Concerns Associated to Ken-Betwa Link project

Synopsis –The Ken-Betwa link project raised serious concerns about the project’s benefits and the massive environmental impact it would have. 

Introduction-
  • 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-
  1. 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.
  2. Second, Disaster mitigation- The river linking project will be a solution to recurring droughts in the Bundelkhand region.
  3. Third, Electricity Production- The project will generate 103 MW of hydropower and provide drinking water to 62 lakh people.
Concern related to the project
  • 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.
Way forward-

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


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