The interlinking of rivers can provide viable solutions to the multi-dimensional inter-related problems of droughts, floods, and interrupted navigation. Critically examine.

The interlinking of rivers can provide viable solutions to the multi-dimensional inter-related problems of droughts, floods, and interrupted navigation. Critically examine. (Answer in 250 words) 15


  • Introduction:
    • Initiate by highlighting the fundamental purpose of river interlinking in India, emphasizing its proposed role in mitigating droughts, managing floods, and resolving navigation challenges.
  • Body:
    • Enumerate the anticipated advantages, including relief from droughts, flood management, improved navigation, and other benefits articulated in the National Perspective Plan.
    • Explain the fundamental concept underpinning river interlinking, emphasizing the treatment of river basins as distinct entities and elucidating the theoretical advantages of this strategy.
    • Explore the recent Nature Communications study, offering a critical analysis that challenges prior assumptions, discussing:
  • Observations indicating altered monsoon patterns due to interlinking initiatives.
  • The newfound interconnectedness of river basins, debunking the previously held isolated perspective.
  • Broader ecological impacts extending beyond monsoon patterns, influencing the entire ecosystem.
  • Highlight the potential adverse consequences and implications of the river interlinking projects, emphasizing the necessity for a comprehensive reassessment.
  • Conclusion:
    • Conclude by underscoring the critical need for a comprehensive understanding of the intricate hydro-meteorological systems, emphasizing the significance of informed decision-making in the realm of river interlinking.


The concept of river interlinking in India has been presented as a holistic remedy to tackle the concurrent issues of droughts, floods, and disrupted navigation. This ambitious infrastructural undertaking aims to redirect excess water from one river basin to regions facing water scarcity in another basin. Nonetheless, recent research highlights certain potential adverse effects that demand a more thorough examination.


Perceived Advantages of River Interlinking:

  • Mitigating Drought: Initiatives like the Ken-Betwa link have been advocated as a means to transfer surplus water, offering a potential remedy for regions susceptible to drought.
  • Flood Management: Interlinking could potentially diminish the severity of floods by redistributing excess water to areas requiring it.
  • Improved Navigability: Sustained water flow supports the smoother navigation of rivers.
  • Additional Benefits: The National Perspective Plan (NPP) outlines supplementary merits, including expanded irrigated regions, increased hydropower production, employment opportunities, salinity regulation, and pollution mitigation.

The Foundational Assumption:

  • At the core of the concept of river interlinking lies the notion of treating river basins as isolated entities, implying that their functioning would not substantially impact neighboring basins or the broader ecosystem.
  • The envisioned transfer of water from surplus basins, such as the Godavari, to deficient ones, like the Cauvery, assumes that it would not simply dissipate into the Arabian Sea or the Bay of Bengal. The theoretical premise is that this strategy could potentially fulfill India’s mounting water requirements.

Questioning the Assumption – Insights from the Nature Communications Study:

  • Altered Monsoon Dynamics:
    • The implementation of inter-basin transfers and the subsequent surplus irrigation have caused alterations in the patterns of the summer monsoon. Notably, there has been an observable 12% reduction in average September rainfall in already water-scarce arid regions.
  • Interconnectedness of River Basins:
    • Contrary to the notion of isolated river basins, they have been found to be interconnected through intricate feedback loops between the land and the atmosphere. Consequently, changes in one basin could potentially impact neighboring basins. For instance, alterations in the Ganga basin may affect cloud formations over regions surrounding the Mahanadi basin.
  • Implications Beyond the Monsoon Season:
    • The surplus irrigation has contributed to a decline in soil moisture, leading to decreased rainfall and heightened temperatures across central India, particularly evident during La Niña years.
  • Ecological Ramifications:
    • Deviation from natural flow patterns could have profound ecological implications, including effects on aquatic systems and the diversity of fish species.

Significant Ramifications:

  • Disrupted Hydro-meteorological Dynamics: The modifications can potentially render the interlinking endeavors counterproductive, intensifying water scarcity concerns.
  • Potential Redundancy of Projects: Diminished precipitation resulting from altered monsoon patterns could lead to the desiccation of rivers post-monsoon, ultimately compromising the efficacy of the interlinking projects.


Despite the potential promise that river interlinking holds for addressing several of India’s critical water-related issues, it is clear that a more comprehensive comprehension of the intricate hydro-meteorological systems and their reactions to such interventions is essential. Striking a delicate equilibrium between fulfilling water requirements and upholding ecological sustainability is paramount. Policymakers must thoroughly assess the possible enduring consequences of such initiatives, ensuring that the solutions of today do not transform into the predicaments of tomorrow.

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