(News) National Board of Wild Life (NBWL) Standing Committee
has given approval to Ken Betwa Phase 1
Setting aside all controversies surrounding the first of
river interlinking projects, the National Board of Wild Life (NBWL) Standing
Committee has given a go ahead to Phase I of the Rs 9,300 crore Ken-Betwa
project, minutes of its 23rd August, 2016 meeting accessed by ET confirm. The
project will still need a go ahead from the Forest Advisory committee and a
final approval of the Environment minister for implementation - both of which
are unlikely to be troublesome to get.
The river interlinking project to connect the river Ken in
Madhya Pradesh with the Betwa in Uttar Pradesh is aimed at improving water
supply to the Bundelkhand area. It involves submergence of over 4,000 hectares
land in the Panna tiger reserve. The project will result in a direct loss of
tiger habitat of 105 sq.km, loss of vulture nesting sites and disturbances-
issues raised at the meeting by the NTCA.
The go ahead has come with the condition by the NTCA that
three wild life sanctuaries - Nauradehi, Rani Durgavati and Ranipur Wild Life
Sanctuaries - be integrated with Panna reserve to ensure tiger corridor
continuity and dispersal routes. The areas of Chhatarpur and South Panna
Division shall be notified as the buffer of the protected reserve area due their
historical tiger presence.
The Committee as per the minutes of the 39th meeting of the
NBWL Standing Committee "agreed to recommend the proposal" with the conditions
prescribed by the Site Inspection team and National Tiger Conservation
Authority. The minutes note that the Uma Bharti led Water Resources ministry has
agreed to all conditions proposed including integration of sanctuaries, no new
mining leases in the tiger dispersal routes and power generation facilities
outside the reserve.
While the project was given an 'in principle' approval at the
38th meeting on 10th May, 2016 without a site visit, there were differences of
opinion on the height of the water impounding structures and resulting
ecological impact. The minutes state that further consultations were held with
the National Tiger Conservation Authority and hydrological experts on the same.
As per the final views on the combined report, Director
Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has indicated that "the group was convinced
that lowering the dam height by 10 m will result in non-availability of water
for linking because due to nature of the valley, water storage is available only
in top few meters, thereby reduction of 32% in water storage".
Courtesy: The Economic Times