Buoyed up with BJP’s victory in general elections, state chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said he will expedite his demand for Ken-Betwa river linking project. The UPA-II had dumped the project. The project will be on top priority once Narendra Modi takes the saddle from Manmohan Singh.
“Ken-Betwa river linking project is my top priority among other demands. Also we want Narmada river to be linked with other rivers, as we have successfully completed Narmada-Kshipra river linking project. I will personally meet Modi once he takes the oath of office and will put the demand,” Shivraj Singh Chouhan state chief minister said here while expressing his gratitude towards the voters for giving comfortable majority to his party in elections. Modi is expected to take oath 21st of this month as new Prime Minister of India.
An area of 1.27 lakh ha in the Raisen and Vidisha districts of Madhya Pradesh will be benefitted. This link is also to provide annual irrigation to 47000 ha area enroute in the drought prone Chhatarpur and Tikamgarh districts of Madhya Pradesh and Hamirpur and Jhansi districts of Uttar Pradesh.
The UPA-II government had put the project on back-burner. During his first visit to Bundelkhand region in 2011, then Union Minister of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh had threw spanner to the project and termed it “disastrous.” Rahul Gandhi, Congress vice-president, had also raised concerns over the project.
The Ken-Betwa river linking project faced opposition from experts and environmentalists that linking of rivers would be a recipe of disaster. Also some seers have protested in Madhya Pradesh recently when Chouhan government completed Narmada-Kshipra river linking project by saying that linking of rivers is not allowed in Hinduism.
Also questions were raised over Ken-Betwa river linking since it would result in the submergence of nearly double the total forest land of the Panna Tiger Reserve.
Districts of Raisen, Shivpuri, Ashok Nagar, Vidisha and Sagar districts will be get assured irrigation, domestic and industrial water supply. The total population of these districts, as per 2011 census, is nearly 33 lakh, which would in the proximity of catchment of Upper Betwa sub-basin.
The project also envisages to supply drinking water for 1.65 lakh population in the state. “Without wasting any time I will meet Modi and put a list of demands with Ken-Betwa on priority,” Chouhan said.
According to a National Water Development Agency (NWDA) study, the Ken river basin has surplus water and is proposed to transfer 1074 million cubic meters Ken water through link canal, of which 591 million cubic meter of water will be discharged to Betwa.
NWDA is also learnt to have advised construction of a dam across Orr river. Orr is a tributary of Betwa.
Ken-Betwa river linking project is one of the proposed sixteen river linking projects under Peninsular Component of National Perspective Plan interlinking the two rivers flowing between Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.