Environmentalists on Thursday (May 18) lambasted ambitious plans to bring much needed water to remote central India by linking two rivers, in the latest clash over dwindling water resources.
The Ken-Betwa project was approved by the Forest Advisory Committee on Wednesday but without any of the changes sought by environmentalists, such as reducing the height of a proposed dam and relocating affected villages.
Interlinking entails diverting surplus river water through a network of canals to drier areas. While the idea to link India’s rivers was first mooted in the 1970s, plans to join up more than two dozen rivers have seen little action.
The Ken-Betwa link project envisages diversion of surplus waters of Ken basin to water deficit Betwa basin. The quantity of water proposed to be diverted from Ken basin, after considering in basin demands and downstream commitments earmarked for providing irrigation in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, is 1020 Mm3. This link canal will provide irrigation to water short areas of upper Betwa basin of Madhya Pradesh by way of substitution and also to enroute areas of Madhya Pradesh & Uttar Pradesh. The command envisaged in the earlier proposed Ken Multi-purpose Project (KMPP) by Madhya Pradesh State Government is also to be irrigated from this project.
The total cost of the link project has been estimated as Rs. 1988.74 crore (1994-95 price level) comprising Rs. 991.07 crore for Main Project (Unit-I: Head works Rs. 367.92 crore, Unit- II: Canals Rs. 572.44 crore and Unit-III: Power Rs. 50.72 crore). The cost of canal system is Rs. 554.11 crore for Ken command (i.e. KMPP) and the estimated cost of four projects is Rs. 443.55 crore for Betwa command. The schedule of construction of the link project is planned for a period of 9 years including pre-construction year.