Government has cleared Rs 10,000 crore Ken-Betwa project for environmental clearance. The decision to give go-ahead to project comes despite project being under examination by the Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee (CEC) for adequacy of its mitigative measures for the repercussions on Madhya Pradesh’s Panna tiger reserve.
The ambitious project will require diversion of 5,258 hectares of forest land, of which 4141 hectares will fall in Panna tiger reserve region. Earlier, the project was cleared by National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) last August. On December 30, the Environmental Ministry recommended the project for an environmental clearance.
Meanwhile, on December 2, the CEC informed the Ministry that its cognizance to examine the project in regards with adequacy of mitigative measures against the adverse impacts of the project on the ecological integrity of Panna Tiger Reserve and particularly the riverine eco-system.
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The ministry made its response to CEC’s request only last week, providing the relevant documents and details of the project. Ministry’s response came only after the project was cleared by the EAC. In case of any aggrevation, the CEC will have the option to approach apex court. In an internal ministry meeting on December 30, it was noted that a “consensus” has been reached to delink the landscape management plan (LMP) for the project-affected tiger habitat from the perspective of environmental clearance.
After getting the initial clearance, Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, in a media briefing had that she was confident about an early environmental clearance. Last month, the minister said that “the last hurdle” was cleared and the project would be launched as soon as the funding pattern was finalised.