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The issues raised by the Madhya Pradesh government in connection with the Ken-Betwa river- linking project will be resolved in the next three-four days, paving the way for an agreement between the Centre and the state on executing the project, Union minister Nitin Gadkari has said. The ambitious project, which has received almost all the major clearances, had hit a roadblock last year after Madhya Pradesh, one of the two beneficiary states, objected to it. The Madhya Pradesh government had allegedly warned that the first phase of the project would not be allowed to take off if it was not reworked to incorporate three other smaller projects of phase II -- the Lower Orr dam, the Bina complex and the Kotha barrage -- into it. The Centre had, towards the end of 2017, agreed to club the two phases. The other beneficiary state, Uttar Pradesh, has already agreed to implement the project, which was first pushed by the NDA-I government, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. "The problem is virtually resolved. Officials of the Centre and the state governments will solve whatever small difficulties are there in three-four days," Gadkari, who is the Union water resources minister, said, after his meeting with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan here yesterday. Following the clubbing of the two phases, the cost of the project is expected to go up to around Rs 28,000 crore from around Rs 18,000 crore at present, a senior official said. Currently, the funding pattern for the project is 60:4) (Centre:state).
The Union water resources ministry, however, has been pushing for changing the pattern to 90:10 (Centre:state). "The allocation of funds for the project is not an issue. We will reach out to the Union Cabinet, seeking to change the funding pattern," the official added. Meanwhile, Gadkari said the ministry would organise a workshop to resolve the inter-state disputes over sharing of river waters. "I can't see the problems getting solved through the legal frameworks. We will try to solve it at the political level, sitting together with both the sides (in each dispute). I think there will be success stories in this case too during (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji's regime," he added. The phase I of the Ken-Betwa river-linking project had envisaged the construction of a dam across the Ken river in Chhattarpur district of Madhya Pradesh to irrigate 6.35 lakh hectares of land, supply drinking water to the Bundelkhand region and generate 78 MW of hydropower. Of the 6.35 lakh hectares, 3.69 lakh hectares fell in Madhya Pradesh, while the remaining 2.66 lakh hectares in Uttar Pradesh. After the clubbing of the two phases, the irrigated area is expected to go up. According to sources, the project will irrigate around 9 lakh hectares (including 6.07 lakh hectares in Madhya Pradesh), instead of the earlier 6.35 lakh hectares.
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