A number of non-government organizations, hydrologists and individuals associated with the field of environment and wildlife have written to the chairperson of the environmental appraisal committee (EAC) of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests demanding that the MP’s Ken Betwa river link project not be accorded sanction in its meeting on October 27.
The objections are on grounds that due diligence on the claimed benefits from the project has not been done and facts pertaining to the wildlife and environmental impact of the project have been suppressed.
‘Adverse impact on Panna Tiger Reserve ignored’
Himanshu Thakkar of South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) has written to the EAC pointing out that the user agency, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA), has given an ‘incomplete, inadequate, misleading and factually incorrect’ response to its queries.
The impact of the project on the Panna Tiger Reserve has been ignored and the adverse report by the then field director, Panna tiger reserve has not been addressed either.
He has also questioned the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report of the project for a number of flaws contained in it.
Noted wildlife expert, Padma Bhushan HS Pawar has also sent his objections to the project.
‘Amount of water availability mentioned by the NWDA is actually not there in Ken river’
Hydrologist Brij Gopal, who has been studying the proposed Ken Betwa river link project, has questioned it on technical grounds stating that the amount of water availability mentioned by the NWDA is actually not there in the Ken river.
In his submission to the EAC, he has termed the figures given by the water resources ministry as ‘jugglery’. He says that the DPR volume I of the project states that 70% dependable flow of the Ken river is 6590 MCM. The gross flow of the river at Daudhan is shown as 6188 MCM which means contribution of downstream rivers and tributaries is only 402 MCM. This figure is not possible once MP uses its share of 2266 MCM in upstream projects.
The MP State Wildlife Board on September 22 cleared the project amidst dissent from independent members of the board who are wildlife experts. The board had deferred a decision on the Ken Betwa river link in its previous meeting on August 11.
However, both the chief wildlife warden, who is the member secretary of the board and the field director of Panna tiger reserve who had earlier opposed the project in the August 11 meeting, did not do so on the September 22 meeting. No new facts were brought to light in the intervening period between the meetings for the stand of the two officials to have changed.
Also, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) that had submitted a report on the project and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) have not taken a stand on the dissent note on the project submitted by the previous field director, Panna tiger reserve.