Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday asserted that linking rivers in the country was the pressing need of the hour and said water conservation should become a national movement. The vice president laid the foundation stone for the development of an inland waterway project in Krishna river between Muktyala and Vijayawada in the Andhra Pradesh capital region of Amaravati.
He also dedicated seven national highway projects in the state to the nation while laying the foundation stone for six new projects. “It’s already late. History will not excuse us if we fail to interlink rivers to meet the growing water needs. Every state, every government and every political party should take this as a pious responsibility,” Venkaiah said while addressing a public meeting after laying the foundation stone.
“Our population is growing but our water resources are depleting. Already many rivers have dried up. Conversation and preservation of rivers and maintenance of ecological balance is a vital need now. This should in fact become a national movement,” he said. Recalling that the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee constituted a committee headed by Suresh Prabhu (now a Union minister) to recommend ways for interlinking of rivers, Naidu regretted that there had been “not a step forward” after the committee submitted its report.
“Yesterday I attended the Rally for Rivers in New Delhi. It’s not a programme of Narendra Modi, Chandrababu Naidu or Jaggi Vasudev. The government of India as well as the state governments should conserve water for the future generations,” the vice president said. Praising Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu for accomplishing interlinking of Godavari and Krishna rivers in the state, Venkaiah said Gujarat achieved this when water from Narmada was brought into Sabarmati.
“Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana have now started efforts to interlink rivers in their states,” he added. The vice president also called for linking of road networks and ports in the country for comprehensive development.
The 82-km inland waterway between Muktyala and Vijayawada is the Phase-1 of the National Waterway-4 under the Sagar Mala project and will be used mainly for transportation of cement and construction material for the new capital city Amaravati. It will also provide connectivity to important tourist and pilgrimage spots by the river.
It will have four floating terminals at tourist spots Durga Ghat and Bhavani Island in Vijayawada and pilgrimage centres Vedadri and Amaravati. The three fixed terminals at Muktyala, Ibrahimpatnam and Harishchandrapuram will handle cargo operations.
In Phase-2 of National Waterway-4, canal navigation will be developed between Vijayawada and Kakinada. The two phases, running to a length of 315 km, will cost Rs 7,015 crore.
Among the highway projects for which foundation stone has been laid today is the 17.20-km four-lane bypass road to Vizianagaram town in north coastal Andhra that will cost Rs 430 crore. The total cost of the 13 national highway projects launched today is Rs 4,153 crore. Union minister Nitin Gadkari, Andhra Governor E S P Narasimhan and Chief Minister Chandrababu were among those in attendance.