The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday directed the Centre to implement the ambitious interlinking of rivers project in a time-bound manner and appointed a high-powered committee for its planning and implementation. Observing that the already-delayed project has resulted in an increase in cost, a three-judge bench headed by chief justice SH Kapadia said the Centre and the concerned state governments should participate for its “effective” implementation.
The project, a brainchild of the NDA government, aims to link 30 major rivers. It will also involve diverting the Ganges and the Brahmaputra — two of India’s biggest rivers. The project requires the construction of large dams within India, Nepal and Bhutan, and international agreements with these countries.
he SC order on Monday came on a suo motu petition. The bench appointed a high-powered committee comprising the Union minister of water resources, its secretary, and four experts appointed by the water resources ministry, finance ministry, planning commission and the environment ministry as well the secretary of the green ministry.
Representatives from state governments, two social activists and senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, who has been assisting the SC in the case, will also be on the committee.
“We direct the Union of India to forthwith constitute a committee for interlinking of rivers and instruct the panel to implement the project,” the bench said.
The taskforce set up by the government said the linking of the rivers will raise the irrigation potential from 140 million hectares to 160 million hectares for all types of crops by 2050.