Ganga Cauvery project by Dr. K.L.Rao (1972)

Dr K L Rao, the irrigation Minister observed that Floods in the year 1965, 1966, 1967, in north i.e. Assam, West Bengal and Bihar where as the entire southern including part of Maharashtra   suffering from Drought. He came up an Idea of carrying the floodwater to south through the system of Dams and canals water conceived.

Dr. Rao worked on this theory and in the year 1972, he revealed the plan for transporting the surplus water from Ganga right up to the Cauvery in south. His plan envisaged a Ganga-Cauvery link taking off near Patna and passing, en route, through the basins of the Sone, the Narmada, the Tapti, the Godavari, the Krishna, and the Pennar, before joining the Cauvery upstream of the Grand Anicut.

        Based on some earlier work in the Central Water Commission, proposed a National Water Grid for providing navigation and ameliorating spatial disparities between river basins. The 2,640 km link involved withdrawal of 1,680 M{+3}/S (60,000 cusecs) of flood flows from the Ganga for about 150 days a year. That is , to transport 60,000 cusec of monsoon flow in Ganga from near Patan for 05 months in a year to south via a Series of Dam and Canal making use of existing rivers enroute.

His Idea was to push back water from Ganga along sone (near Patna) and then put across the kaimur range of vindyas by pumping. The water would fall into Narmada and then through Canals into the Wainganga River joining Penganga, Pranhita, Godavari, Krishna then to Pennas and finally to cauvery.

However, a detailed examination later revealed that the proposal was very expensive and lower-cost alternatives were available.

Challenges in implementing this Propasals

However, the master plan is not without its share of problems. Some of the problems are listed below. Construction of big dams may require large-scale felling, and cause earthquakes. . In the eventuality of very adverse ecological effects, the possibility of constructing a chain of small dams should be examined. The people affected by the construction of dams will have to be rehabilitated.

  • It has been reported that at one place there will be a need to pump water to a higher place. In such a case, the installation of a captive power station at this place has to be examined.
  • The power requirement for lifting the water was huge, estimated to be 5000 to 7000 MW, for irrigating an additional area of 4 million hectares only.
  •  Dr. K.L. Rao’s  Proposal (1972), which had  2640 km. long  Ganga – Cauvery link as its main component involved large scale pumping over a head of 550 m.

Dr. Rao had estimated this proposal to cost about Rs. 12,500 crores, which at 2002 price level comes to about Rs. 1,50,000 crores.  The Central Water Commission, which examined the proposal, found it to be grossly under estimated and economically prohibitive. The scheme was also not having any flood control benefit.