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Can Ken-Betwa river link project turn the tide on December deadline?

Subhayan Chakraborty  |  New Delhi 

The Ken-Betwa river interlinking project, which is the first such in the country, might miss its December deadline as it is unlikely to receive all the required environmental clearances by then. Union Minister of State for Water Resources Sanwar Lal Jat had, on July 13, declared that work on the ambitious project, linking Ken river in Madhya Pradesh to Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh, is expected to start by year-end and will be developed as a model link project. Sources at the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) told Business Standard that the revised environment impact assessment (EIA) report was given by it on July 22. He added that NWDA was expecting the environment ministry to give a green signal to the project by the end of August whereby, it will petition for techno-economic clearance. Initially mooted in the early 1980s, the project was actively taken up by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It was then challenged in the Supreme Court, which finally gave the nod in 2013. The UPA government wasn't too keen and the group of ministers (GoM) constituted under Pranab Mukherjee never met. The project was allotted Rs 100 crore in 2014-15 to expedite preparations of detailed project reports (DPRs).

According to the water resources ministry, approximately 35 million hectare (ha) of additional irrigation potential, and 34,000 megawatt (Mw) hydro power generation are the likely benefits envisaged under the project, apart from the incidental benefits of flood moderation, navigation, drinking water supply, fisheries, salinity and pollution control. An area of 127,000 ha in the Raisen and Vidisha districts of Madhya Pradesh will be benefited. Also, the annual irrigation to 47,000 ha will be en route to the drought-prone Chhatarpur and Tikamgarh districts of Madhya Pradesh, and Hamirpur and Jhansi districts of Uttar Pradesh. The first stage of the project involves transferring 591 million cubic meters (mcm) of surplus water in the Ken basin through a 231.45-km canal to the Betwa river. It also includes the construction of Daudhan dam and a small hydroelectric plant in the middle of the Panna Tiger Reserve, one of the country's most successful tiger reserves. The Rs 9,393-crore project involves 9,000 ha, half of which is wooded. If the project is cleared, 10 per cent of the tiger reserve will be taken away. A source at NWDA said the revised EIA report did not make any changes to the land requirement.


NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE PLAN HIMALAYAN COMPONENT Pre-feasibility studies done
  • Manas-Sankosh- Teesta-Ganga link
  • Jogighopa-Teesta-Farakka link
  • Farakka-Sunderbans link
  • Ghagra-Yamuna link
  • Sarda-Yamuna link
  • Sone Dam-Southern tributaries of Ganga link
  • Kosi-Ghagra link
  • Kosi-Mechi link

Draft feasibility report completed

  • Yamuna-Rajasthan link
  • Farakka-Sunderbans link
  • Ganga (Farakka)-Damodar-Subarnarekha link
  • Subarnarekha-Mahanadi link
  • Chunar-Sone Barrage link
  • Rajasthan-Sabarmati link
  • Gandak-Ganga link
  • Peninsular Component

Feasibility report completed

  • Ken-Betwa link
  • Mahanadi (Manibhadra)-Godavari (Dowlaiswaram) link
  • Godavari (Inchampalli) - Krishna (Nagarjunasagar) link
  • Godavari (Inchampalli)-Krishna (Pulichintala) link
  • Godavari (Polavaram)-Krishna (Vijayawada) link
  • Krishna (Almatti)-Pennar link
  • Krishna (Srisailam)-Pennar link
  • Krishna (Nagarjunasagar) -Pennar (Somasila) link
  • Pennar (Somasila)-Palar-Cauvery (Grand Anicut) link
  • Cauvery (Kattalai)-Vaigai-Gundar link
  • Parbati - Kalisindh - Chambal link
  • Par-Tapi-Narmada link
  • Damanganga-Pinjal link
  • Pamba-Achankovil-Vaippar link

First Published: Thu, August 06 2015. 00:42 IST
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