nKarti Chidambaram, the Congress candidate from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu, sprang a surprise on Sunday when he assured the voters that he would take steps to interlink rivers to resolve the water crisis brewing in the State. This is in contrast to the stance of party’s president Rahul Gandhi who is against the project to interlink rivers in the country.
“It would lead to ecological disaster and we are against such a project,” Rahul Gandhi had said when asked about the mission to interlink rivers in the country. Karti’s announcement is diametrically opposite to the stance of the Gandhi clan.
Farmers all over Tamil Nadu have been waiting for the Centre and State Governments to announce the launching of the Interlinking of major Indian Rivers, at least the peninsular Indian Rivers which alone could solve the perpetual water scarcity haunting the State for more than six decades.
Though the Supreme Court had ordered the Centre to commence the works for Interlinking rivers in the country, no visible serious effort has been done by the Centre in this regard. KS Radhakrishnan, an activist of the MDMK had approached the apex court with a plea to direct the Centre to take up the ILR and the court order was in response to the petition. Radhakrishnan had left the MDMK and joined the DMK because of differences of opinion with Vaiko, his mentor.
The then NDA Government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee appointed a Task Force headed by Suresh Prabhu, a chartered accountant-turned-politician as its head and was given the mandate to prepare a detailed project report for the ILR, a massive project costing Rs 5 lakh crore at the 2004 price levels.
But the Vajpayee Government was voted out in 2004 and the DPR prepared by Prabhu got dusted in the Prime Ministers’ Office. Though the DMK joined the Congress-led Government in 2004 and was in power at the Centre till 2013, the party remained silent over the issue.
But the project is back in the news as the DMK has declared its mission to inter link the rivers of the country. The Dravida party has waxed eloquence on the project in its 2019 manifesto and has assured the people of Tamil Nadu that it would give top priority to it. The Congress manifesto is silent at the ILR.
Karti assured the voters in Sivaganga that he would take steps to interlink the rivers to bring water to the parched regions. But Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had declared the mission to bring surplus waters from Godavari in Andhra Pradesh to Cauvery in Tamil Nadu by a network of pipelines.