Sir, since 1951, according to the Tenth Plan document, there have been 1,300 irrigation projects that have been taken up for implementation, out of which, only 900 have actually been completed. So, in this country today, there are 400 irrigation projects being implemented at some critical levels of financing, and I think, really this reinforces the point that I want to make that it is really project implementation, projects under implementation, that need to be completed. You don't need a new category called 'projects under contemplation'.
Sir, so much has been said on river linking. This was made the touchstone of Indian nationalism by the NDA Government.
Sir, there is an Integrated Water Resource Development Plan. This is the Report of the National Commission for Water Resource Development set up by the Ministry of Water Resources. That submitted its Report in September, 1999. Sir, I am just reading from page 9 of its Summary. This is an official, Government of India document. This was submitted to the Ministry of Water Resources. And it is so confidential that when I asked for this Report, without casting aspersions on anybody, I should say, I got a small note from the Ministry, hand written, saying that "Volume-II is highly confidential for which a specific request has to be made, and get the written approval of the Secretary or the Minister." But I did manage to get Volume-I, which is obviously in the public domain. What does Volume-I say? Volume-I says:
"The Himalayan river linking data is not freely available, but on the basis of public information, it appears that the Himalayan river linking component is not feasible for the period of review up to 2050."
And then it goes on highlighting what the problems are in the entire plan of linking the Himalayan rivers.
As far as the Peninsular river component is concerned, the conclusion of this National Commission for Integrated Water Resources Development is that "there is no imperative necessity for massive water transfer. The assessed needs of the basins could be met from full development and efficient utilisation of intra-basic resources except in the case of Cauvery and Vaigai basins. Some water transfer from Godavari towards the south should take care of the deficit in the Cauvery and Vaigai basins."
Sir, the point which I want to make here is that the entire weight of technical opinion has been to proceed with caution on the river-linking scheme.
If you look at the actual feasibility study, one feasibility study that is actually put on the website of the Ministry, which is Ken-Betwa link for which a feasibility study has been done, even there, you will find, not only from a financial point of view, not only from a project implementation point of view, but also from a human and ecological point of view, that the implications of this river-linking scheme are going to be quite stupendous and quite enormous. Rather than making the river-linking scheme the touchstone of patriotism, rather than making the entire scheme to be the litmus test of who is Indian and who is not Indian, by these self-styled patriots, I think we should go cautiously.
On the scale and magnitude that is being talking about, I think we need to proceed with some caution; obviously, it needs to be sequenced. There may be some cases where intra-basin transfers could be financially feasible, but I do believe that in today's day and age, with today's media, with today's civil society, it is not possible for us to overlook the ecological and human population resettlement consequences of such a massive scheme. Yesterday, you would have seen in the newspapers, Sir, that there is a new study that has come out, that has called into question the utility of Bhakhra Nangal Dam. Sir, even today's day and age, I do not think that we can rush into this project oblivious of the consequences of resettlement of millions of people, and let us also face it, Sir, India's track record in resettlement and rehabilitation has been pathetic, has been poor. This is a blot on our collective conscience.
With the type of track record that we have had, if we embark on this fanciful scheme of river linking with 30 storage reservoirs involving massive displacement of people, I think, it is going to be fraught with grave consequences. Therefore, I would urge upon the Minister to follow the route that is recommended in the Common Minimum Programme,
I think it is time for us to recognise water as a national issue. Give it that status and treat all the consequences flowing from that, from a planning and from an implementation point of view.