What is the “Ken-Betwa Link Project”?

What is the News?

Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh signed a memorandum of agreement to implement the Ken Betwa Link Project(KBLP).

About Ken-Betwa Link Project:
  • Ken-Betwa Link Project is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for the interlinking of rivers.
  • Under this project, water from the Ken River will be transferred to the Betwa river. Both these rivers are tributaries of the river Yamuna.

Bundelkhand region comprises 13 districts covering states Uttar Pradesh

  • This project will spread across the districts of MP and UP i.e. Tikamgarh, Panna and Chhatarpur districts of MP and in UP; Jhansi, Banda, Lalitpur and Mahoba districts.

Source: Indian Express

Phases under the Project: The Ken-Betwa Link Project has two phases.

  1. Under Phase-I,  Daudhan dam complex and Ken-Betwa link canal and Powerhouses — will be completed.
  2. Under Phase-II, three components — Lower Orr dam, Bina complex project, and Kotha barrage — will be constructed.

Benefits of the Ken-Betwa Project:

  • The project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved region of Bundelkhand spread across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
  • It will boost irrigation and provide drinking water supply to 62 lakh people. It’ll also generate 103 MW of hydropower and 27 MW of solar power.
  • It is also expected to boost socio-economic prosperity in the backward Bundelkhand region on account of increased agricultural activities and employment generation. It would also help in arresting distress migration from this region.
  • Biodiversity Concerns: The project might affect the Panna Tiger Reserve. Out of the 6,017 ha of forest area coming under the Daudhan dam of Ken Betwa Link Project, 4,206 ha of the area lies within the core tiger habitat of Panna Tiger Reserve.
  • The Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh also could not agree on how water would be shared, particularly in the non-monsoonal months. They reached an agreement in March 2021.
  • Moreover, the claims of Ken having surplus water may be unrealistic as the river is not perennial as in the past sometimes, it has slowed to a trickle.
  • Another difficulty will be that the Ken flows 60-70 feet lower than the Betwa and at least 30% of the 103 MW power generated will be used for pumping the water up.
  • A challenge to the environmental clearance given to the Ken-Betwa project is pending before the National Green Tribunal.
  • Further, the environmental impact assessment of the project, based on which the project was given environmental clearance in 2017, has been tagged as inadequate with factual errors by a number of official agencies, including the Forest Advisory Committee within the environment ministry.
About National River Linking Project(NRLP):
  • National River Linking Project (NRLP) also known as the National Perspective Plan aims to link Indian rivers by a network of reservoirs and canals.
  • Objective: The main objective is to transfer water from water ‘surplus’ basins suffering from floods to water ‘deficit’ basins suffering from drought/scarcity.
  • Prepared by: The then Ministry of Irrigation prepared this plan in August 1980.
  • Managed by: The NRLP is managed by National Water Development Agency (NWDA) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • Components: The plan proposes 30 river links to connect 37 rivers across India under two components:
    • Himalayan Rivers Development Component: Under this, 14 river links have been identified.
    • Peninsular Rivers Development Component or the Southern Water Grid: It includes 16 river links. Ken Betwa Link Project is one among them.

Source: Indian Express

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