August 6, 2002
Flood V/s Drought – A national curse
Bharat needs Bhagirath again –
An action oriented fast track proposal
With Pokhran, Golden Quadrangle and such bold initiatives, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has created tremendous self-confidence in the country and has become a symbol of vision, inspiration and implementation of mega projects. The nation looks to him to take the next bold initiative to permanently eradicate the menace of floods and drought. The time has come for him to give a call to the countrymen from the Red Fort on Independence to stand behind him for this noble cause.
“ना ही बाढ़ ना ही सूखा
पूरा करेंगे, देश का सपना”
- India faces a perennial problem of both floods and droughts. A solution suggested about 50 years ago was ignored and not implemented due to the scarcity of resources then. The Nation has been paying a heavy price all through these years.
- Water will be the most critical resource of the 21st century – India receives annual precipitation of 4000 billion cubic meters (bcm) but presently only 28% is used.
- Recession continues, new investments sluggish, employment growth less than 2%, core sector worst affected.
- Tremendous success under the Roads program has boosted demand and generated jobs.
- A National water grid be created to control and balance the collection and distribution of water across various states through a network of canals and dams.
- To provide employment for one crore people, mainly the excess rural labour and lakhs of educated professions, in the creation of infrastructure all over the country.
- Increased savings coupled with guaranteed water supply will lead to investments in mechanization, better seeds and fertilizer, ultimately adding to purchasing power in the villages.
- Project to be executed directly by the Central Government by setting up a national water grid authority on the lines of the National Highway Authority of India.
- The entire water resources of the nation can be available for transfer from flood prone areas to drought prone areas such that there is always adequate water all-around.
- Massive data on the subject is available with our institutions and research bodies for the development of the National Water Grid with a network of canals, reservoirs and small and medium dams.
- With this data and using GIS technology this project must be kick-started in a short period of time at thousands of different locations eventually converging into an integrated water grid.
- Considering enormous calamities caused by floods, it is suggested to take chronic flood prone areas in the first phase.
- Initial capital to be provided by the Central Government.
- Issue of tax-free long term Infrastructure Bonds.
- Borrowings from cash rich Indian banks and financial institutions.
- Global funding agencies like Asian Development Bank, World Bank, international trusts and pension funds; also from NRI’s through second series of Resurgent India Bonds.
- Revenue from sale of water, hydel power and use of inland waterways.
- The project would pump-prime the economy envisaging investment of nearly Rs. 3 to 5 lakh crore (US $ 60 -100 Billion) – to be executed on fast tract basis in three stages of 30 to 40 months each.
- Such massive and speedy spending will generate huge demand for steel, cement, transport, capital goods, etc. and in turn will also increase government revenue collections.
- Hydel Power generation can be increased at various locations through small power plants to feed local requirements at low cost without much transmission and distribution losses.
- Inland waterways can be created providing environment – friendly and cheaper means of transport for men and materials.
- Revival of industry will reduce Bank NPA’s.
6th August, 2002