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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 10 January, 2021

  • 16 Min Read

Interlinking of the Rivers and Ken-Betwa Project

The Ken-Betwa Link Project

  • The Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) is the River interlinking project that aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken river in MP to Betwa in UP to irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region spread across the districts of two states mainly Jhansi, Banda, Lalitpur and Mahoba districts of UP and Tikamgarh, Panna and Chhatarpur districts of MP.
  • Ken-Betwa is one of the 30 rivers interlinking projects conceived across the country.
  • The project has been delayed due to political and environmental issues
  • Ken and Betwa rivers originate in MP and are the tributaries of Yamuna.
  • Ken meets with Yamuna in the Banda district of UP and with Betwa in the Hamirpur district of UP.
  • Rajghat, Pasricha and Mattila dams are over Betwa river.
  • Ken River passes through Panna tiger reserve.

Inter-Linking of Rivers (ILR) Project

  • The ambitious project comprises 16 rivers of Himalayan origin and 14 in the peninsular region.
  • The Detailed Project Report (DPR) in respect of the Ken-Betwa Inter-State Link Project involving Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh has been completed and work on the project will begin soon.
  • Besides, the DPRs for four projects are in progress.

The meeting reviewed the status of the various ILR projects, namely

  • Ken-Betwa Link Project,
  • Cauvery (Kattalai)-Vaigai-Gundar link (IBWT),
  • Bedti-Varda link (IBWT),
  • Damanganga (Ekdare)-Godavari link (Intra-State),
  • Damanganga-Vaitarna-Godavari link (Intra-State),
  • Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada Link Projects,
  • Alternative proposal of Diversion of Godavari waters up to Cauvery basin, Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga (MSTG) link and Integration of Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project with Parbati- Kalisindh-Chambal link.
  • The status of the 47 Intra-State link proposals from nine States, besides restructuring of the National Water Development Agency, Task Force for Interlinking of Rivers and the National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA) were also discussed.

Need for Interlinking of Rivers

  • 80% of the water India receives through its annual rains and surface water flow happens over a 4-month period from June through September.
  • This spatial and time variance in the availability of natural water versus year-round demand for irrigation, drinking and industrial water creates a demand-supply gap, which can be balanced by interlinking of rivers.
  • Interlinking of rivers involves joining rivers by the network of canals and reservoirs that solves twin problems of drought and flood by maintaining a water balance between the water deficit and surplus areas.
  • Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Scheme has already interlinked the Godavari river and the Krishna river in Andhra's West Godavari district.

Advantages

  • River linking will be a solution to recurring droughts in the Bundelkhand region.
  • It will curb the rate of farmers' suicide and will ensure them a stable livelihood by providing sustainable means of irrigation (6 lakh hec of land) and reducing excessive dependence on groundwater.
  • It will not only accelerate water conservation by the construction of a multipurpose dam but will also produce 75MW of electricity and will supply drinking water to 13 lakh people.
  • Few are of the view that the introduction of a dam inside the water-scarce regions of Panna tiger reserve, will rejuvenate the forests of Panna Tiger reserve that in turn will pave the way for Rich Biodiversity in the region.
  • It will provide employment during the execution of the project.
  • The afforestation programme could be implemented on canal banks resulting in environmental improvement.
  • The communication system will improve because of canal roads and CD works raising marketing opportunities.
  • The formation of the reservoirs will help tourism development, fish and aquaculture, bird sanctuaries etc.

Concerns

  • The construction of the Daudhan dam will result in the submergence of 10% of the critical tiger habitat of MP’s Panna Tiger Reserve which will adversely affect tiger conservation efforts.
  • The height of the dam (77 meters) will affect the nesting sites of vultures.
  • The construction of one of the barrages inside the Ken Gharial Sanctuary will adversely affect the sustainability of the sanctuary.
  • Submergence by Daudhan and Makodia reservoirs will result into the displacement of 20,000 people of the Bundelkhand region and will give rise to rehabilitation issues.
  • The politicization of the Ken Betwa project is making the project more complex and resulting in further delay.
  • Because of certain environmental and wildlife conservation concerns like the passing of a project through the critical tiger habitat of Panna tiger reserve, a project is stuck in for approval from NGT and other higher authorities.
  • There is a huge economic cost attached to the project's implementation and maintenance, which has been rising due to delays in project implementation.
  • Reconstruction and rehabilitation caused due to displacement resulting from the submergence of two dams will involve social costs as well.

Conclusion

  • Ken Betwa's interlinking project can act as a boon to the water-scarce districts of the Bundelkhand region where farmers are struggling with their dependency on monsoon.
  • This can even boost the agricultural production of the area by including water-intensive, plantations and cash crops in their crop cycle which will increase the income of farmers.

Source: TH


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