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Synopsis –The Ken-Betwa link project raised serious concerns about the project’s benefits and the massive environmental impact it would have.
- On World Water Day (March 22nd), MP and UP signed a tripartite agreement with the Centre to introduce the Ken-Betwa link Project (KBLP).
- But the project will have a significant environmental impact, and its benefits are uncertain.
- The project would be wasting significant sums of public funds. Whereas the project will do little to address Bundelkhand’s water shortages.
What is KEN-Betwa Project?
The Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken river in MP to Betwa in UP. It will provide water to irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand area, which is spread across two states’ districts.
- Ken-Betwa Link Project is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for the interlinking of rivers.
- The central government has proposed a 90:10 funding pattern for the Ken Betwa Interlinking Project. The centre bearing 90 percent of the total estimated cost.
Advantage of Interlining of Ken-Betwa Rivers-
- First, Irrigation – The project will provide sustainable means of irrigation water to the Bundelkhand region in U.P. and M.P. It will reduce excessive dependence on groundwater.
- The to-be-built Daudhan dam will irrigate nearly 6,00,000 hectares in four districts in M.P. and 2,51,000 hectares in four districts in U.P.
- Second, Disaster mitigation- The river linking project will be a solution to recurring droughts in the Bundelkhand region.
- Third, Electricity Production- The project will generate 103 MW of hydropower and provide drinking water to 62 lakh people.
- First, Environmental concern-
- The 12,500 hectares of land will submerge by the project.
- The project would harm Panna tiger reserve. It will cause irreversible damage to around 40% of the tiger reserve’s area.
- Disrupting ecosystems – Approximately 7.2 lakh trees will cut down. This will have an impact on the rainfall of the region.
- Second, The project is not economically viable-
- In the past few years, the river did not always flow in a steady stream.
- There is a significant financial expense associated with project implementation and maintenance. It is increasing as a result of project delays.
- Another challenge would be that the Ken River flows 60-70 feet lower than the Betwa River. It requires at least 30% of the 103 MW produced power to pump the water up.
- Third, Clearance issue- The Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee, which had raised questions about the Ken-Betwa project, did not issue a clearance.
The sustainable and cost-effective alternatives to the Ken-Betwa project have not been considered.
- Government should consider multiple water-harvesting and water-conservation methods. It could adequately store and efficiently make use of rainfall the region receives annually, without the need for building a reservoir and dam.
Source – The Hindu