India’s Epic River-Diversion Dream Gets New Life

Picture man-made tributaries being carved across the U.S. to reroute some of the Colorado River’s water to the Rio Grande, and divert parts of the Columbia to the Missouri, the Yellowstone to the Snake, the Mississippi to the Chattahoochee, the Potomac to the Susquehanna …  

You get an idea of what India is now seriously debating.  

The government of Narendra Modi has revived a decades’-old dream to dig 9,000 miles of new canals, and create thousands of dams and reservoirs, to connect 37 major Indian rivers across vast parts of the world’s seventh largest country.  

The goal is simple: redirect water from flooding parts of India to areas battling drought; create new irrigated farmland from dry plains; and bring water to millions of chronically parched people.  

But critics call it simplistic, with scant scientific support for what would be among the most ambitious infrastructure projects ever attempted. If completed, a process that could take a half a century, the Inter-Basin Water Transfer Program would literally remap the riparian features of India.  

In an in-depth report we published today, Bloomberg BNA special correspondent Madhur Singh in Chandigarh, India, talks to those who see the plan as a logical answer to one of India’s most vexing questions: How will the country feed (and water) a booming Indian population?  

Others she spoke to see in the plan a recipe for international tensions, and potentially an environmental disaster in waiting.  

The graphic that accompanies Madhur’s story, shown here, is used with permission of India Today, which recently published its own examination of the project. 

India River Interlinking