The Ken Betwa river interlinking project may yet see delays and a price escalation even as the two States involved, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, have reportedly resolved differences over the execution of the project.
The KBP, a two-part, ₹18,000-crore project, is the first river interlinking project and perceived by the government as a model plan for similar interstate river transfer missions.
Phase-1 involves building a 77 m tall and a 2 km wide dam, called the Dhaudhan dam, and a 230 km long canal to transfer extra water from the Ken river and irrigate 3.64 lakh hectares in the Bundelkhand region of U.P. and Madhya Pradesh
Originally, this phase envisaged irrigating 6,35,661 ha annually (3,69,881 ha in M.P. and 2,65,780 ha in U.P.). In addition, Originally, the project was to provide 49 million cubic meter (MCM) of water for en-route drinking water supply. This would require, according to the Centre’s calculations, M.P. getting 1,687 MCM (million cubic metre) and Uttar Pradesh, 1,700 MCM. The blueprint was, however, drawn up in 2005 under the assumption that constructing the Dhaudhan would mean that 4,364 MCM would be available for allocation.
However, said official representatives from the Madhya Pradesh government, only about 962 MCM was effectively available today. To make up for the reduced water flow, said M.P., in a letter to the Centre earlier this year, said it wanted to include certain local water management projects — Kotha barrage, Lower Orr and Bina complex that were envisaged in the second phase of the project — in the first phase.
Earlier too the KBP had run into a thicket of environmental problems — mainly of partially submerging the Panna tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh — but it got an environmental clearance and was awaiting a go-ahead from M.P.
Now, it emerges, both States have agreed to stick to the original water-share plan provided they get additional funds for implementing micro-irrigation projects said a source, requesting anonymity. Two months ago, Water Minister Nitin Gadkari claimed that Gujarat and Maharashtra have “resolved” their differences but without divulging how. “There will be a meeting between the States later this month but this could mean that some clearances may need to be applied for again and costs could rise, in the range of say 100s of crores,” the same person added.