Waterman of Rajasthan, Rajendera Singh on Tuesday disapproved the concept of ‘inter-linking of rivers’ in the country and said it would lead to huge wastage of money.
"The contours in India are varied and inter-linking of rivers is not feasible here. It is a distant dream,” Singh said, in reply to a question at Raj Bhawan here during an interaction with state officials.
A Ramon Magsaysay award winner for water management in Rajasthan in 2001, Rajendra Singh was here to give tips to Himachal government on water conservation on the initiative of Governor, Acharya Devvrat.
Singh said instead of linking the rivers, the effort should be to link the Indian society with rivers.
“The need of the hour is to revive the dried up rivers, which will take care of floods as well as drought,” he said.
He said he had even put forth his view point before the NDA government headed by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee then, which had mooted the proposal of inter-linking of rivers.
He, however, said the Indian constitution does not talk of the ‘river rights’ as such. He talked of examples of Satluj Yamuna (SYL) link and Kaveri, on which the conflict hasn’t ended even after decades.
“The judiciary has also not been able to find solutions to questions on water,” he said.
The Water Man, however, quickly mentioned that the present Central government is doing good work on Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) to promote village ponds.
He said the selection of old village ponds was done scientifically by people, who were illiterate but had great practical knowledge.
Singh referred to ‘river rights’ (as a tradition) in the context of damage caused to water resources on hills during execution of hydro electric projects and the rivers being moved into tunnels in Himachal. “I would go by judgement of Uttarakhand High Court on a related issue. The judgement should move forward to other places also,” he remarked.
The Uttarakhand High Court, in an order on March 20, had accorded the status of ‘living human entities’.
He narrated the success story of water conservation in Rajasthan with community participation and shared how an ‘illiterate village elder’ taught him geo hydro science with practical approach.
“He didn’t have words but he knew the ground reality. He asked me to climb down the dried wells in the village to study and find out natural ways to recharge them. Unfortunately, our scientists today have words, but they lack practical knowledge. But that’s more a fault of education system,” he held.
The waterman asked the hill state to tame its streams, revive village ponds, plant more orchards and ensure community driven decentralised water management based on agro-ecological climatic diversity.