Bhopal, April 9 (IANS) Pumping of Narmada’s water into Kshipra river will allow millions of pilgrims to Simhasth Kumbh in Ujjain district to take a holy bath this month, but environmentalist Rajendra Singh is shaking his head in demurral.
“The river-linking project has endangered the flow, the drainage, the biodiversity, the very nature of Kshipra,” ‘Waterman’ Rajendra Singh told IANS here.
Madhya Pradesh government says the Rs.432 crore project has alleviated the water crisis in the parched Malwa region, particularly Dewas, Indore and Ujjain districts, and has given a new lease of life to Kshipra river.
The project involves releasing five cusecs of Narmada river water from Omkareshwar irrigation project into Kshipra river near village Ujjaini in Indore district.
From there, Narmada water flows into Kshipra river for 115 km to reach Ujjain where Simhasth Kumbh pilgrimage is being held from April 22 to May 21.
Water is lifted up to 348 meter height during its course with the help of lift irrigation pumps installed at four places.
The project, upon completion, will allow irrigation of 17 lakh hectares of arable land, provide drinking water to 70 towns and 3000 villages, and allow industry to come up in the Malwa region, says the state government.
It’s the ‘industry’ — of all of the government’s promises — that Rajendra Singh believes is the object of the exercise.
“Simhasth Kumbh provides the occasion to sanction public funds, but the overall purpose is to provide water to the big industrialists,” he said.
Kshipra should be revived by recharging upstream aquifers with rainwater rather than employing “unnatural” means of pumping Narmada’s water into it, said Rajendra Singh who won the Stockholm Water Prize in 2015.
“The health of both the body and flow of Kshipra can be restored by digging deep wells at spots where the river meanders. These wells will collect rainwater, recharge aquifers and maintain adequate flow in the river,” he added.