River-linking project: NWDA response by March

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Wednesday said, a response on the Centre’s ambitious river interlinking proposal to connect Rushikulya and Mahanadi rivers to which the State raised objections on certain grounds, is expected by March end.

Informing this to media, chief engineer of Water Resources department Janaki Mohapatra said, “The ball is in Centre’s court now. Last year when officials of Union Water Resources Ministry and National Water Development Agency (NWDA), functioning under the Ministry convened a meeting in this regard (river linking project), we had put before them our observations. They have not responded yet and we got to know that the report will most likely reach us by end of March.”
The development came in the wake of Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati’s statement that the proposal would benefit the State the most.

“We hope that the Centre’s proposal is a very good initiative and it will benefit the State most,” Bharati told media today. Bharati held a discussion in this regard with chief minister Naveen Patnaik at the secretariat today.

Officials of the Ministry during a presentation to the State government in July last year had stated that anywhere between five and six lakh acres of land would get water for irrigation if the interlinking of rivers takes place.

Linking of these rivers is also part of the greater river- linking proposal ‘Mahanadi-Godavari Networking Scheme’, officials added.

NWDA had identified 30 inter-state river links in mid 1980s. Of these, feasibility reports for 16 links have been completed, while four projects are in the pipeline for execution.