Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 463–479 | Cite as

River inter linking in India: status, issues, prospects and implications on aquatic ecosystems and freshwater fish diversity

  • W. S. Lakra
  • U. K. SarkarEmail author
  • V. K. Dubey
  • R. Sani
  • A. Pandey


India is a vast country in terms of natural resources and considered one of the mega- biodiversity countries in the world. The freshwater aquatic resources of the different river basins are unevenly distributed in space and time and the country is suffering from the increasing population and shortage of all kind of natural resources like water. To fulfill the water demand and mitigate flood and drought, Indian Government has been planning a huge scheme encompassing the Himalayas and most of India, by linking all major rivers through interlinking canals systems and building several dams. Though the concept of interlinking of rivers is novel and new in India, it had rather initiated long back in other countries of ancient civilization. This is considered as one of the options to remedy spatial mismatch in water availability and demand. To overcome those, National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has taken up massive project and nearly 30 links have been proposed to interlink the major rivers. The Government of India has approved the country’s first river interlinking project on Ken–Betwa and a MOU has been signed among the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and the Union Government. The feasibility report of most of the links have been completed and detailed project reports of Ken–Betwa River link is expected to be finalized soon. Our study indicated presence of rich fish diversity and threatened fishes in river Betwa and improved aquatic environment in river Ken which makes it a high priority area in view of proposed interlinking. The current state of knowledge indicates that large dams, interbasin transfers and water withdrawal from rivers have many negative as well as positive impacts on freshwater aquatic ecosystem. As regards to the impact on fish and aquatic biodiversity, there could be positive as well as negative impacts. The present paper is aimed at explaining and synthesizing the long term plan and its implications, creating baseline database, requirement of appropriate technology, manpower and related issues especially with reference to riverine aquatic ecosystem and conservation of fish biodiversity.


River linking River basins Implication Aquatic biodiversity Fish Conservation India 



The second author is thankful to Director, NBFGR for continuous encouragement and constructive suggestions. Authors would like to thank Department of Biotechnology (DBT), govt. of India, New Delhi for financial assistance. We have been immensely benefited from the research paper titled “Proposed river linking project of India: a boon or bane to nature” published by Misra et al. (2007).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. S. Lakra
    • 1
  • U. K. Sarkar
    • 1
    Email author
  • V. K. Dubey
    • 1
  • R. Sani
    • 1
  • A. Pandey
    • 1
  1. 1.National Bureau of Fish Genetic ResourcesLucknowIndia

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