India’s first river linking project faces hurdle as govt gets no tenders for dam
The government has received no tenders to construct the Daudhan Dam and two tunnels in the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhatarpur
India’s first river linking project Ken-Betwa in Bundelkhand region has faced a hurdle as there have been no takers for the tender to construct the Daudhan Dam and two tunnels in the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhatarpur, which are considered the heart of the project, said people familiar with the matter.
The National Water Development Authority (NWDA) floated a tender for the construction of Daudhan Dam and two tunnels in August 2023 with a deadline in October, but no company participated in the tender process.
According to an officer, NWDA extended the last date for filing tenders till January 18, 2024, but companies sent queries related to permission, cost and technology but showed no interest in submitting the tender. The NWDA has now extended the last date for the third time till March 5.
Officials familiar with the matter said if the companies don’t go for tender, this would increase the cost of the project.
“Seeing no response and hesitation among companies for the project of about ₹5,000 crores to ₹6000 crores, the NWDA officers have decided to invite companies to discuss their problems and issues on February 2 by releasing a public notice. We want to give equal opportunities to address the queries and issues related to it so that at least three companies could participate in the tender process of the project,” said a senior NWDA official, who is working on the Ken Betwa Link Project.
Confirming this, Ken Betwa Link Project chief executive officer (CEO) Prashast Kumar Dixit said, “The companies have their own concern for the project and that’s why they didn’t go for the filing of the tender. We are trying to address it.”
An officer, requesting anonymity, said, “The companies are also concerned about environmental clearance as the dam is going to be constructed in the core area of the Panna Tiger Reserve.”
The question of environmental clearance was raised even on the construction of the Lower Orr Dam of the project. “The environment ministry asked to undertake a fresh environment appraisal to assess ecological losses in Lower Orr Dam project and also fined on state government and company,” said the officer.
The Daudhan Dam proposed across the Ken River is 2,031-m long, out of which 1,233-m length of the dam will be earthen and the remaining 798-m length of the dam will be of concrete.
Under the project, a penstock is proposed on the left concrete portion of the dam for taking water to the power house located at the toe of the dam. For providing irrigation water, an upper-level tunnel at the mouth of the Daudhan reservoir has been proposed.
“This tunnel takes off from the left bank of the Ken River upstream of the Daudhan Dam. Downstream of the upper level tunnel, another tunnel i.e. a lower-level tunnel takes off. Powerhouse-II having an installed capacity of 18 MW is proposed at its outlet. After generation of power, water will be taken through a canal to provide irrigation water to 1.73 lakh hectares, out of total 2.41 lakh hectares of Ken command in Madhya Pradesh,” the project report said.
The project is to be completed in two phases. In the first phase, the Daudhan Dam complex will be completed and in the second, construction of the Lower Orr Dam, Bina Complex Project, and Kotha Barrage.
Nine districts of Madhya Pradesh (Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri, Raisen) and four district of Uttar Prades (Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur) will be covered by the project. It will also help generate 34 MW of hydropower and irrigate 6.3 lakh hectares of land every year.
A project under the National Perspective Plan (NPP), the Ken-Betwa project is estimated to cost ₹44,605 crore. A tripartite agreement for the implementation of the project was signed among the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and the central government on March 22, 2021.