Linking the Godavari and Cauvery rivers will be the top priority for the next NDA government, Union Water Resources and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said.
The water resources ministry has already prepared a Detailed Project Report (DPR) with an estimated cost of Rs 40,000 crore, he said.
Preparations were on to take various permissions for the mega project, but they were interrupted by the Model Code of Conduct coming into force — after elections, the government will take up the issue on priority, Gadkari told DH.
The project, which mainly involved tapping Godavari backwaters, will end the water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, he said.
Though the government had earlier proposed to link Ganga and Cauvery, with the idea of taking water from the Himalayan basin to the tail end of Tamil Nadu, the Centre has decided to tap the surplus water in Godavari to address the water woes in the two southern states, he said.
“So, on the basis of that, we are constructing a big project in Andhra Pradesh called Polavaram. The backwater of Polavaram, 1100 tmc of water, is going to the sea from Godavari and the dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is for 45tmc. So, now we have prepared a DPR. We are taking the backwater of Godavari from Polavaram, taking that water to Krishna, Krishna’s water to Pennar and Pennar to Cauvery — tail end of Tamil Nadu. So this is really a dream project for me, we are working on that project,” he said.
Since it will be a national project, funding from international agencies like World Bank and ADB will be sought. While the Centre will spend 90% of the total cost, the remaining 10% will be spent by the beneficiary state governments, he said.
“Actually, the water problem in the country is not the problem of whole of India. There are some pockets, but basically, water scarcity is a problem related to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. These are the states where we are facing the problem,” he said.