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Govt sets in motion plan for interlinking of rivers, says Uma Bharati
The Government has set in motion its plan for interlinking of rivers with a target of establishing 30 links in the next 10 years. This was announced here today by Uma Bharati, Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, while inaugurating a seminar on 'Water Risks and Water Stewardship'.

The two-day seminar is organized by FICCI in association with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and 2030 Water Resources Group (WRG).

Uma Bharati stated that the river-interlinking plan has been designed keeping in mind the climate and aqua life of rivers. She added that interlinking of rivers will help in controlling floods and drought.

She said that the year 2015-16would be observed as the'Year of Water Conservation'.

Speaking on her priority project of cleaning and developing river Ganga, Uma Bharati said that she wanted to make project Ganga a role model for all other river development projects in India. The Minister said that her aim is to make Ganga, a pollution-free, clean river in the next three years and work is being done at a fast pace to achieve the target.

The Ministry has also undertaken the work of cleaning up the river Yamuna and is assisting the Delhi State authorities in driving the action plan forward.

Bharati urged the industry to present the recommendations of the seminar to her Ministry for deliberating and taking action on the proposed plans. She also exhorted to the people to take up water conservation and management work at their level.

On the river Sarasvati project, Bharati said that the aim was to locate the route of the long lost river. The river route will have a higher water table, which would be of great help to the farmers around that area.

Shekhar Kapur, films director, actor and environmental activist, underlined the problem of water scarcity and water management by narrating various stories. He stressed on his slogan 'Hum, Tum, Paani- Ek Kahaani', implying thatin our lives everything revolves around water and all our life stories are linked to water.

Dwelling on the present water scenario, Kapur said that today glaciers are retreating, resulting in flooding of rivers during monsoon and drying up of the rivers in other seasons. The situation, if not controlled now, would lead to permanent drying up of rivers and displacing population around the region which is being supported by such water sources. This could lead to social disorder, he cautioned.

Kapur said that there is sufficient water for India's consumption, and the technology and means to conserve it but what is lacking is the will to achieve the goal.

Naina Lal Kidwai, Immediate Past President FICCI and Chairman, India, Director HSBC India Pacific, said thatit is heartening to note that the new government has included water management as a priority area and FICCI looks forward to working with the Ministry in taking forward the water conservation agenda.

Highlighting FICCI's efforts in this regard, she said that FICCI Water Mission was launched in March 2011 with the objective to engage with various sectoral committees across FICCI membership in developing a water agenda around each committee. The Mission has been successful in getting representation from the various committees; members from these committees are our Water Champions driving the work of the mission.

Xavier Leflaive, Head of Water Unit, Environment Directorate, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, said, "Water is gaining political traction in India, and we think some of the work we do at the OECD on water economics and governance can inform policy debates in India and facilitate the reform of water policies."

Rana Hassan, Principal Economist, India Resident Mission, Asian Development Bank,said thatwater leaders, mangers and users need to ensure efficient water use in all sectors and carefully weigh the trade-offs between uses. In short, they must find ways to provide the right amount of water of the right quality where it is best used. Achieving this is extremely- and increasingly- complex. ADB is working in India and the Asia Pacific region to tackle the looming crisis due to increasing and changing demands for water.

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