NGO to revive river at Rs 2,600 cr under novel project

A map showing the course of Dakshina Pinakini river, which is almost dead.

In a one-of-its-kind initiative, the state Cabinet has permitted a non-governmental organisation to raise Rs 2,600 crore for the rejuvenation of the Dakshina Pinakini river. With this, the Dakshina Pinakini River Rejuvenation Trust will take up several projects to revive the almost-dead river, in a bid to use it as a source of drinking water and agriculture.

The permission will allow the NGO to approach various philanthropic organisations and also seek Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for the ambitious project.

Reviving the dying river and other water bodies along its course, the Trust estimates, will not only help farmers cultivate two crops a year in one of the most-parched regions of the state, but also address water woes in parts of Bengaluru Urban district, Chikkaballapur, Kolar and other places.

According to the proposal by the Water Resources department placed before the Cabinet recently, the project will rejuvenate around 3,000 small irrigation tanks, ensure watershed development, revive rapidly depleting groundwater sources in the south western parts of the State, instal drip and micro irrigation units for farms and encourage farmers to shift to organic farming. The Trust has also proposed to set up a Centre of Excellence to study best practices of such projects.

"During three-four rounds of meetings, the Trust has done enough work to raise funds required for the project," the cabinet note by Rakesh Singh, Principal Secretary of the Department read. Among the philanthropic organisations the Trust is likely to seek funds from include Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives Ltd, Tata Trust and Infosys Ltd. The Trust will also approach United Nations for the Green Climate Fund, the cabinet note said.

While granting approval, the government has also introduced conditional clauses for the project. Primary among them are that the Trust will have to take permission from authorities concerned while taking up rejuvenation works. In case similar projects are undertaken by the government, the Trust will have to merely augment them.

When contacted, N Vishwanathan, former additional chief secretary and one of the trustees, said that they had sought approval for this unique project. "We are still awaiting the government order," he said. The order will empower the Trust to raise funds and start various projects.

 

Work estimates by Trust

Project development - Rs 600 cr
Reviving small irrigation tanks - Rs 900 cr
Reviving tanks in towns - Rs 900 cr
Cost of shifting to organic farming - Rs 100 cr
Setting up Centre of Excellence - Rs 100 cr

Total estimated cost - Rs 2,600 cr

 

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