Linking Ken and Betwa rivers to cost Rs7,615 crore

Linking Ken and Betwa rivers to cost Rs7,615 crore

New Delhi: A project to link the Ken river in Uttar Pradesh with the Betwa river in Madhya Pradesh is likely to cost Rs7,615 crore, according to a detailed project report prepared by the ministry of water resources.

The project involves building 231km of canals to divert surplus water from the Ken river basin to the water-deficient Betwa basin, which would provide irrigation to 155,000ha of farm land in Uttar Pradesh and 490,000ha in Madhya Pradesh.

The Union government has started consultations with the concerned state governments, water resources secretary U.N. Panjiar said, adding that the progress of the project could be slow.

This is part of India’s efforts to reduce regional imbalances in water availability by transferring water from one river basin to another.

It aims to expand areas under cultivation and irrigation and also control floods and droughts.

“Interlinking of the river systems is something that can help in expanding areas under cultivation," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the annual Hindustan Times Leadership Summit organized by HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint.

There are, however, environmental concerns regarding the interlinking, he said.

According to the National Water Development Agency, the Ken-Betwa project involves building a dam that would submerge 8,650ha and displace 8,550 people in 10 villages.

An expert has already flagged concerns on the project.

“The way the project is (designed) right now, it will create more problems than offer solutions," said agricultural economist and former Union minister Y.K. Alagh.

In a related development, the government is also preparing detailed project reports on linking the Par, Tapi and Narmada rivers, and the Damanganga and Pinjal rivers in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

According to a Planning Commission report, India receives an annual 4,000 trillion litres of rainfall, of which only 1,869 trillion litres can be utilized. Of this, less than 1,123 million litres is actually used.

Groundwater, which accounts for 433 million litres, contributes 70-80% of the water that is used in cultivation in India.