The Ken-Betwa project is part of the national river linking project which proposes to connect 14 Himalayan and 16 peninsular rivers with 30 canals and 3,000 reservoirs in order to irrigate 87 million hectares of land.
It has the status of a national project, as the Centre will contribute 90% of the cost.
It is India’s first river linking project and will take eight years to complete.
The project, the government says, will enhance the irrigation potential of the water-starved Bundelkhand region in U.P. and M.P.,
facilitate groundwater recharge and
reduce the occurrence of floods.
According to the Memorandum of Agreement signed, the to-be-built Daudhan dam is expected to irrigate nearly 6,00,000 hectares in four districts in M.P. and 2,51,000 hectares in four districts in U.P. and provide drinking water supply to 41 lakh people in M.P. and 21 lakh in U.P.
The project was on the drawing board for years mainly due to environmental concerns.
Of the 12,500 hectares of land to get submerged by the project, more than 9,000 ha are categorised asforest land.
The submergence area includes a critically important section of the Panna Tiger Reserve.
Around 40% of the area of the tiger reserve will be irretrievably damaged” if the project is implemented.
Also, the project may destroy about 7.2 lakh trees.
South Asia Network on Dams, River and People convener Himanshu Thakkar fears that this will affect rainfall in the already parched region.
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.
The Union Ministry and the National Water Development Agency, which is entrusted with the project, have some issues to sort out. These include getting