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Ken-Betwa Linking Project gets Green Nod
Jan 18, 2017

The Ken-Betwa river linking project, the country's first such project for irrigation, has been given a nod for environmental clearance (EC). First mooted in the 1980s, the project estimated to cost above Rs 10,000 crore, proposes to transfer water from Ken river basin in Madhya Pradesh to the Betwa river basin in Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh.

Salient Features

  • The union Environment Ministry's Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on river valley and hydroelectric projects recommended it for EC. 
  • In early 2016, EAC had deferred clearance as the project was not granted wildlife clearance. 
  • The wildlife nod was given in September 2016 and in the very next meeting, 
  • The project had to mandatorily receive a wildlife clearance as it is going to fragment the Panna Tiger Reserve and submerge 40 sq km of its core area. 
  • The tiger reserve had lost all its tigers in 2009 to poaching and deaths and was repopulated after a successful tiger reintroduction programme.
  • The project has already received wildlife clearance and now we are working out the funding pattern with NITI Aayog.
  • During its meeting, the EAC discussed that conditions have already been put in to mitigate impact on wildlife, and doubts regarding the hydrological feasibility have been resolved. It also said that a landscape management plan, sought by members of the previous EAC to safeguard wildlife and forest, should be delinked from the environmental clearance as it covers an area beyond Panna.
  • The EAC recommended the project for 'grant of EC' with nine specific conditions. These include the condition on 'recording the impact of project on wildlife, breeding ground of species, during the pre and post construction stages'.
  • It has also said that since 9,000 hectares will be submerged, changes in micro-climatic conditions in the area during construction and later should be documented and reported.
  • Besides the EAC's conditions, the water ministry has to abide by conditions of the National Board for Wildlife. To compensate for the loss of 40 sq km of forest in Panna reserve, it has been recommended to integrate Nauradehi, Rani Durgavati and Ranipur wildlife sanctuaries in the Panna tiger reserve.
  • The project is important for the benefit of 70 lakh people.  However, it will submerge 5,258-hectare forest land of which 4,141 hectares is in the Panna Tiger Reserve, which is home to tigers, leopards, sloth bears, endangered vultures and a dense forest. 
  • The Rs,10,000-crore Ken-Betwa river linking project aims to transfer water from the Ken river basin in Madhya Pradesh to the Betwa river basin in the parched Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. 
  • The main feature of the project is a 230-km long canal and a series of barrages and dams connecting the Ken and Betwa rivers that will irrigate 3.5 lakh hectares in Madhya Pradesh and 14,000 hectares in Uttar Pradesh. 
  • The key projects are the Makodia and Dhaudhan dams, the latter expected to be 77 metres high and responsible for submerging 5,803 hectares of tiger habitat in the Panna Tiger Reserve. 
  • While the concerned ministry had proposed 90% assistance funding by Centre for the project, Niti Ayog had recommended the project to be funded under Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) which means 60:40 Centre–State sharing. 

Importance of River Linking Projects: Interlinking of River (ILR) programme is of national importance and has been taken up on high Priority. The mission of this programme is to ensure greater equity in the distribution of water by enhancing the availability of water in drought prone and rainfed area.

Under the National Perspective Plan (NPP) prepared by Ministry of Water Resources, NWDA has already identified 14 links under Himalayan Rivers Component and 16 links under Peninsular Rivers Component for inter basin transfer of water based on field surveys and investigation and detailed studies. Out of these, Feasibility Reports of 14 links under Peninsular Component and 2 links (Indian portion) under Himalayan Component have been prepared.

The overall implementation of Interlinking of Rivers programme under National Perspective Plan would give benefits of 35 million hectares of irrigation, raising the ultimate irrigation potential from 140 million hectare to 175 million hectare and generation of 34000 Mw of power, apart from the incidental benefits of flood control, navigation, water supply, fisheries, salinity and pollution control etc.


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