River linking projects only with consent of states: Bharti

New Delhi : The ambitious river-linking projects will be implemented only in those states which favoured it while those opposed would be left out, Government said in Lok Sabha today.

Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti said that “Tamil Nadu has always cooperated to the project but Kerala opposed to it due to certain concerns. The Prime Minister has made it clear that we should discuss the project only with those states which have given consent to it.

“We would not force any state unless and until it (the state) gives its consent. Till the time Kerala comes on board, there will be no discussion with the state on river-linking project,” she said during Question Hour.

Bharti’s statement came when the House saw noisy exchanges between AIADMK members, who favoured river-linking projects, and Kerala MPs who are opposed to it.

“But I want to make it clear that we are committed to implement the river-linking project. It is a priority project. We have mentioned about it in our manifesto too,” she said, adding that even the Supreme Court has observed that the river-linking project served national interests.

The Minister said river linking was the only solution to the flood problem in the country as Rs 5,000 crore was spent on flood management every year.

“Due to floods, we lose large amount of properties and human lives, which is irreparable,” she said.

Bharti said there are 21 river-linking projects in the pipelines, of which Ken-Betwa project was in advanced stage of implementation while action has been taken on five more such projects.

“We will do it. We will certainly do it. Because when some states face floods, at the same time there is severe drought in some others,” she said.

Bharti said when the river-linking project is implemented, 35,000 hectares of land could be irrigated and 34,000 MW power could be produced.