Ken Betwa River Linking: Notes for UPSC 2021

The Ken Betwa interlinking of rivers (ILR) project was touted as the first river inter-link project under the revised national scheme. It was given the Union Cabinet’s approval in July 2014 but was stalled because of protests from environmentalists and wildlife conservationists. In this article, you can read all about the project for the UPSC exam.

Latest Update about Ken Betwa River Linking Project for UPSC

In March 2021, the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh signed an agreement that nudges forward the long-stalled multi-crore, controversial project to link the Ken and the Betwa rivers.

  1. The Environment Ministry’s expert panel has deferred the environmental clearance to Lower Orr Dam that is a part of the phase-II of the Ken-Betwa river linking project.
  2. Lower Orr Dam (On the Orr River in Madhya Pradesh) project is considered to be the national project and is a part of the Ken-Betwa project.
  3. There is a disagreement between the two states (Uttar Pradesh and MP) over the sharing of water.
The topic, ‘Ken-Betwa River Linking Project’ is important from the governance and environment syllabi’s contexts of the UPSC exam. Similar important articles are linked below:

  1. Interlinking of Rivers – National River Linking Project 
  2. The Major Indian River Systems
  3. National River of India – Ganga
  4. Inter-State Water Disputes Tribunal
  5. Himalayan and Peninsular Rivers

Ken Betwa (ILR) Project Details

  • It is a project proposed to transfer excess water from the River Ken to the Betwa basin through the use of a concrete canal. The project aims to provide irrigation to the Bundelkhand region, which is one of the worst drought-affected areas in India.
  • The beneficiary states are Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
  • It will meet the irrigation purposes, drinking water, and electricity needs of 6 districts in both states.
  • The proposed concrete canal would be 221 km long. It will pass through Jhansi, Banda, and Mahoba districts of UP and Chhatarpur, Panna, and Tikamgarh districts of MP.
  • A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Centre and the governments of UP and MP for the project.

To know about India’s First River Linkage – The Krishna and Godavari rivers– visit the linked article

Why did environmentalists protest?

Conservation activists protested the announcement of the project citing several reasons:

  1. Nearly 8,650 hectares of forest land including part of Panna National Park in Madhya Pradesh will be submerged if the project were to become a reality.
  2. It will also have an adverse impact on tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries in the region.

The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) had given clearance to this project with a few conditions. The clearance from the NBWL was required as the project would warrant the diversion of forest land from the core area of the Panna Tiger Reserve. The conditions set by the NBWL are:

  1. To compensate for the loss of tiger habitat and to complete the ban of fresh mining lease in the area, the sanctuaries of Ranipur and Rani Durgavati were to be integrated with the Panna Tiger Reserve.
  2. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) would handle the landscape plan for the area with the help of the Wildlife Institute of India.

Find the comprehensive list of the National Parks of India, by clicking on the linked article.

UPSC 2021

Madhya Pradesh’s Objection

Despite getting clearances from all quarters, the state government of MP had raised certain objections in 2017. The MP government had wanted to integrate three smaller projects of Phase II of the project into Phase I. The three smaller projects are the Lower Orr dam, the Bina complex, and the Kotha barrage. In 2017, the Centre had agreed to MP’s demand.

As a result of the clubbing of the two phases, the cost of the project is expected to go up. Also, the irrigated area is increased to about 9 lakh hectares, as opposed to the earlier 6.35 lakh hectares.

Ken Betwa Project Status

The project has still not taken off. With widespread opposition from conservationists and disagreements between governments, the project is still in the feasibility stage. However, with the results of the 2019 general elections giving the present government a huge mandate, the project was expected to receive a new lease of life. As of January 2020, the project again has run into trouble as environmentalists cried foul over the motives behind the interstate meeting that took place on January 31st, 2020. As of now, the project is still to begin in earnest.

For more related articles and information about the IAS and UPSC Exams, visit the linked article.

Ken-Betwa River Linking – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

FAQ about Ken-Betwa river interlinking project

Where does Betwa River originate?

Betwa River, a river in northern India, arises in the Vindhya Range just north of Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh.

What is Dhaudhan Dam project?

The project involves transferring surplus water from the Ken river in Madhya Pradesh to the Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh and irrigating 3.64 lakh hectares in the Bundelkhand region of both States.

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