Explained: The Ken-Betwa Link Project

Ken and Betwa, tributaries of river Yamuna in MP, are all set for India’s first river interlinking project under the National Perspective Plan (NPP), formulated in 1980 by the Ministry of Irrigation. NPP proposed for the inter-basin water transfer in the country.

The idea behind inter-basin water transfer was to transfer surplus water from a river to a water deficit area. It was shelved in 1980 but later revived under Vajpayee’s govt. NPP identified 30 river links across the country. Ken-Betwan river link was identified as one!

According to Union Water Resources 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.

The project strategically focuses on providing relief to 13 drought vulnerable districts of the Bundelkhand region spanning across UP and MP.

MP: Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri and Raisen

UP: Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur

One of the most controversial parts of the Ken-Betwa project is the construction of the Daudhan Dam- which will result in the submergence of 8% of the core area (+ 2.3 million trees and more than five thousand hectares) of MP’s Panna Tiger Reserve.

Construction of Kotha Barrage in phase II of the project will threaten the sensitive Ken Gharial Sanctuary in MP, one of the very few places where Gharials can still be found. The dam is slated to displace 20,000 people, bringing the issue of rehabilitation to the forefront.

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