As Madhya Pradesh's ambitious plan to transport Narmada water to the Malwa plateau takes shape, it demonstrates the futility of river-interlinking projects
Wno water problems anE HAVE ymore. Now, Kshipra ji has sufficient water for everyone,” announces a smiling Manish Dangi, resident of Mudla village in the water-deficit Malwa plateau of Madhya Pradesh.He is standing on the bank of a concrete canal filled with swift-flowing water.It takes a while to fathom that the 3 metre-wide canal from the Narmada river feeds the fast drying Kshipra river,and is its new origin.
Just 50 kilometres away, residents of Aatwan village located in the Nimar plains of the Narmada river,are facing severe water crisis.The village is located in the command area of the Sislia reservoir but does not receive a drop from it.“Every day,the reservoir fills up and then, the water disappears,” says Deoram Narvare of Aatwan, staring ruefully into the nearly empty reservoir.
This reversal in water situation of the two places is the result of the Madhya Pradesh government’s ambitious Narmada-Malwa river-link project,the first river-linking project of the country. Under the project, the government plans to transport Narmada water to the arid Malwa region. This will be done by linking five rivers of the Malwa region—the Kshipra, Gambhir, Parvati, Kali Sindh and Khan—to various dams on the Narmada through canals and pipelines. The government claims that together, these links would provide drinking water to 3,000 villages and 70 cities and irrigate about 680,000 hectares (ha) in the arid Malwa.
However,a close examination of the first phase of the project, linking the Narmada with the Kshipra, shows the 26,000 crore Narmada-Malwa link project is not only expensive, but environmentally disastrous. It was completed in February.While there is no evidence to show that the project would alleviate Malwa’s water crisis,it is already depriving people along the Narmada of water. Besides,the project is highly impractical as it
APARNA PALLAVI / CSE
The canal from the Narmada river feeds the fast drying Kshipra river