The central government’s multi-crore Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) may have to face hurdle, according to Indian Express report. The project aims at addressing water needs of dry swathes in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh inter alia. The Environment Ministry, the National Board For Wildlife (NBWL) and the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) recommended the project for clearance in 2016. Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) had tabled at a meeting held last week. However, the validity of such clearances, if issued at this stage, may not stand legal scrutiny, the Indian express report says. That is because the recommendations of the NBWL and the EAC, in fact, call for a fresh project report, which, in turn, will require a fresh assessment of its potential impact.
On March 30, 2017, the FAC also recommended that the proposed 78 MW power house “shall not be constructed in the forest area to be diverted”. The FAC made a set of other recommendations, which too demand a fresh project report and subsequent assessment of project viability.
Watch this video
Earlier on February 10 this year, the investment clearance committee, comprising officials from NITI Aayog and Union Water Resources Ministry, for Ken-Betwa river linking had given the nod for the Rs 18,000-crore national project envisaged to address drinking water and irrigation requirements of the parched Bundelkhand region, the PTI report said. The project was first mooted in the early 1980s but was actively taken up by the previous NDA government under then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It was then challenged in the Supreme Court, which finally gave the nod in 2013.
The first phase of the project will cost about Rs 9,393 crore and is likely to be completed in nine years. The project comes under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) in which the Centre contributes 60 per cent funds and the rest is by the state. But the Water Resources Ministry has asked NITI Aayog to change the funding pattern to 90:10 ratio given it is a national project, the report says.
The project envisages construction of a dam across river Ken in Chhatarpur district in Madhya Pradesh to irrigate 6.35 lakh hectares of land, serve drinking water purposes in Bundelkhand region and generation of 78 MW hydropower. Of this, 3.69 lakh hectares will be covered in Madhya Pradeshs Chattarpur, Tikamgarh and Panna districts. The remaining 2.65 lakh hectares of area falls in poll-bound Uttar Pradeshs Mahoba, Banda and Jhansi districts.
A total of 10 villages consisting of 1,585 families are likely to be affected by this project. About 9,000 hectares area would be submerged, out of which 4,141 hectares is forestland in Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, the PTI report said.