Ken-Betwa project hangs on forest nod

The Betwa in Madhya Pradesh.  

The Rs. 9,000-crore Ken-Betwa river-interlinking project, which will partly submerge the Panna tiger reserve, may be delayed after a key Environment Ministry body tasked with giving it forest clearance has deferred it at least until January, two people familiar with the process told The Hindu.

The project will submerge 6,221 hectares of land— 4,141 hectares of it is core forest inside the reserve. The Forest Advisory Committee’s clearance is required for this diversion of forest land.

Depending on whether a project takes over land in wildlife sanctuaries or notified forest land, it requires separate wildlife, forest and environment clearances. “There was a only a 20-minute presentation by the project proponents, which is too little to deliberate on a such a large project,” said a person familiar with the clearance process. “A site visit is required and it should take another month at least.”

The main feature of the project is a 230-km canal and a series of barrages and dams connecting the Ken and the Betwa to irrigate 3.5 lakh hectares in Madhya Pradesh and 14,000 hectares in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh.

Tiger reserve to be hit

The key components are the Makodia and the Dhaudhan dams, the latter expected to be 77 metres high, which will submerge 5,803 hectares of tiger habitat in the tiger reserve.

Chhatarpur, Panna, Tikamgarh, Raisen, and Vidisha districts of Madhya Pradesh and Mahoba, Jhansi and Banda districts of Uttar Pradesh will benefit from irrigation, domestic and industrial water supply and power generation, says a project report of the Water Ministry. On the other hand, 6,388 people will be affected as water from the Daudhan reservoir will submerge 10 villages and 13,499 in 28 villages will be affected by submergence caused by the Makodia reservoir. They will have to be resettled.

Seventeen lakh residents of nearby towns and villages in both States will benefit from improved drinking water supply and irrigation, the report added.

The Ken-Betwa project is the template for the Union government’s stated plan to transfer water across river basins. Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti has said that she would go on a hunger strike if environmental clearances impeded the project.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 4:53:19 AM |

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