Despite receiving a temporary setback from the state wildlife advisory board on the linking of the Ken river in Madhya Pradesh and Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh last month, the Madhya Pradesh government is planning to add another buffer area of nearly 8,000 hectares (ha) into the Panna Tiger Reserve.
The river-linking project is likely to come up in the next meeting of the wildlife advisory board on September 22. If the board okays the project, it would go for National Wildlife Board for further clearance. Nauradehi and Rani Durgawati wildlife sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh, and Ranipur and Mahavir Swami wildlife sanctuaries in Uttar Pradesh are likely to be brought under Panna Tiger Reserve as satellite core areas.
"Three new buffer zones (with combined area of 8,000 ha), namely Amanganj, Kishangarh and Chandra Nagar, will be added to the Panna National Park to give more space for tiger movement. Once these areas are added, only one to two per cent of the total park area (existing 542 sq km) will be affected," a government official told Business Standard.
According a presentation to be tabled in the forthcoming meeting, a total 10.07 per cent of core area or 58.03 sq km will be submerged, while 31.97 sq km area would come from the buffer zone. Thus, a total of 90 sq km of area will be submerged if the project takes shape. "When new areas will be added, the tigers will have enough space for tiger movement downstream Gangau Dam in Uttar Pradesh and it is most likely that prey-base for tigers will be augmented as it had happened in Totladoh Dam in Pench Tiger Reserve," the official said.
In the September 22 meeting, the state government will try to build a consensus that the proposed project is beneficial to the Bundelkhand region. The purpose of the project is to irrigate 575,000 ha of land by diverting water from Ken to Betwa and ensure drinking water to 1.3 million people.