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interlinking of rivers

Interlinking of Rivers and Important, Advantages & Disadvantages

As water resources shrink as a result of population growth and climate change. Interlinking of rivers has emerged as an attractive strategy to meet rising water demands. Here we explore its concept, its benefits and drawbacks, ongoing projects in this regard and its future potential.

Water is essential to human survival and economic growth. With global population projected to hit 9.7 billion by 2050, demand for freshwater will only increase with climate change leading to decreased precipitation patterns causing scarcity issues. Interlinking rivers has emerged as an innovative solution that meets rising water demands while simultaneously combatting scarcity issues.

What is interlinking of rivers?

Interlinking of rivers is an ambitious infrastructure project. Which seeks to connect rivers in various regions in order to move excess water from surplus basins into deficient ones, or vice versa. First proposed in India during the 1970s, interlinking requires building canals, reservoirs, and dams as part of this infrastructure plan in order to transport river waters between river basins.


Benefits of interlinking of rivers

Improved Irrigation and Agriculture

Interlinking rivers can increase water availability for irrigation and agriculture purposes in water-limited regions, potentially improving crop yields as well as food security.

Flood Control

Linking rivers together can provide an effective means of flood control by redirecting excess water away from flood-prone regions to other parts of the country. Thus mitigating their  destructive potential and protecting both humans and infrastructure against damage from flooding events.

Power Generation

Connected rivers offer opportunities for hydropower generation that may contribute to meeting regional energy demands.


Connecting rivers together can enhance navigation by creating waterways for transport of goods and people.


4. Drawbacks of interlinking of rivers

Ecological Impacts 

Interlinking rivers can have severe ecological ramifications by altering river flows, habitats, and ecosystems – as well as leading to loss of biodiversity and endangering aquatic species’ existence.

Displaced people and livelihoods

Rerouting rivers may lead to the displacement of residents in affected areas, disrupting both their traditional ways of living as well as livelihoods and traditional sources of support.

High costs and feasibility challenges

Interlinking rivers is a massive infrastructure project with high costs and feasibility challenges, such as dam construction. To connect rivers together requires significant financial, time, and resource investments involving dams, canals and reservoirs. Which requires massive financial, time and resource investments as well as substantial returns on investments. Some experts have raised doubts as to its economic viability. Suggesting its costs outweigh potential benefits and may result in insignificant returns; also depending on demand for water across linked regions it might affect economic viability as a whole.


Ongoing river interlinking projects in India

India has made interlinking rivers an ongoing endeavor and several projects are in various stages of planning or implementation at any one time. Here are some major river interlinking efforts underway in India:

Ken-Betwa River Interlinking Project

This ambitious endeavor calls for water transference from Madhya Pradesh’s Ken River to Uttar Pradesh’s Betwa River for irrigation purposes on 6.35 lakh ha of Bundelkhand land that are particularly drought-prone. This endeavor should support drought relief measures.

Damanganga-Pinjal river interlinking project

This initiative involves moving water from Daman Ganga river in Gujarat to Pinjal river in Maharashtra in order to supply drinking water to Mumbai and neighboring regions.

Par-Tapi-Narmada River Interlinking Project

This project involves moving water between Gujarat’s Par and Tapi rivers and Madhya Pradesh’s Narmada river via pipeline. providing irrigation water to over 10.62 lakh hectares of agricultural land as well as drinking water to various towns and cities throughout Madhya Pradesh. The resultant irrigation water should provide irrigation water to over 10.62 lakh acres as well as drinking water to various towns and cities within Madhya Pradesh.

Godavari-Cauvery River Interlinking Project

This initiative involves moving surplus water from Andhra Pradesh’s Godavari river to Tamil Nadu’s Cauvery river for distribution as irrigation in drought-stricken regions in Tamil Nadu.

Himalayan River Interlinking Project

This ambitious initiative seeks to link several rivers in the Himalayan region – Brahmaputra, Ganga and Mahanadi among them – in order to supply irrigation water in drought-stricken North India regions as well as generate hydroelectricity power.

International experiences with river interlinking

Linking rivers together isn’t a new idea and several countries around the globe have successfully implemented similar projects. Here are a few international experiences with river interlinking:


South-North Water Transfer Project is one of the world’s largest river interlinking efforts. Moving water between Yangtze River in southern China to Yellow River in its more arid northern region. Serving over 100 million people with drinking water while also irrigating 40 million hectares of farmland.

United States

In the US, The Central Arizona Project is an interconnecting river project designed to deliver Colorado River water directly into central and southern Arizona for use as irrigation in agricultural settings as well as drinking water for urban communities. The aim is to meet both agricultural irrigation needs as well as drinking water needs of surrounding populations.


Australia’s Snowy Mountains Scheme is a river interlinking project connecting Snowy River with Murray River for hydroelectricity production, irrigation water supplies and flood prevention in Australia’s Snowy Mountain Region.

South Africa

The Lesotho Highlands Water Project in South Africa is an ambitious river interlinking initiative which transfers water from Lesotho highlands into South Africa for use as drinking water in urban areas as well as to generate hydroelectricity power.


Why Interlinking of Rivers is Important in India

India, home to over 1.3 billion people, is currently facing an acute water crisis due to increasing demands and depleted groundwater reserves. One proposed solution involves linking rivers. We will discuss why such connectivity matters in India as well as any benefits it might bring the nation.

India is home to numerous rivers such as Ganges, Brahmaputra, Yamuna and Godavari. Yet even with so much freshwater available. It continues to experience severe water shortages in recent years. According to research by National Institution for Transforming India 21 Indian cities could run out of groundwater by 2020 with interlinking rivers seen as potential solutions to address India’s current water crises.


The Need for Interlinking of Rivers in India

India is an agricultural economy centered on irrigation; yet only 46% of agricultural land in India has access to this form of water for farming. Leaving much of it dependent upon rainfall for production and food security. By connecting rivers in order to deliver this much-needed source of water to these remote regions. Interlinking can increase crop productivity while simultaneously guaranteeing food security and increasing food productivity.

India requires interlinking rivers for another important reason – unequal distribution of water resources. Some regions like Northeast receive abundant rain while Western and Southern regions often struggle with chronic shortages. By connecting rivers across regions equally across India, interlinking of rivers helps balance out this distribution ensuring all parts have equal access to freshwater sources.


Interlinking of rivers can provide viable solutions

Interlinking of rivers has emerged as one of the proposed solutions to address water scarcity and flood management in India. By connecting rivers and their tributaries via canals and reservoirs. To move surplus water surplus regions toward deficit ones. Below is a table outlining potential advantages and risks related to interlinking rivers in India:


Advantages of Interlinking of Rivers:

Advantage Description
Increased irrigation potential Connecting rivers together can increase irrigation potential in a country by providing access to scarce sources.
Flood control Interlinking rivers is one way of mitigating flood damage by redirecting excess water towards regions with limited supply of freshwater.
Improved water supply Urban and rural areas alike can benefit from increased water supplies through accessing excess regions.
Hydroelectric power generation Project can generate hydroelectricity by building an intricate network of reservoirs and canals.


Challenges of Interlinking of Rivers:

Challenge Description
Environmental concerns Linking rivers together can have serious repercussions for the environment, including changing river flows, destruction of aquatic habitats and loss of biodiversity.
Cost and financing Estimations put the project’s implementation costs in billions of dollars; financing it could pose considerable difficulty.
Technical challenges Project challenges involve engineering and construction challenges such as creating canals and reservoirs, maintaining water quality standards, and managing its distribution.
Social and political issues Interlinking of rivers could create disputes among states concerning water sharing, resettlement of people from affected regions and issues surrounding land acquisition.


Interlinking of Rivers Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of Interlinking Rivers Disadvantages of Interlinking Rivers
1. Water availability: Interlinked rivers provide needed water access in regions facing scarcity issues for irrigation, drinking and industrial purposes. 1. Environmental Concerns: This project may lead to adverse environmental consequences such as reduced biodiversity, disrupted ecosystems and destruction of forests or wetlands.
2. Flood Control: By connecting rivers together, interlinkage also assists in mitigating floodwater by diverting excess from flood-prone regions to regions in need of additional moisture. 2. Financial Commitments: Projects often involve large financial investments that exceed any potential returns.
3. Navigating: Connecting rivers can create waterways which offer enhanced transportation and navigation options that contribute significantly to economic development.


3. Technical Issues: Construction and engineering projects often encompass numerous complex activities. That pose various technical hurdles that must be navigated carefully in order to proceed successfully. To meet their deadlines successfully.
4. Energy Production: With this initiative, energy can also be produced via hydropower generation by harnessing river potential for powering hydroelectricity production. 4. Inter-State Conflicts: This project could spark interstate tension and disagreement over water use rights that escalates into legal or political battles between states involved
5. Drought Mitigation: Connected rivers can also play an instrumental role in mitigating drought by providing access to freshwater for drought-affected regions. 5. Social Impacts: This project may lead to displacement of residents living near canals and dams being constructed, as well as negatively affecting livelihoods that depend on rivers for resources.


FAQs of Interlinking of Rivers In India, 

What Is Interlinking of Rivers in India? 

Interlinking of rivers refers to an initiative in India to connect various rivers through canals and reservoirs so as to transfer excess water supplies in certain regions to areas with shortages, in an attempt to mitigate flooding, drought conditions and provide irrigation support for agriculture. The primary aim is preventing floods as well as drought-induced shortages through providing extra irrigation water – effectively mitigating floods as well as drought.

Why Is Interlinking of Rivers Important? 

Interlinking rivers is vitally important to India as a way of combating. Its water scarcity problem in drought-prone regions as well as helping avoid floods by diverting excess water away from surplus regions to deficit ones and vice versa. Improving agricultural production while creating hydroelectricity generation potential.

What are the challenges involved in interlinking of rivers?

Implementation of interlinking rivers presents numerous obstacles, from ecological concerns and relocation of people living nearby canals and reservoirs, to financial feasibility. There could be negative environmental ramifications such as habitat destruction, biodiversity loss and soil erosion; relocation is another major consideration; costs could become prohibitively expensive due to legal obstacles; financial viability is another uncertainty surrounding such projects.

Has river interlinking been implemented in India?

No. Interlinking rivers on a large scale has not yet taken place in India. 

What is the current state of India’s interlinking rivers project?

India remains at an early stage in discussing and deliberating upon this initiative to interlink rivers. A task force was set up by the government in order to study its feasibility. Various committees have also been created in order to evaluate both ecological and sociological effects associated with it. Furthermore, some states have voiced objections due to concerns for how much impact will fall upon their own water supplies as part of this scheme.


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