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Sansad TV: Perspective- Ken-Betwa Interlinking Project





The Centre has approved the implementation of Ken-Betwa river link project, one of the links under peninsular rivers component with an estimated cost of Rs 44,605 crore… with central support of Rs 39,317 crore, as informed by Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in Parliament. As per the minister, the National Water Development Agency, under the Ministry of Jal Shakti has identified 16 links under the peninsular rivers component and 14 links under the Himalayan component of the National Perspective Plan for inter-basin transfer. He informed the Lok Sabha that pre-feasibility reports of all 30 links have been completed and feasibility reports of 24 links and detailed project reports of eight links have been completed. Further, under the intra-state link projects, the National Water Development Agency received 49 link proposals from 10 states, out of which pre-feasibility reports of 39 link projects and detailed project reports of six link projects were completed and sent to the states concerned.

Key facts:

  • Ken and Betwa rivers originate in MP and are the tributaries of Yamuna.
  • Ken meets with Yamuna in Banda district of UP and with Betwa in Hamirpur district of UP.
  • Rajghat, Paricha and Matatila dams are over Betwa river.
  • Ken River passes through Panna tiger reserve.

About the Project:

  • The project involves transferring of water from the Ken river to the Betwa riverthrough the construction of Daudhan dam and a canal linking the two rivers, the Lower Orr Project, Kotha Barrage and the Bina Complex Multipurpose Project.
  • The project is slated to irrigate 10.62 lakh hectares annually, provide drinking water supply to 62 lakh people and generate 103 MW of hydropower and 27 MW of solar power.
  • The project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved Bundelkhand region, spread across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The project is expected to boost socio-economic prosperity in the backward Bundelkhand region on account of increased agricultural activities and employment generation.
  • It would also help in arresting distress migration from this region.

Concerns associated:

Several obstacles have dogged the project.

  • The project will partly submerge the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and affect the habitat of vultures and jackals.
  • After years of protests, it was finally cleared by the apex wildlife regulator, the National Board for Wildlife, in 2016.

Benefits of interlinking:

  1. Enhances water and food security.
  2. Proper utilisation of water.
  3. Boost to agriculture.
  4. Disaster mitigation.
  5. Boost to transportation.

Way Forward:

  • To look at water as a strategic resource for development.
  • Environment is one issue where anyone of us should be concerned about.
  • Best practices done by China and neighboring countries needs to be looked upon.
  • The biggest, cheapest, most benign, possibly fastest and most decentralized storage option for India is the groundwater
  • Invest in water conservation, more efficient irrigation and better farm practices.
  • Recycling of water for internal usage as that of Israel.
  • We need a mandatory enforceable river policy aimed at treating rivers as national treasure.
  • Accumulation of silt in huge quantities, particularly the Ganga and its tributaries. These rivers need to be desilted.
  • River linking in the south and other parts which was undertaken in the past has been going well so such model needs to be taken forward.
  • Planting trees on the river banks is one way of bringing life back to the rivers.
  • Forest catchments will need to be restored, wastewater from industries and towns will need to be treated, sand mining need to be stopped.
  • Need to build the responsibility, capability and accountability in our water management institutions to revive our rivers.
  • The judicious use of canal water, growing crops that are appropriate to a region, encouraging drip irrigation and reviving traditional systems such as tanks.


  • The river linking project is a great challenge and an opportunity to address the water issues arising out of climate change.
  • The long-term solution to water scarcity lies in making the IRL project work by building a network of dams and canals across the length and breadth of the country.
  • However, interlinking has to take place after a detailed study so that does not cause any problem to the environment or aquatic life.