New Delhi : The government is trying to start work on five river inter-linking projects in the current fiscal and secure financial assistance from the World Bank and the ADB for the Rs 2 lakh crore project, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday.

“We are making efforts that work on all these five projects starts by March in the current financial year itself,” the Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation said during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha.

Gadkari further said a cabinet note has been moved seeking to accord recognition to it as a National Project.

Minister of State for Water Resources Arjum Ram Meghwal said the delay in implementing the river inter-linking projects was due to projects like the Manas-Sankosh-Teesta- Ganga being connected to Bhutan, Kosi-Mechi and Kosi-Ghaghara to Nepal.

Under the Himalayan Component of the National Perspective Plan for Water Resources Development, six links in Bihar are the Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga link project; Kosi-Ghaghara link project; Chunar-Sone Barrage; Sone Dam-Southern Tributaries of Ganga link project; Kosi-Mechi link project; and Jogighopa-Teesta-Farakka link project.

“We have about 30 river inter-linking projects whom we have taken up for PFR, DPR. Out of these, 5 projects are in the advanced stage which include Ken-Betwa; Godavari-Cauvery; Daman Ganga-Pinjal,” Meghwal said.

Referring to the five projects, Gadkari said in two out of these projects in Gujarat and Maharashtra, Tapi-Narmada and Daman Ganga-Pinjal, some unanimity has been achieved and the agreements will be signed soon.

“We planned to do this during the present Parliament Session itself but it will be cleared eventully. Besides, consensus has been arrived on the Ken-Betwa project related to Bundelkhand connected to Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and it will be signed after this Parliament session,” he said.

Gadkari also said that about Rs 60,000 crore is estimated to be spent on the project related to the building of the Kolavaram dam on Godavari.

“The backwaters bring Godavari’s water to Krishna river, Krishna’s water to Pennar and Pennar’s water to Cauvery. When Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are fighting over 40 Tmc and 3,000 Tmc water is flowing into the ocean, this is also very significant.

“We are making efforts that work on all these five projects starts by March in the current financial year itself,” said Gadkari.

Observing that floods across the country lead to a loss ranging between Rs 5,000 crore and Rs 58,000, including in Bihar, he said “But the question arises is there a consensus on this issue” and added that the government is formulating a policy as there is a need to carry out dredging at regular intervals.

“There should be balance between ecology, environment and development. Sand prices have risen at par with cement in Bihar because we are not allowed to extract. We are bringing with a Cabinet note which will aim to address this problem,” Gadkari said.

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