Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with six states for the construction of the Lakhwar multi-purpose project in the upper Yamuna basin to deal with water crisis.
Chief Ministers Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh, Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan, Trivendra Singh Rawat of Uttarakhand, Jai Ram Thakur of Himachal Pradesh, Manohar Lal Khattar of Haryana and Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi signed the MoU for the construction of the 204-metre high water storage project near Uttarakhand's Lohari village.
"It will create storage facilities of 330.66 million cubic metres in the upper Yamuna basin to deal with water crisis between January and June," Gadkari said.
The agreement will help conserve and utilise monsoon water that flows into the Yamuna, said the Minister, adding that 90 per cent of the project will be funded by the Centre and the remaining amount by the six states.
The total project cost is Rs 3,966.51 crore.
Gadkari said that the stored water will help irrigate 33,780 hectares of land and make available an additional 78.83 MCM of water for domestic, drinking and industrial use in the six basin states.
The Lakhwar project will also boost electricity production in Uttarakhand. The project will generate 300 megawatt power and will be executed by the Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited.
"When Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan face drinking water crisis from January to May due to water shortage in the Yamuna, the project will help maintain an optimum level to resolve drinking water problem," said the Minister.
Gadkari said that the project will also help increase the Yamuna's storage capacity by 65 per cent and that there would be no drinking water problem in the coming 20-25 years.
He urged the six states to pay attention towards such water projects that are pending for 20-25 years due to absence of agreements among them.
Referring to the partition of India, the Minister said three rivers were given to India in 1947 and pointed out that "our water is flowing into Pakistan's rivers due to lack of management".
"I think maximum water can be taken to the Yamuna to help resolve the irrigation problem in Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. I think water is a biggest problem in our country. There is no crisis of water, but the problem lies with water management."
The Lakhwar project was initially approved by the Planning Commission in 1976 and the construction started in 1987. After 30 per cent construction was done, the project work came to a halt in 1992 due to paucity of funds. In 2009, it was declared a national project.