Ken-Betwa River Linking Project

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    In News

    • The Union Cabinet approved the funding and implementation of Ken-Betwa inter-linking of rivers project with a total cost of Rs 44,605 crore. The project has a deadline of eight years.

    About the Project

    • History: After coming to power in 1999, the then-prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, set up a task force to accelerate the project.
    • Aim of the project: Transferring of water from the Ken River to the Betwa River through the construction of Daudhan dam and a canal linking the two rivers, the Lower Orr Project, Kotha Barrage and the Bina Complex Multipurpose Project.
    • 1st centrally-driven river interlinking project: It is the first major centrally-driven river interlinking project in the country between Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
    • Tributaries of river Yamuna: Both these rivers are tributaries of river Yamuna.
    • Ken-Betwa Link Project Authority (KBLPA): A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Ken-Betwa Link Project Authority (KBLPA) will be set up to implement the project.
    • Beneficiaries: This project will provide enormous benefits to the districts of Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri and Raisen of Madhya Pradesh and Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi & Lalitpur of Uttar Pradesh.

    Source: NWDA

    Previous examples of river-linking in India

    • Periyar Project: In the past, several river linking projects have been taken up. For instance, under the Periyar Project, transfer of water from Periyar basin to Vaigai basin was envisaged.
      • It was commissioned in 1895.
    • Other projects: Similarly, other projects such as Parambikulam Aliyar, Kurnool Cuddapah Canal, Telugu Ganga Project, and Ravi-Beas-Sutlej were undertaken.

    Significance of the project

    • Benefit to the water-starved Bundelkhand region: The project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved Bundelkhand region, spread across the states of MP and UP.
      • The project is 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.
    • Pave the way for more interlinking of river projects: The project will pave the way for more interlinking of river projects in India and also showcase to the world our ingenuity and vision.
    • Irrigation and Drinking water: The project will provide an annual irrigation of 10.62 lakh ha, drinking water supply to a population of about 62 lakhs and also generate 103 MW of hydropower and 27 MW solar power
    • Environment management and safeguards: This project also comprehensively provides for environment management and safeguards.
      • For this purpose a comprehensive landscape management plan is under finalization by Wildlife Institute of India.

    Issues/ Challenges

    • Submerge the Panna Tiger Reserve: The project will partly submerge the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and affect the habitat of vultures and jackals.
      • After years of protests, it was finally cleared by the apex wildlife regulator, the National Board for Wildlife, in 2016.
    • Water sharing issue: Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh could not agree on how water would be shared, particularly in the non-monsoonal months.
    • The environmental clearance was challenged: It is pending at the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
    • No mention of CEC report: The Central Empowered Committee, appointed by the Supreme Court, has submitted the report to the apex court with its objections to the wildlife clearance – the court is yet to give its say on it.
    • Destruction of forest and ecosystem: According to the report of a sub-committee of the Forest Advisory Committee, at least 23 lakh trees will need to be cut down for the implementation of Ken-Betwa Link Project.
      • The forest land that the KBLP proposes to submerge is a unique ecosystem of morphological significance with a unique and rich biodiversity in the region which cannot be recreated.
    • Incorrect estimates: The government claims that a total of 9.04 lakh hectares of land will be irrigated owing to the KBLP.
      • However, the CEC said that there are 11 major/medium and 171 minor irrigation projects already in place in the Ken basin and the goal of the KBLP can be met simply by expanding the capacity of these ongoing projects.

    Way Forward

    • Need of a fresh detailed report: The project would need a fresh detailed report and a landscape management plan.
    • Local irrigation means should be exhausted first: Several experts are of the view that local irrigation means should be exhausted before the government embarks on such a mammoth project.
      • Apna taalab abhiyan in Banda
      • Awartansheel Kheti
    • Need of rainwater harvesting: The two, when combined, propagate the idea that rainwater should be harvested and organic farming practised.
    • Creation of lakes: This entails creating lakes and producing local cereals, crops, and fruit.

     

    National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA)

    • The Ministry of Jal Shakti is likely to announce this.
    • It will restructure the National Water Development Agency (NWDA), with powers envisaged.
    • NIRA is to function as an autonomous body.

    National Perspective Plan (NNP)

    • It is for the water resources development envisaging inter-basin water transfer in the country.
    • The NPP comprised two components:
      • Himalayan Rivers Development
      • Peninsular Rivers Development
    • Based on the NPP, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) identified 30 river links 16 under peninsular component and 14 under Himalayan Component.
    • Later, the river linking idea was revived under the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government.
    • Ken Betwa Link Project is one of the 16 river linking projects under the peninsular component.

    Ken and Betwa Rivers

    • The Ken originates from the Kaimur hills of Katni district in Madhya Pradesh and joins the river Yamuna near Chilla village in Banda district of Uttar Pradesh.
      • Ken River passes through Panna tiger reserve.
    • The Betwa rises in the Vindhya Range just north of Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh and flows northeast through Madhya Pradesh and Orchha to Uttar Pradesh.
      • Nearly half of its course, which is not navigable, runs over the Malwa Plateau.
      • The Indian navy named one of its frigates INS Betwa in honour of the river.

    Panna National Park

    • It is a national park located in Panna and Chhatarpur districts of Madhya Pradesh in India.
    • It was declared in 1994 as the twenty-second Tiger reserve of India and the fifth in Madhya Pradesh.
    • Panna was given the Award of Excellence in 2007 as the best maintained national park of India by the Ministry of Tourism of India.
    • Among the animals found here are the tiger, leopard, chital, chinkara, nilgai, sambhar and sloth bear.

    Source: IE