PUNE: The river linking project that is aimed at transferring water from surplus rivers to deficit areas, is a national necessity, Union water resources minister Harish Rawat said on Wednesday.

Rawat was at the Central Water Commission, Khadakwasla to inaugurate of the annexe building of the National Water Academy (NWA). He said, “Nearly 60% of the rainwater in our country gets wasted as it goes straight to the sea. Of the remaining 40%, we can only use 20% of it due to lack of resources. This situation can change after the river linking project,” he said.

Rawat also emphasized on the need for better flood forecasting and early warning system to deal with disasters like the one in Uttarakhand. Better coordination between state, Union government, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and the media organizations is needed to manage post disaster relief operations, he said.

Speaking at the function, Rawat said the country needed foolproof and collective measures to secure water for the future. “The country has 18% of the world’s population with only 4% of the total usable water available,” he said, adding that if water usage wasn’t planned properly, it would be difficult to cater to the country’s water needs.

The function was organized to commemorate the silver jubilee of the academy. A souvenir was also released on the occasion.

S K Srivastava, chief engineer at the NWA, said, “The academy is emerging as a centre of excellence in training water engineers. It plans joint programmes with World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) to establish it as an international centre for training on water-related issues.”