Center proposes setting up of new body for river-linking projects in India


The Center has set in motion the process of creating an independent autonomous body, the National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA), to plan, investigate, finance and implement river-linking projects in the country.

NIRA, headed by a Secretary level officer to the Government of India, will replace the existing National Water Development Agency (NWDA) and will act as an umbrella body for all river-linking projects. The new body will coordinate with neighboring countries and respective states and departments and will also have powers on issues related to environment, wildlife and forest clearances under river linking projects and their legal aspects.

According to sources, the proposal for formation of NIRA was considered in the meeting of Special Committee for Interlinking of Rivers chaired by Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Friday. State Water Resources Minister, senior central officials and experts attended the meeting.

A source privy to the deliberations said, “It was discussed and agreed upon in the meeting of the Special Committee for Interlinking of Rivers. However, the minutes of the meeting have not been finalized yet. It may take 3-4 days.”

The source said the ministry will soon send a note to the Union Cabinet for approval. “The formation of NIRA through notification of approval by the cabinet would be a preferred route for its initial formation,” the source said, adding that the Ministry of Law and Justice has already given its green signal for setting up the new body. .

Task Force for Interlinking of Rivers (TFILR) has already considered the proposal for formation of NIRA on 22nd October.

Explained: Broader mandate than existing entity

NIRA shall have the power to raise funds and act as a repository of funds borrowed or money received on deposits or loans granted on interest. In addition, it will also have the right to coordinate with neighboring countries as “directed” by the Ministry of Jal Shakti or the Ministry of External Affairs. It will also have the power to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for individual link projects.