The Ken-Betwa river linking project has created a discord between some Congress MPs and environment minister Jairam Ramesh. The Congress MPs from the Bundelkhand region, where the project is to be implemented, want the Ken-Betwa river project to be implemented even if it results in submergence of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
Bundelkhand has 13 districts in UP and MP. The project is to link the Ken river in UP with Betwa in MP, but it would result in half of the Panna tiger reserve getting submerged.
Ramesh differs with his party MPs saying Panna needs to be saved at any cost. Panna had recently received four tigers from forest areas in MP after death of all tigers in 2009.
Ramesh has already written to water resources minister Salman Khurshid to change the project scope so that Panna tiger reserve can be saved.
“People are more important to us than tigers,” said minister of state for rural development Pradeep Kumar Jain, a Congress MP from the Bundelkhand region.
The Ken-Betwa inter-linking project is a key element of the central government’s Bundelkhand package, which is being perused by area MPs such as Jain. The Planning Commission, which is implementing the package, has got commitment to the project from the MP and UP governments.