Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Monday expressed fear that the interlinking of Ken and Betwa rivers will destroy the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
Ahead of the signing of the agreement between the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh for linking the rivers, the former environment minister said he had suggested alternatives in this regard 10 years ago but those were ignored.
“The CMs of UP and MP will sign a pact today to link the Ken and Betwa rivers. This will all but destroy the Panna Tiger Reserve in MP, a success story in translocation and revival. I had suggested alternatives 10 years ago but alas…,” he said on Twitter.
The pact to link the rivers Ken and Betwa would be signed in the presence of the Prime Minister, during the launch of the “Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain” campaign on World Water Day on Monday.
The Ken-Betwa Link Project is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for interlinking of rivers. Under this project, water from the Ken river will be transferred to the Betwa river. Both these rivers are tributaries of river Yamuna.
The Ken-Betwa Link Project has two phases. 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.
According to the Union Jal Shakti Ministry, the project is expected to provide annual irrigation of 10.62 lakh hectares, drinking water supply to about 62 lakh people and also generate 103 MW of hydropower.
According to the Comprehensive Detailed Project Report, the cost of Ken-Betwa Link Project is estimated at Rs 35,111.24 crore at 2017-18 prices.
The Ken-Betwa Link Project lies in Bundelkhand, a drought-prone region, which spreads across 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
According to the Jal Shakti Ministry, the project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved region of Bundelkhand, especially in the districts of Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri and Raisen of Madhya Pradesh and Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur of Uttar Pradesh.