NEW DELHI: Controversy continues over country’s first river linking project, Ken-Betwa, as the wildlife panel of the environment ministry has given a go ahead for diversion of forest from the Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary for a road widening project. The Sanctuary was proposed to be added to the Panna Tiger Reserve in lieu of land being diverted for river-inter linking.
The standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) of the ministry of environment and forests has recommended a proposal for diversion of 39.75 ha of forest land from Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary for widening of existing 2-lane to 4-lane of NH-12.
Nauradehi sanctuary is a part of the area proposed to be added to Panna Tiger Reserve in lieu of the diverted area for Ken-Betwa link. The project has been recommended with certain mitigation measures and conditions like animal underpasses, provision of chain link fencing and construction of artificial water bodies.
The minutes also noted that this infrastructure project which will improve the connectivity between the Jabalpur, Bhopal and other district of Madhya Pradesh.
Nauradehi Sanctuary is a part of the area proposed to be added to Panna Tiger Reserve in lieu of the diverted area for Ken-Betwa Link Canal, which is expected to submerge 10 percent of unique and critical tiger habitat area.
Ken-Betwa project was recommended for grant of environment clearance last month by forest advisory committee of the ministry.
The project costing Rs 10,000 crore has already missed its December 2015 commencement deadline. After work begins, it will take minimum 9 years for completion.
The ministry of water resources, which will be implementing the project, has been pushing for the project saying the project would ensure availability of water to drought prone areas in the both the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Besides, the ministry said that it would provide annual irrigation to about 6 lakh hectares of land and drinking water facility to 13.42 lakh people in both the states.