Ken-Betwa River Linking Project

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Ken-Betwa River Linking Project

It was a normal Monday afternoon until, Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat signed a tripartite agreement with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give green light to the India’s first river interlinking project. The memorandum of agreement was signed on the occasion of World Water Day on 22nd of March 2021 through a video conference and paves the way for  implementation of the Ken-Betwa River Linking Project in drought-prone region of Bundelkhand.

Key highlights of the blog are :-

  • What Is Ken-Betwa River Linking Project ?
  • Key Details Of The Project : The Estimated Cost, The Duration And The Sharing Of Cost
  • The Regions Benefitting Out Of Ken Betwa River Linking Project
  • The Quantum Of Water That Madhya Pradesh And Uttar Pradesh Will Get From Ken Betwa River Linking Project
  • Concerns And Criticisms
  • The Bottom Line

What Is Ken-Betwa River Linking Project ?

With memorandum of agreement being signed on 22nd of March, 2021, the Ken-Betwa River Linking Project becomes the first project under the National Perspective Plan for interlinking of rivers. Under this project, water will be transferred from one tributary of the Yamuna river to the other tributary of the Yamuna river i.e. from the Ken River to the Betwa River.

The project will be completed in two phases. Under phase I, one of the components — Daudhan dam complex and its appurtenances like Low Level Tunnel, High Level Tunnel, Ken-Betwa link canal and Power houses will be completed. And, under phase II, the other three components — Lower Orr dam, Bina complex project and Kotha barrage will be constructed.

The Prime Minister was also present in the video conference while the Memorandum of agreement was signed and he did not hesitate saying a few words to address the people on this event. Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the agreement was important to realize former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s dream in the interest of millions of families in UP and MP. He added that the vision of India’s development and self-reliance is dependent on water resources and connectivity.

Benefits Of Ken Betwa River Linking Project

India’s first river linking project under the National Perspective Plan, have grabbed the attention of people in India and across the globe ever since the Memorandum of agreement have been signed by Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a digital conference on March 22, 2021. Once completed, the Ken Betwa River Linking Project is expected to provide the following benefits.

The benefits are as follows :-

  • The project will provide an annual irrigation of 10.6 lakh hectares of land i.e. 1 lakh hectare in Madhya Pradesh and 2.5 lakh hectare in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The project will provide a drinking water supply to a population of about 62 lakh i.e. 41 lakh in Madhya Pradesh and 21 lakh in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The project will also generate 103 MW of hydro power and 27 MW of solar power.

Key Details Of The Project : The Estimated Cost, The Duration And The Sharing Of Cost

Ever since the tripartite agreement has been signed between the Ministry Of Jal Shakti and the chief ministers of the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh on 22nd of March 2021, the people have been growing inquisitive to know and understand the key details such as the estimated cost to be incurred, the time it will take to develop the project and how the cost of India’s first river linking project under the National Perspective Plan will be shared.

The Estimated Cost

Receiving green signal on 22nd of April,2021, the Ken Betwa River Linking Project is a project of linking of two rivers from two different states to combat situations like drought and channelize surplus water to water deficit areas. Being India’s first river linking project under the National Perspective Plan, the cost of  Ken Betwa River Linking Project is estimated at Rs 37,611 crore at 2019-20 prices, according to Comprehensive Detailed Project Report.

The Duration Of The Project

The Ken Betwa River Linking Project is first of its kind and will have a significant impact once completely developed. However, it is a huge project and the two phases are estimated to be complete in a span of eight years.

The Sharing Of Cost

Currently, The Ministry of Jal Shakti is trying its best to receive the Public Investment Board’s approval which will render the Ken Betwa River Linking Project as a national project, following which 90% of the cost will be covered by the Centre while remaining 10% will be shared by the states.  

The Regions Benefitting Out Of Ken Betwa River Linking Project

The Ken Betwa River Linking Project lies in the drought prone region of Bundelkhand and aims to channelize surplus water to the water deficit areas to combat drought like situations. Thus, India’s first river linking project under the National Perspective Plan is of immense benefit to the thirteen water starved  which are spread across the states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

According to the Jal Shakti Union, spread across two states, the following thirteen districts will be immensely benefitted from the Ken Betwa River Linking Project. The districts are as follow :-

Serial Number Name Of District Name Of State
1. Panna Madhya Pradesh
2. Tikamgarh Madhya Pradesh
3. Chhatarpur Madhya Pradesh
4. Sagar Madhya Pradesh
5. Damoh Madhya Pradesh
6. Datia Madhya Pradesh
7. Vidisha Madhya Pradesh
8. Shivpuri Madhya Pradesh
9. Raisen Madhya Pradesh
10. Banda Uttar Pradesh
11. Mahoba Uttar Pradesh
12. Jhansi Uttar Pradesh
13. Lalitpur Uttar Pradesh

The Quantum Of Water That Madhya Pradesh And Uttar Pradesh Will Get From Ken Betwa River Linking Project

The Memorandum of agreement which was signed on 22nd of March, 2021 by the Union Jal Shakti Minister and the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh respectively, clearly lays down the  quantum of water to be drawn by each state. According to the memorandum, of the over 6,590 mcm (million cubic metres) annual yield in Ken basin up to Daudhan Dam, Madhya Pradesh shall utilize a total of 2,350 million cubic metres only. On the other hand, Uttar Pradesh shall get and manage it’s requirements within 1,700 million cubic metres only.

The memorandum also clearly lays down the amount of water that will be released to each of these states. During the lean season i.e. from November to May, the water released to Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh from the storage in Daudhan reservoir shall be 1,834 million cubic metres and 750 million cubic metres, respectively.

Concerns And Criticisms

The Ken Betwa River Linking Project which aims to channelize surplus water to the water starved regions of Bundelkhand in order to combat drought like situations have been severely criticized from environmentalists and wildlife conservationists ever since it’s received union cabinet’s approval in July, 2014. Following were the concerns of the conservation activists regarding the Ken Betwa River Linking Project which obstructed the work and hindered the river linking project to get off the board :-

  • Adverse Impact On Tiger Reserves And Wildlife Sanctuaries

Nearly 8,650 hectares of forest land including part of Panna National Park in Madhya Pradesh will be submerged if the project comes into reality. This will have an adverse impact on tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries in the region.

  • Loss Of Biodiversity And Ecological Impact

The adverse impact on tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries in the region would also lead to loss of bio diversity, if the project comes into existence. On top of it, ecology will also be disturbed which can have severe consequences in the long run.

Despite the criticisms and concerns, the project required National Board For Wildlife (NBWL)’s clearance for its implementation. Amidst the concerns, The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) had given clearance to this project but with a few conditions. The conditions laid highlight the diversion of forest land from the core area of the Panna Tiger Reserve which was primarily included for the project.

The conditions laid by NBWL are :-

  • To compensate for the loss of tiger habitat and to complete the ban of fresh mining lease in the area, the sanctuaries of Ranipur and Rani Durgavati were to be integrated with the Panna Tiger Reserve.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) would handle the landscape plan for the area with the help of the Wildlife Institute of India.

The Bottom Line

Wrapping it up, all I would say is the Ken Betwa River Linking Project is India’s first river linking project and is one of its kind. Not only does it, channelize the surplus water to the water deficit areas of Bundelkhand, thereby combating drought like situations, but if properly implemented it will also pave the way for more interlinking of river projects to ensure that scarcity of way does not come in way of nation’s development.

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