Ken Betwa River Linking Project in News

The Indian Rivers Inter-link is a proposed large-scale civil engineering project that aims to link Indian rivers by a network of reservoirs and canals and so reduce persistent floods in some parts and water shortages in other parts of India.

The ambitious Ken-Betwa river linking project aims at addressing water needs of dry swathes in Madhya Pradesh and poll-bound Uttar Pradesh inter alia.

Ken-Betwa river linking project has now received environment, forest and tribal clearances. The environmental appraisal committee has “duly considered” and “agreed” for the project in its meeting held on 30 December, 2016.

ken betwa river link project

The phase I of the project, first ILR project, had received clearance from the Standing Committee of National Board of Wild Life in August last year. The remaining clearances, environment, forest and tribal clearances, too have been obtained, official communication regarding which though is awaited.

The phase I of the project, of linking Ken river in Madhya Pradesh and Betwa in Uttar Pradesh, at a cost of Rs 9500 crore is envisaged to help irrigate an area of 6.35 lakh hectares annually. Of this, 3.69 lakh hectares will be covered in Madhya Pradesh’s Chattarpur, Tikamgarh and Panna districts. The remaining 2.65 lakh hectares of area falls in Uttar Pradesh’s Mahoba, Banda and Jhansi districts.

The project is estimated to provide 49 million cubic metres of drinking water to a population of 13.42 lakh of people in Bundelkhand region in the two states. Besides, the project will also generate 78 mega watt of power.

Envisaged first in 1980 to transfer surplus river water to dry/arid areas, the river-linking the national perspective plan, under which Ken-Betwa river-linking project is taking shape, aims at creating additional irrigation potential of 35 million hectare and generation of 34000 mega watt of power.

Controlling flood, navigation, water supply, fisheries, salinity, drought mitigation and combating pollution are among the other stated objectives of the NPP, which gained momentum during the previous NDA regime led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

According to the Environment Ministry, Phase I of the project would result in direct loss of 58.03 sq km (10.07 %) of Critical Tiger Habitat (CTH) of Panna Tiger Reserve due to submergence, indirect loss of 105.23 sq km of CTH due to fragmentation and loss of connectivity.

But it would ensure availability of water to drought prone areas of both Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and provide irrigation to about 6 lakh hectares of land annually, and drinking water to 13.42 lakh people in the two states.

Environmentalists have alerted the government about the impact of the project on the Ken Ghariyal Sanctuary. According to the detailed project report, one of the barrages will be constructed inside the sanctuary. Project developer National Water Development Agency (NWDA), on the other hand, has repeatedly claimed that Ken Ghariyal sanctuary will benefit from the project.

The Project has drawn flak for being put up in parts, and not in its entirety, for green clearances.

Apart from the Ken-Betwa linking project, Par-Tapi-Narmada Link (to transfer water from surplus regions of Western Ghats to the dry areas of Kutch and Saurashtra and Damanganga-Pinjal link, which will provide water for the Greater Mumbai, are among the 30 such river links planned.