India’s first river inter-linking project Ken-Betwa hits roadblock
India’s first river linking project has run into a roadblock again just when it was thought to be ready for implementation, more than 15 years after it was conceived.
The two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-run states of Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Uttar Pradesh (UP) have failed to agree on water sharing in the pre-monsoon and monsoon months.
The Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken river in MP to Betwa in UP to irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region spread across the two states. A meeting called earlier this month to finalise a memorandum of agreement between the two states hit a deadlock after UP demanded more water in the pre- monsoon months to irrigate the rabi crops sown in the winter.
According to the draft project report, MP was to get 2,650 million cubic metres (MCM) of water and UP 1,700 MCM. “While none of the states has objection to their share according to a previous MoU, Uttar Pradesh wants more water (935 MCM) in pre-monsoon months for rabi crops and less for the monsoon months.
MP, however, is not willing to release the quantity in months with the least rain,” said an official in the ministry of water resources, who did not want to be named. The demand s is for around 150 MCM more than its share for the rabi reason.
Ken-Betwa is one of the 31 river inter linking projects conceived across the country. All statutory clearances, including environmental approval, for the project have been obtained for its implementation.
Officials say the MoA for its implementation was finalised after accommodating inputs from both Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Last year, minister for water resources Nitin Gadkari said at a press conference that disputes between the two states had been resolved. That was until the new impediment arose.
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