Ken-Betwa River Interlinking Project

Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat signed a tripartite agreement with the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh on March 22 on the occasion of World Water Day to start the work on India’s first major river interlinking project.

The agreement has brought an end to the disagreement between UP and MP over water-sharing.

About Ken-Betwa River Interlinking Project

  • The Rs 37,600 crore KBRL project entails construction of a 77-metre high and 2,031-metre long dam on the Ken river at Daudhan village in Chhatarpur district of MP.
  • Water from the river would be transferred through a canal to the Betwa basin.
  • According to the project report, 2,800 million cubic metres (MCM) of water from the Ken River basin will be diverted to the water-deficient Betwa basin through a 73.8-meter-high dam proposed on Ken at Daudhan in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhattarpur district.
  • Both of the rivers are rain-fed and are tributaries of the Yamuna.
  • According to the Jal Shakti Ministry, the initiative will provide irrigation to 10.6 lakh hectares, supply drinking water to more than 60 lakh people in the two states and generate 103 MW of hydropower.
  • It is the first project to be executed under the National River Interlinking Project.
  • Six districts, Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh, and Panna in Madhya Pradesh and Mahoba, Banda, and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh will benefit from the project.
  • The river linking initiative’s EIA report predicts job opportunities in “construction, fishing and tourism”.
  • In 2005, a water-sharing agreement was signed between MP and UP.
  • The project began moving ahead in 2015 but hit a roadblock in 2017 when MP demanded that three smaller projects—Bina complex, Kotha barrage and Lower Oar—be moved from phase 2 to the phase of the river linking plan.
  • The state also demanded that the water-sharing pact with UP be revisited.

Environmental Concerns

  • Several committees, including the Supreme Court-appointed panel, have raised doubts about the project.
  • Large tracts of the Panna tiger reserve will get submerged by this project.
  • According to a written reply given by Minister of State for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria, out of the 6,017 ha of forest area coming under submergence of Daudhan dam of Ken Betwa Link Project, 4,206 ha of area lies within the core tiger habitat of Panna Tiger Reserve.
  • This will pose serious threat to ecological balance in the region
  • River Ken nourishes biodiversity, roots and leaves of trees in the forests that hold water and recharge the river’s aquifers.
  • Each river has its own geological character, and different flora and fauna. By interlinking river basins, everything will be destroyed.
  • An estimated 4.6 million trees will be cut down for the project which will adversely affect the rain in the already dry Bundelkhand region.

Panna Tiger Reserve

  • A prime tiger-land Located in Vindhyan Hills in northern Madhya Pradesh.
  • Fragile though dynamic dry deciduous forest.
  • Characterised by extensive plateaus and gorges.
  • Land of mesmerising waterfalls.
  • Naturals and archaeological splendour.
  • Land of legends and cultural richness.
  • The land of the Ken river, which lends it unparalleled beauty.
  • The northern most boundary of natural distribution to teak (Tectona grandis).
  • The eastern limit of teak-kardhai (Anogeissus pendula) mixed forests.
  • Links the eastern and western populations of wild animals through the NE-SW running Vindhyan Hill ranges.
  • The most important protected area in the north-central highlands of india.

Biodiversity Of Panna Tiger Reserve

MAMMALS

Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), the king of the jungle, roams freely in this secure, though a bit small habitat alongwith his fellow beings – leopard (Panthera pardus), wild dog (Cuon alpinus), wolf (Canis lupus), hyaena (Hyaena hyaena) and caracal (Felus caracal) and smaller cats. Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) has his most favourite home in the rock escarpments and undisturbed vales.

The wooded areas are dotted with sambar (Cervus unicolor) – the largest of Indian deers, chital (Axis axis) and chowsingha (Tetracevos quadricornis).

One can easily see nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) and chinkara (Gazella gazella) in most open areas in the grasslands, specially on the periphery.

BIRDS

The avifauna comprises more than 200 species including a host of migratory birds.

One can see white necked stork, barheaded goose, honey Buuzzard, King Vulture, Blossom headed Parakeet, Paradise flycatcher, Slaty headed Scimitar babbler to name a few.

REPTILES

Varieties of snakes, including the python and other reptiles are found here.

FLORA

  • Dry and hot climate, in union with shallow Vindhyan soils has given rise to dry Teak and dry mixed forest.
  • The dominating vegetation type is Miscellaneous Dry Deciduous forest interspread with grassland areas.
  • Other major forest types are riverines, open grasslands, open woodlands with tall grasses and thorny woodlands.
  • The characteristic floral species of this area include tree species such as Tectona grandis, Diospyros melanoxylon, Madhuca indica, Buchnania latifolia, Anogeissus latifolia, Anogeissus pendula, Lannea coromandelica, Bosswelia serrata etc.
  • Major shrub species includes Lantana camera, Grewia sp., Nyctanthus arbortristis, Ixora sp., Zyziphus mauritiana, Zyziphus oenoplea, etc.
  • The dominant grass species are Apluda mutica, Themeda quadrivalvis, Meteropogon contortus, Arishtida sp. etc.

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