. If all the states agree to link Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna and Pennar rivers in the next six years, each of them will get 200 TMC water. However, the states are not agreeing to interlink the rivers. When there are times of distress, no state wants to let go of the water that they get,” Shekhawat said.
He added that the Union government has brought an interstate water dispute Bill to resolve conflicts related to water sharing through a tribunal in the next four to five years.
Shekhawat also spoke about the need for water conservation to achieve water security. “There are five principles to be followed — conserving water at an individual level, judicious use of water in agriculture, water reuse, use of technology and a mass movement to save water,” he said.