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India's river inter-linking plan is a Rs 5,60,000 crore-project

New Delhi : Even as the Ken-Betwa link project, the first of the ambitious river inter-linking scheme gets delayed due to environmental strictures, the Centre has said as much as Rs 5,60,000 crore would be needed for undertaking all projects.

A massive Rs 3,75,000 crore is likely to be spent on undertaking 14 link projects under the Himalayan component while the peninsular component of the project, with 16 links, is likely to cost Rs 1,85,000 crore.

The total expenditure, however, is only an estimtation at this time and would be known after completion of all individual detailed project reports (DPRs), indicated Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Dr Sanjeev Kumar Balyan recently in the Lok Sabha.

As per the DPRs, the estimated cost of Ken-Betwa Link Project Phase-I and Phase-II is about Rs 18057.08 crore (2015-16 price level) and Rs 2282.94 crore (2012-13 price level).

The estimated cost of Damanganga-Pinjal Link Project is about Rs 3008 crores (2015-16 price level) while the estimated cost of Par–Tapi–Narmada Link project is Rs 9279 Crore (at 2014-15 price level).

A senior official of the Water Resources Ministry said the inter-linking projects have been planned to address the twin problems of water scarcity and flooding in the country. "The amount proposed to be spent in these is far greater than several other flagship schemes including Namami Gange. The private sector's active involvement and participation would be needed in this scheme", the official added.

Pre-feasibility reports of 36 intra-state link proposals, of the 46 such proposals, have also been completed.

The DPRs are at various stages of approval.

The in-principle approval of the Standing Committee of the National Wild Life Board has been received for the Ken-Betwa link Project and the Government is planning to start implementing this national project as a model link project of ILR programme, which will benefit the drought-prone areas of Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, said Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti.

In order to speed up the implementation of inter-linking programme and to arrive at a consensus on the link proposals between the states, a Special Committee for Interlinking of Rivers, was constituted in September 2014.

The Committee, which has held 10 meetings since them, is considering the views of all the stakeholders and taking all necessary steps for expediting the objectives of interlinking rivers programme as per terms of reference, Bharti added.

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