Search Post on this Blog

Linkage of rivers UPSC | Contemporary Issues | Geography of India

What is the linkage of the river?

The idea of river interlinking in India was first proposed by Chief Engineer of Madras Presidency, Sir Arthur Cotton, in 1919. The purpose of river interlining in British India was mainly for navigation of goods in various parts of India, as well as to meet the water shortage of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha region.

Post-Independence, the famous Dam designer, Dr. K.L Rao proposed the "National Water Grid" in the 1970s. He proposed the diversion of surplus water from the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers to the Peninsular river.

River linking is a project that aims to connect all the major rivers of India with the help of reservoirs and canals.

Evolution of linkage of rivers project:

  • During Britisher's time(n 1919), Arthur Cotton; plan to interlink the river for navigation purposes in peninsular India.
  • 1972; National water Grid proposal
  • 1977: Capt. Dastur proposes two major canals;
    • Himalayan river
    • Peninsular river
  • 1982; National water development was set up to access the feasibility of inter river.
  • 2002; Task forces of the interlinking river.
  • 2006; Pattiseema lift irrigation project completed
  • Ken Betwa link approved.

There are three major projects under the rivers project:

  • Interlinking of Himalayan rivers.
  • Interlining of Peninsula river.
  • Interstate river linking.
National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has prepared a report on 14 interlinking projects for Himalayan rivers, 16 inter-linking projects for peninsular rivers, and 37 interstate linking projects.

Outgoing project, 

  • Pattiseema lift irrigation project; Godavari and Krishna rivers are interlinked.
  • Ken Betwa interlinking.
  • Satluj Yamuna Link canal project.

Why is the Interlinking of the river needed?

Interlining rivers may solve the drought, floods, and shortage of drinking water:
  • Rainfall distribution and surface water are not uniformly distributed over India.
  • Some regions experience an acute shortage of water and some regions faced flood-like problems. 
  • India is an agrarian economy and due to the growing population water demand for agriculture, domestics, and industries is rising. 
  • Inter states dispute is also rising due to water shortages. 
  • It will recharge the groundwater table.
  • Interlinking the river may solve these problems.


  • Interlining rivers will provide a cheap source of inland navigation. It will also help in fighting against climate change as it provides a low carbon footprint.

Advantages of Linkage of rivers:

The following are the advantages:

  • One step forward to redistribution of surface water that may solve the future water scarcity problem and minimize the adverse effects of climate changes
  • It may solve the draught and flood problem
  • It will help Inland waterways; will save fule and cheap way of transport
  • Agricultural benefits will increase irrigation areas
  • The new scope of fish farming
  • Employment generation
  • One step forward for national integrity
  • Increase in tourism activities
  • Increase the afforestation
  • Reduce land degradation and desertification problems

Challenges of linkages of rivers;

Environmental or ecological challenges of rivers linking;

  • There is a knowledge gap between the claimed benefits and potential harm to the environment and ecology.
  • For river interlinking, the construction of numerous small dams and barrages is needed, which will submerge the forest and present the ecosystem along with the construction.
  • The water deficit region will get sufficient water and there will be sudden changes in Habitat such as soil moisture, and vegetation growth which may lead negatively impacts the organism. As student changes in an ecosystem are not good for sustainability.
  • The construction of the canal and submergence of the area will decrease the habitat of the wild organisms which may decrease the biodiversity.
  • Deforestation may happen for executing the project.
  • Lack of fresh influx water in estuary and delta, and ocean may lead to a disaster of the marine ecosystem.
  • The frequency of landslides and earthquake-like disasters may increase.

Social challenges of river linking;

  • It will increase the number of forced migrations.
  • Loss of forest means loss of livelihood of tribal, which increases poverty. The unskilled tribal population will have forced to work as labor.
Economic challenges of river linking;

  • Huge capital is needed for constructing dams and canals.
  • The course of the river of most of the rivers changes over time, the linking rivers will be challenging and will cost much.
  • Some of the zones lie in highly earthquake zone, linking the areas will be challenging and dangerous.

Alternative of linkage of rivers:

  • Need efficient water harvesting techniques at each level from household level to national level.
  • A new efficient method for irrigation such as drip and sprinkle irrigation must be used in agriculture to save water consumption.

Try to solve the following questions:
  • Discuss the ecological and economic challenges of river linking in India. ( UPSC 15 marks, geography option paper 2)
  • Bring out the development of river water transport in India and its role in regional development. (UPSC 2016, 250 words, 20 marks)
  • भारत में नदी जोड़ने की पारिस्थितिकी और आर्थिक चुनौतियों की विवेचना कीजिये। (15 marks)
You may like also:

Next Post »