Ken-Betwa Link Project
Context: January 18, the Steering Committee of the Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) held its third meeting in New Delhi. It was chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Water Resources, in the Ministry of Jal Shakti, who reiterated that KBLP was a “flagship” project of the national government and that it “is critical for the water security and socio-economic development of Bundelkhand region”.
About the Project
- In December 2021, the Union Cabinet approved KBLP at a total cost of Rs 44,605 crore. In this project, the national and the Madhya Pradesh governments will link the Ken River with the Betwa river so that the latter can water the Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh.
- The Ken River is one of the major rivers in the Bundelkhand region of central India and flows through the states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. It is a tributary of the Yamuna.
- The Betwa is a river in Central and Northern India, and a tributary of the Yamuna. It rises in the Vindhya Range just north of Narmadapuram 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.
What is the Ken-Betwa link?
- The National Perspective Plan (NPP) was prepared by the then Ministry of Irrigation (now Ministry of Jal Shakti) in August 1980 for water resources development through inter basin transfer of water, for transferring water from water surplus basins to water-deficit basins. Under the NPP, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has identified 30 links (16 under Peninsular Component & 14 under Himalayan Component) for preparation of Feasibility Reports
- The NPP comprises two components – the Himalayan Rivers Development and Peninsular Rivers Development.
- The Ken-Betwa link project (KBLP) is the first river interlinking project, among the 16 similar projects planned under the Peninsular Rivers Development of the NPP.
- It will connect the tributaries of the Yamuna River, namely the Ken River in the Panna district of Madhya Pradesh and the Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh.
Ken Betwa river linking project: Benefits
- The government envisions the programme of interlinking of rivers as a top priority, towards sustainable development of water resources in India.
- The Ken Betwa link project has been planned as a multi-purpose project, for providing several benefits in terms of better utilisation of water resources and addressing the water scarcity in several parts of the Bundelkhand region.
- The region is prone to recurring drought conditions that have impacted socio-economic development in the area. Moreover, owing to the hard rock and marginal alluvium terrain, the location is not rich in groundwater. Hence, the Ken Betwa River project will help in utilising the floodwater during monsoon and stabilise the availability of water during lean months, especially in drought years.
- The project linking Ken and Betwa river will also provide annual irrigation and hydropower generation. The districts that will benefit from the Ken betwa link pariyojna include Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri, Raisen and Panna in Madhya Pradesh and Jhansi, Mahoba, Banda and Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh. As many as 62 lakh people in the Bundelkhand region will also experience improved drinking water supply due to the project
Concerns raised over the environmental impact of the project
- While the Ken Betwa River interlinking project is expected to resolve the water problems in the drought-prone locations, many environment activists have expressed concerns over the impact it will have on the Panna Tiger Reserve.
- Over 46 lakh trees are likely to be felled due to the construction work within the national park. The tiger reserve is home to many critically endangered wildlife species. Moreover, the development of the Ken Betwa River interlinking project is also expected to result in the submergence of 6,017 hectares of forest land under the Daudhan dam of the KBLP.