(GS3: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc.)
- The Ken-Betwa Link Project is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for the interlinking of rivers.
- Under this project, water from the Ken River will be transferred to the Betwa river.
- Both these rivers are tributaries of the river Yamuna.
- Under Phase-I, one of the components — Daudhan dam complex and its appurtenances like Low Level Tunnel, High Level Tunnel, Ken-Betwa link canal and Power houses — will be completed.
- While in the Phase-II, three components — Lower Orr dam, Bina complex project and Kotha barrage — will be constructed.
- Irrigation: The project is slated to irrigate 10.62 lakh hectares annually, provide drinking water supply to 62 lakh people and generate 103 MW of hydropower and 27 MW of solar power.
- Water supply: The project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved Bundelkhand region, spread across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
- Agricultural boost: The project is expected to boost socio-economic prosperity in the backward Bundelkhand region on account of increased agricultural activities and employment generation.
- Addressing Rural Distress: It would also help in arresting distress migration from this region.
Issues with the projects
- Migration: It will lead to massive displacement of people
- Topography change: Since the Ganga basin topography is flat, building dams would not substantially add to river flows.
- Inundation: The transfer of such enormous amounts of water will inundate forests and land for reservoirs.
- Seismic hazards: The weight of billions of litres of water can have seismic implications in the Himalayan region.
- Financial expense: River inter-linking is an expensive business from building the link canals to the monitoring and maintenance of infrastructure.
- Political will: Implementation of the project not only needs a huge financial capital but also political support both is scarce commodities as of now.
Ecological issues with the project
- The government’s plan is based on a ‘surplus and deficit’ model that have little basis in science.
- There may not even be enough water in the Ken, a non-perennial river, to meet the projected needs of the Betwa – forget the needs of the Bundelkhand region.
- The project plans to create a high reservoir-dam on the Ken River in the Panna National Park and Tiger Reserve for the KBLP.
- Downstream of the national park lies the Ken Gharial Sanctuary, created to protect the critically endangered Gangetic gharial (Gavialis gangeticus).
- Due diligence: Expert scrutiny during the project-approval stage are cornerstones of sound environmental governance.
- Independent hydrological study: of these rivers is necessary.