IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


19th January, 2023 Geography

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  • The Third Meeting of Steering Committee of Ken-Betwa Link Project (SC-KBLP) was held today at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.


  • To address the water shortage issues affecting many parts of the country, the central government has come up with an ambitious project for the interlinking of rivers.
  • The Ken-Betwa link project, envisaged under the National Perspective Plan (NPP), will be one of the first river interlinking projects to be implemented in India. This project aims to provide annual irrigation for around 10 lakh hectares, boost drinking water supply and generate hydropower of 103 MW in the Bundelkhand region spread across the states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The Ken Betwa river project is among the 30 river interlinking projects conceptualised across the country.

The Project:

  • The Ken-Betwa river interlinking project will connect the Ken and Betwa rivers and transfer water from the former to the latter to irrigate agricultural tracts of and supply drinking water to the Bundelkhand region.
  • The project will take eight years to set up, including building the ‘Daudhan dam’ on the Ken river in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhatarpur district, inside the Panna Tiger Reserve.
  • From here, a canal is expected to carry water from the Ken to the Betwa river through the districts of Chhatarpur and Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh.

What is the history of the Ken-Betwa interlinking project?

  • The project was conceptualised in the 1980s but the water-sharing agreement could not be reached between the two states.
  • The work on the project was originally slated to begin in 2015 but only got a fresh push in 2020 with the government making a revised deal with the two states.

Phases of the Project:

The Ken Betwa river linking project, the construction schedule for which has been planned for eight years, will be executed in two phases:

    • Phase-I: In the first phase of the Ken betwa link pariyojna, the Daudhan dam complex, 221-kilometre Ken-Betwa link canal and powerhouses will be completed.
    • Phase-II: In the second phase of the Ken Betwa linking project,the development works under the Ken betwa link project will be started for the lower Orr dam, Bina complex project and Kotha barrage.

Plausible Benefits of the Project:

  • The Ken Betwa link project has been planned as a multi-purpose project, for providing several benefits in terms of better utilisation of water resources and addressing the water scarcity in several parts of the Bundelkhand region.
  • The region is prone to recurring drought conditions that have impacted socio-economic development in the area. Moreover, owing to the hard rock and marginal alluvium terrain, the location is not rich in groundwater. Hence, the Ken Betwa river project will help in utilising the floodwater during monsoon and stabilise the availability of water during lean months, especially in drought years.
  • The project linking Ken and Betwa river will also provide annual irrigation and hydropower generation. The districts that will benefit from the Ken betwa link pariyojna include Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh, Sagar, Damoh, Datia,  Vidisha, Shivpuri, Raisen and Panna in Madhya Pradesh and Jhansi, Mahoba, Banda and Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh. As many as 62 lakh people in the Bundelkhand region will also experience improved drinking water supply due to the project.
  • The project will reportedly generate 103 MW of hydroelectric power and 27 MW of solar power, bring drinking water to about 62 lakh people and irrigate some 10.62 lakh hectares of land – every year.

Concern raised:

Environmental Impact of the Project

  • Several committees, including the Supreme Court-appointed panel, have raised doubts about the project. 
  • Environment activists have expressed concerns over the impact it will have on the Panna Tiger Reserve. Over 46 lakh trees are likely to be felled due to the construction work within the national park.
  • The development of the Ken Betwa river interlinking project is also expected to result in the submergence of 6,017 hectares of forest land under the Daudhan dam of the KBLP.
  • Panna Tiger Reseve is home to many critically endangered wildlife species. It has more than 52 tigers and endangered vulture species like the white-rumped vulture.
  • An estimated 4.6 million trees will be cut down for the project which will adversely affect the rain in the already dry Bundelkhand region.