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Ramesh demands govt abandon interlinking of rivers

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday made a demand for abandoning the interlinking of rivers, claiming it will have a disastrous environmental impact, but members from AIADMK and DMK objected to his views.
Raising the issue during the Zero Hour, Ramesh welcomed the creation of a new integrated Ministry of Jal Shakti, but cautioned on the "perils" of moving ahead with the interlinking of rivers.
"Interlinking of rivers could also profoundly impact the very integrity of Indias monsoon system by reducing fresh water flows into the sea. Vast areas of land will be submerged and millions of people will be displaced," the Congress leader said.
He said in the sub-continent, given the dependence on the monsoon the periods when rivers have surplus water are generally synchronous.
A recent study finds a significant decrease in monsoon rainfall over water surplus river basins in India, he noted.
"Given the topography of India and the way the links are envisaged, they might totally bypass the core dryland areas of central and western India, which are located on elevations of 300 to 1,000 metres above the mean sea level," he said, adding that livelihoods will be endangered on a large scale.
"While, the financial cost of interlinking are underestimated, the cumulative ecological costs have hardly been studied in any detail. Rivers are living organisms with unique ecosystems and they need to be treated as such," he said.
Ramesh said a very large number of experts who are working in the area of water management have also been voicing their concerns on the ecological and social costs of interlinking of rivers.
"Therefore, I urge the Ministry of Jal Shakti to abandon this fixation on solving Indias water problems through mega engineering fads and focus on urgent issues of water management, efficiency and conservation," he said.
While many members of Congress and NCP supported the view and associated themselves with the issue, MPs from Tamil Nadu of both AIADMK and DMK raised objections.
"You have expressed your view, now leave it....Mr Jairam Ramesh has got every right to express his view. But, I would like to tell him politely that this is not the view of the country as of now.
"That has to be understood....That is broadly so, if you have any idea, then, you should ask the states, they will tell you," Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said, as MPs from Tamil Nadu parties raised strong objections.
A Navaneethakrishnan (AIADMK) said members have the right to associate or disassociate with the view.

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First Published: Jul 30 2019 | 6:11 PM IST

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