NIRA formal announcement likely soon

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The Ministry of Jal Shakti is likely to make official announcements of National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA) and Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the Ken Betwa interlinking project.

The sub-committee for restructuring of the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) had last year suggested the formation of a NIRA like set up. After all, NWDA is an agency and with restructuring, an ‘Authority’ with powers is envisaged.

The NWDA would be subsumed in NIRA. We have moved the cabinet note from our side,” confirmed a senior official of the Ministry of Jal Shakti.

NIRA would be an overarching body, autonomous in functions for planning and would act as the nodal body for the projects related to interlinking of rivers across the country.

Implementation of the interlinking of rivers projects is happening with funding at the ratio of 90:10 (Centre: State). NIRA would be responsible for looking after and procuring finance from central and state governments, multi-lateral financial institutions such as World Bank, ADB, JICA, BRICS bank etc.

As announced earlier, there would be a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for each of the interlinking projects.

“For the SPV to materialise, agreements amongst the states involved is a must. As on date, we only have an agreement between Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh vis-A-vis Ken Betwa project, so in all likelihood, we will be announcing the SPV for Ken Betwa project soon,” the official said.

However, the official declined to put a date to it. Sources in the Ministry said, the announcement will be made before the Election Commission announced the dates for the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh as then the model code of conduct would kick in and no announcements would be possible. Polls are due in Uttar Pradesh early next year.

When asked if the SPV would be announced even before the project gets all the statutory clearances, the official said, “We are parallelly working on it too.”

Mired in controversy for years, the Ken Betwa interlinking of rivers has still not received three major clearances. The environmental clearance was challenged and is pending at the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The stage II (final) Forest Clearance and subsequent state approval, in this case from the Madhya Pradesh government, is pending. And last, but never the least, the Central Empowered Committee, appointed by the Supreme Court, has submitted the report to the apex with its objections to the wildlife clearance, the court is yet to give its say on it.

20211208-153600

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