First river link deal

Ken-Betwa link MoU signed

By Kushal Pal Singh Yadav
Published: Friday 30 September 2005

the first memorandum of understanding (mou) for India's controversial interlinking of rivers (ilr) programme was signed on August 25, 2005, by Uttar Pradesh (up) chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and Madhya Pradesh (mp) chief minister Babulal Gaur. The tripartite agreement, also involving the Union minister of water resources Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, aims to interlink Ken and Betwa rivers and has been signed on the basis of a feasibility report.

Under the Rs 4,000 crore plus-project, water from Ken river will be diverted to Betwa river through a 231 kilometres link transportation canal. The process for signing the mou was initiated in late March 2005, when the Union ministry of water resources circulated a draft mou. up had raised many relief, rehabilitation and environmental concerns. Dasmunsi had said these would be addressed while preparing the detailed project report (dpr) of the link. But till now, only the feasibility report is available, which too was made public only after the Supreme Court intervened in late 2004. Even this report has not yet been approved by the Technical Advisory Committee of National Water Development Agency, the government says. Experts also point out that the feasibility report is based on dated and inadequate data: the population data is based on the 1981 census and agricultural statistics are from the period 1987-88 to 1991-92. Besides, while the dpr is to cost Rs 30 crore, Dasmunsi has said the allocation for it is only Rs 6 crore. "We'll soon have a meeting on the dpr and only then we will be able to decide on the amount required... ," he added.

Dasmunsi has said four river linking projects are in the pipeline. But prime minister Manmohan Singh, while answering a question in the Rajya Sabha, did not promise quick results. The next project most likely to be taken up is the Mahanadi-Godavari link. Rajasthan and mp have also agreed to go-ahead with the Parbati-Kalisindh-Chambal project.

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