A massive, $87 billion plan to connect 60 Indian rivers through a network of canals – in a bid to check deadly floods and droughts – is soon to commence work. Environmentalists allege it’s a ‘money making business’ that will destroy natural ecosystems.
The project will connect large rivers – including the Ganges, Godavari and Mahanadi. It is expected to bring millions of hectares of land under irrigation, and water to drought hit states, such as Tamil Nadu. The project will also build numerous dams that will prevent monsoon floods, and produce lots of electricity. Numerous necessary clearances are said to have been obtained in record time. Experts say that the idea of linking rivers is neither scientific nor it has credible evidence.
Environmentalists fear the dams will wreak “ecological disaster” by drowning thousands of hectares of forest land, displacing communities and endangering species such as tigers and vultures in the Panna Tiger Reserve (Madhya Pradesh), besides potentially leading to floods upstream and droughts downstream of the dams. Water experts also say that given India’s access to only 4% of the world’s freshwater resources, the government should instead focus on water conservation and less water-intensive farming practices.