General Studies IGEOGRAPHY

Par Tapi Narmada River Linking Project


Recently, some tribals have intensified their protest against the Par Tapi Narmada River Linking Project after it was mentioned in the budget speech (2022-23) of the finance minister.


The projects envisage a transfer of surplus water of rivers in Maharashtra and south Gujarat to feed the command area of the Miyagam branch of the Narmada canal. It will save water in the Narmada dam, which will be taken to Saurashtra and Kutch.

The project is aimed at diverting “surplus” water from parts of west-flowing rivers like the Par, the Nar, the Ambika and the Auranga basins in Maharashtra.

Besides providing irrigation benefits to the enroute command and Narmada command, the link will generate hydropower of the order of 93.00 Mkwh through the powerhouses installed at four dam sites viz. Jheri, Paikhed, Chasmandva and Chikkar and in two feeder canals taking off from Dabdar and Kelwan dams. The reservoirs will also provide flood relief to the people residing in downstream areas.

The project of the Par-Tapi-Narmada link generally falls in the state of Gujarat except for the Jheri reservoir which falls in Maharashtra state. Jheri dam is located in the Nasik district of Maharashtra while remaining dams viz. Mohankavchali, Palkhed, Chasmandva, Chikkar, Dabdar, and Kelwan dams are located in the Valsad and Dang districts of Gujarat.

What is the Par Tapi Narmada River Linking Project?

  • Par Tapi Narmada Link proposes to transfer water from the water surplus regions of Western Ghats to the water deficit regions of Saurashtra and Kutch (Gujarat).
  • The link project includes seven reservoirs proposed in north Maharashtra and south Gujarat.
  • The water from the seven proposed reservoirs would be taken through a 395 km long canal to take over a part of the command of the on-going SardarSarovar Project (on Narmada), while irrigating small enroute areas.
    • The seven dams proposed in the scheme are Jheri, Mohankavchali, Palkhed, Chasmandva, Chikkar, Dabdar and Kelwan.
  • This would save SardarSarovar water which will be used to extend irrigation in Saurashtra and Kutch region.
  • The link mainly envisages construction of seven dams, three diversion weirs, two tunnels, 395 km long canal, 6 power houses and a number of cross-drainage works.

Protests against the project

  • Protests have started in the tribal-dominated districts of Dang, Tapi, and Valsad against the interlinking of the Par-Tapi-Narmada river basins in Gujarat and Maharashtra. 
  • They are opposing the project because tribals will lose their land. 
  • Tribals settled along the river bank have developed the forest land allotted to them into agricultural farms by incurring substantial expenditure. 
  • With the construction of the reservoirs, their farmland will be submerged and they will lose their income. 

Benefits of River Interlinking

  • Interlinking rivers is a way to transfer excess water from the regions which receive a lot of rainfall to the areas that are drought-prone. 
    • This way, it can control both floods and droughts.

  • This will also help solve the water crisis in many parts of the country. 
  • The project will also help in hydropower generation.
    • This project envisages the building of many dams and reservoirs. This can generate about 34000 MW of electricity if the whole project is executed.
  • The project will help in dry weather flow augmentation. 
    • That is when there is a dry season, surplus water stored in the reservoirs can be released.
    • This will enable a minimum amount of water flow in the rivers. This will greatly help in the control of pollution, in navigation, forests, fisheries, wildlife protection, etc.
  • Indian agriculture is primarily monsoon-dependent. This leads to problems in agricultural output when the monsoons behave unexpectedly. 
    • This can be solved when irrigation facilities improve. The project will provide irrigation facilities in water-deficient places.
  • The project will also help commercially because of the betterment of the inland waterways transport system.
    • Moreover, the rural areas will have an alternate source of income in the form of fish farming, etc.
  • The project will also augment the defence and security of the country through the additional waterline defence.

What is the Inter-Linking of Rivers Programme?

  • Aim:
    • The InterLinking of Rivers programme (ILR) programme is aimed at linking different surplus rivers of the country with deficient rivers so that the excess water from surplus regions could be diverted to deficient regions.
  • Need:
    • Reducing Regional Imbalance: India depends on monsoon rains that are erratic as well as regionally imbalanced. Interlinking of rivers will reduce the amount of surplus rain and river water which flows into the sea.
    • Irrigation for Agriculture: Interlinking can provide a solution to the rain-fed irrigation problems of Indian agriculture through the transfer of surplus water to deficit regions.
    • Reducing Water Distress: This can help in mitigating the effect of drought and floods to a certain extent.
    • Other Benefits: Hydropower generation, Round the year navigation, Employment generation, Ecological benefits as dried up forests and lands will be replenished.
  • Challenges:
    • Environmental Costs: The project threatens to obstruct the natural ecology of rivers.
    • Climate Change: In interlinking systems, it is assumed that the donor basin has surplus water that can be made available to the recipient basin.
      • The whole concept goes for a toss if this basic assumption goes haywire for any system due to climate change.
    • Economic Costs: It is estimated that river interlinking will be a huge fiscal burden on the Government.
    • Socio-Economic Impact: It is estimated that the network of canals extending to about 15000 km would displace about 5.5 million people, mostly tribals and farmers.

Way Forward

  • India needs to conserve every drop of water, reduce wastage, equitable distribution of resources and at the same time enhance groundwater. So the small scale simple things have to be tried.
  • Local solutions (like better irrigation practice) and watershed management, should be focused on.
  • The government should alternatively consider the National Waterways Project (NWP) which “eliminates” friction between states over the sharing of river waters since it uses only the excess flood water that goes into the sea unexploited.

About Narmada River

  • Narmada is the largest west flowing river of the peninsular region flowing through a rift valley between the Vindhya Range on the north and the Satpura Range on the south.
  • It rises from Maikala range near Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh.
  • It drains a large area in Madhya Pradesh besides some areas in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
  • The river near Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) forms the DhuanDhar Falls.
  • There are several islands in the estuary of the Narmada of which Aliabet is the largest.
  • Major Tributaries: Hiran, Orsang, the Barna and the Kolar.
  • The major Hydro Power Projects in the basin are Indira Sagar, Sardar Sarovar etc.

About the Tapi River

  • Another important westward flowing river originates from the Betul district of Madhya Pradesh in the Satpura ranges.
  • It flows in a rift valley parallel to the Narmada but is much shorter in length.
  • Its basin covers parts of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

About the Par River

  • Par River is a river in Gujarat with its source near wadpada village in Nashik Maharashtra.
  • It flows into the Arabian Sea.

Source: Indian Express

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