The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has given its clearance for the Ken-Betwa inter-linking of rivers (ILR) project, paving the way to begin work for linking two rivers.
The clearance of NBWL was required since the project requires diversion of forest land from core area of Panna Tiger Reserve. However NBWL has set some conditions. They are
- Integration of nearby sanctuaries including Ranipur and Rani Durgavati with the Panna Tiger Reserve to compensate loss of tiger habitat and complete ban of fresh mining lease in the area.
- The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) will take care of the landscape plan for the area with the help of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and state forest departments.
The Ken-Betwa ILR project had received clearance of the Union Cabinet in July 2014 but the work could not begin as the mandatory clearance from the NBWL got stuck due to objections raised from wildlife conservationists and environmentalists. Nearly 8,650 hectares of forest land including part of Panna National Park in Madhya Pradesh will be submerged due to implementation of this project. The conservationists and environmentalists have been mainly opposing the project, flagging its impact on tiger reserve and wildlife sanctuaries.
About Ken-Betwa ILR project
- The Ken-Betwa ILR project aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken River to the Betwa basin through concrete canal to irrigate India’s worst drought-prone Bundelkhand region.
- The project will benefit Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in terms of meeting irrigation, drinking water and electricity needs of people across 6 districts in the two states.
- The 221-km concrete canal will pass through Jhansi, Banda and Mahoba districts of Uttar Pradesh and Chhatarpur, Panna and Tikamgarh districts of Madhya Pradesh.
- The project also had received green signal from the Supreme Court following the tripartite MoU involving UP, MP and Centre.
- The apex court in February 2012 had directed Centre to implement this project in a time-bound manner and also had appointed a high-powered committee for its planning and implementation.