Facing resistance to its ambitious river interlinking programme from some states, the Centre has launched an exercise to take them on board by convincing them about the benefits they could reap from its execution.
As part of the initiative, top Water Resources Ministry officials met Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik last week to seek his cooperation in implementing the project.
"Union Water Resources Ministry officials called on Odisha Chief Minister about ten days ago and discussed about the benefits Odisha would get in the wake of interlinking of the rivers in the country," a senior official said.
Noting that the Mahanadi-Godavari Link was key to linking Brahmaputra with Cauvery, he said an additional six lakh acres would be irrigated in Odisha if the rivers got interlinked.
"We told the Odisha government that anywhere between five and six lakh acres of land would get water for irrigation if the interlinking of rivers takes place," he said, adding the eastern state would be a major beneficiary of the project.
The development comes in the wake of Kerala and Odisha opposing the project for interlinking rivers. The Centre has, however, received the backing of most other states for proceeding with the contentious project.
After Odisha, the focus would be on enlisting the support of West Bengal, a key state for linking Bramhaputra and Cauvery.
According to ministry sources, the Centre would be soon approaching the West Bengal government to explain the benefits that would accrue to the state in terms of industrialisation.
Noting that the Damodar Valley is rich in minerals, the officials said this region could emerge as an industrial hub if adequate water is made available.
National Water Development Agency (NWDA), functioning under the Ministry of Water Resources, had identified 30 inter state river links in mid 1980s.
Of these, feasibility reports for 16 links have been completed, while four projects are in the pipeline for execution.
Linking of Ken-Betwa rivers between UP and MP would be the first interlinking project to be implemented under the scheme.