Par Tapi Narmada River-linking Project

The Par Tapi Narmada link project estimated to cost Rs 10,211 crore was envisaged under the 1980 National Perspective Plan under the former Union Ministry of Irrigation and the Central Water Commission (CWC). The project aims to transfer river water from the surplus regions of the Western Ghats to the deficit regions of Kutch and Saurashtra. It proposes to link three rivers i.e. Par, Tapi and Narmada by constructing dams, diversion weirs, tunnels, canals and powerhouses.

This topic is important for the UPSC Prelims examination and GS papers of the UPSC Main examination. Candidates should go through the list of important rivers in India, their tributaries, important species found in and around the river system etc.

Why was the Par Tapi Narmada river-linking project in the news?

In March 2022, the Gujarat government announced in the state legislature that it had suspended the Par-Tapi-Narmada river interlinking project due to opposition from tribals. The project was also in the news as the tribals in the area had recently held protests against the Centre’s Project.

Earlier this year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Union Budget speech (2022) indicated the Centre’s renewed push for river-linking projects, which include:

  • Ken-Betwa river interlinking project (it was approved last year) 
  • Par Tapi-Narmada, Daman-Ganga Pinjar, Krishna-Godavari, Krishna-Pennar and Pennar-Cauvery (5 river-linking projects that have been finalised and will be implemented when consensus is reached among the beneficiary states)

Facts About the Par Tapi Narmada River-linking Project

Important facts about the Par Tapi Narmada River-linking Project are given below:

  • The project proposes to link three rivers — 
    • Par originates from Nashik in Maharashtra and flows through Valsad, 
    • Tapi originates from Saputara, which flows through Maharashtra and Surat in Gujarat, and
    • Narmada originates in Madhya Pradesh and flows through Maharashtra and Bharuch and Narmada districts in Gujarat.
  • The Par Tapi Narmada river-linking project mainly includes the construction of:
    • Seven dams, that is, Jheri, Mohankavchali, Paikhed, Chasmandva, Chikkar, Dabdar and Kelwan. Jheri reservoir falls in Nashik and is the only one in Maharashtra. The remaining dams will be in the Valsad and Dang districts of South Gujarat.
    • Three diversion weirs (Paikhed, Chasmandva, and Chikkar dams), 
    • Two tunnels (5.0 kilometres and 0.5 kilometres in length), 
    • The 395-kilometre-long canal (205 kilometres in Par-Tapi portion including the length of feeder canals and 190 km in the Tapi-Narmada portion), and
    • Six powerhouses
  • On May 3, 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)  was signed between the Central government and the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
  • In 2015, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) prepared the Detailed Project Report (DPR), which was later modified with the intervention of the Gujarat government. 

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Benefits of the  Par Tapi Narmada River-linking Project

Some benefits of the Par Tapi Narmada River-linking Project are:

  • Irrigation benefits:

The Par Tapi Narmada project is expected to irrigate an area of 2,32,175 hectares, of which 61,190 ha is en route to the link canal. The Narmada water thus saved will be used to irrigate the tribal land in Chhota Udepur district and Panchmahal district, on the right side of the Narmada Main Canal (NMC). About 42,368 ha of area will also be covered in the Saurashtra region.

  • Containing flood-like situations: The project aims to make use of the excess water that flows into the sea by interlinking the rivers. This will help in containing regular flood-like situations in the rivers in Valsad, Surat, Navsari and Bharuch.

The excess water in the interlinked Par, Tapi and Narmada rivers which flow into the sea in the monsoon will be diverted to Saurashtra and Kutch for irrigation. In the monsoon season, water is supplied to Saurashtra through the state government from the Sardar Sarovar dam. This water will be saved and used for other purposes. 

Drawbacks of the  Par Tapi Narmada River-linking Project

 The disadvantages of the Par Tapi Narmada River-linking Project are as follows:

  • Submergence of Land: As per a report by the National Water Development Agency (NWDA), about, 6065 ha of the land area will be submerged due to the proposed reservoirs. Out of 61 villages, 60 will be partially submerged and one will be fully submerged.
  • Displacement of People: According to a report by the National Water Development Agency (NWDA):
    • The total number of affected families would be 2,509 of which 98 families would be affected due to the creation of the Jheri reservoir (the only one in Maharashtra) spread over six villages.
    • In Gujarat, 793 families from various villages will be affected by the Kelwan reservoir, 563 families by the Dabdar reservoir, 379 families by Chasmandva reservoir spread over 7 villages, 345 families would be affected by Chikkar reservoir and 331 families would be affected due to Paikhed reservoir. People may lose their houses or lands or both due to the construction of dams.
  • Environmental Impact: The Par Tapi Narmada river-linking project will affect the ecosystem in and around the river systems as well as the marine ecosystem, to which these rivers carry freshwater. 

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