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Riverlinking project to begin in April at earliest: official

A screen grab of ministry of water resources website. The riverlinking project that’s expected to eventually bring drinking water to 1.35 million people will start sometime during the fiscal year from April to March 2016 and be completed within 5-years.
A screen grab of ministry of water resources website. The riverlinking project that’s expected to eventually bring drinking water to 1.35 million people will start sometime during the fiscal year from April to March 2016 and be completed within 5-years.

The Ken-Betwa link will be the first of a planned series to connect 14 rivers from the Himalayas and 16 across the India peninsula

New Delhi: Work on India’s first riverlinking project connecting the northern Ken and Betwa rivers will begin in April at the earliest, said Anuj Kumar Bishnoi, senior-most bureaucrat in the water ministry.

The project that’s expected to eventually bring drinking water to 1.35 million people in the largest user of groundwater in the world will start sometime during the fiscal year from April to March 2016 and be completed within 5-years, Bishnoi said on Wednesday in an interview in New Delhi.

The Ken-Betwa link, cleared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet in July, will be the first of a planned series to connect 14 rivers from the Himalayas and 16 across the India peninsula. The plan, delayed more than three decades, seeks to bring water from one area with plentiful supplies to others with not enough, adding 35 million hectares (86 million acres) of irrigated farmland while helping provide 34,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power three cities the size of New York.

Asia’s third-biggest economy extracts 230 cubic kilometers of groundwater every year, more than one-quarter of the global total, according to the World Bank. In 2006, the government estimated the two-phase Ken-Betwa project costs at 7,600 crore ($1.2 billion). That was revised to almost 9,400 crore in 2008.

Modi’s federal government will fund 90% of the Ken- Betwa and subsequent projects, with states paying the rest, Masood Husain, director-general of the National Water Development Agency, the government arm that will oversee the plan, said in September. Bloomberg

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