Insisting that the river interlinking projects would benefit in terms of flood control and irrigation, Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti on Wednesday said the centre is keen to take up two river interlinking projects in Odisha at a cost of Rs.30,000 crore.
Talking to reporters after her discussions with state government officials and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the central minister said she had discussed the Mahanadi – Godavari linking proposal and the Sankosh in Bhutan with Teesta, Mahananda, Subarnarekha and Mahandi project.
On the contentious Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh which is likely to cause submergence and displacement in Odisha, the Union Minister said the height of the multi-purpose Polavaram irrigation project is being constructed as per the award of the Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal which is 150 ft and agreed to by bordering states including Odisha.
The Union government would not provide any fund for the project if the height of the dam was increased violating the tribunal order, said Bharti.
She said the Gopal Krishnan Committee constituted on the direction of the Supreme Court had asked the Odisha government to chose either the best RR policy for the people to be displaced due to the project or the embankment but the Odisha government had not responded to it so far.
I have suggested a official level discussion to iron out all the contentious issues raised by Odisha, she stated.
Speaking about the river linking projects, she said, of the 800 Km long Mahanadi – Godavari linkage as many as 300 km would be in Odisha.
The Sankosh-Mahandi link is of 1100 km. The National Water Development Agency would implement the projects. The entire river linking project would be a national project with central funding up to 90 per cent and 10 per cent by the state government, she said.
She also informed that the proposed Manibhadra dam in Odisha will be shifted to Barimula to minimize submergence .The hydropower plant that would come up at Barimula would generate 240 MW of power.
The submergence will be reduced from 60 acre to only 13.6 acre she said.
Miss Bharati insisted that Odisha will benefit from the river linkage projects as it will irrigate five lakh hecares, solve drinking water problems and help control floods.
A committee will be formed with state government representatives to thrash out any problem or douts, she added.
The Union Minister informed that she had agreed to enhance funding for irrigation projects in Odisha, but would be able to provide only Rs.100 crore this year due to budgetary constraints.
The CM has put forth six projects and the centre will provide over Rs.2580 crore over the next five years she added.
State government sources here said there was no major progress as far as the river interlinking project is concerned.
Odisha has been telling the centre that it should first and foremost assess the water availability in Mahanadi basin and present proper data before asking the state to agree to any proposal.
The Union Minister informed that the survey and study by national institute of hydrology is being done. We asked for the reports to examine before taking a stand on the proposal because as far as our understanding goes, Mahanadi basin is not surplus, said the officials. Similarly, on the funding of irrigation projects, the officials said allocation of Rs.100 crore this year is a pittance.