NEW DELHI: Country’s first river inter-linking project, linking Ken and Betwa rivers in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh has hit another hurdle with Niti Aayog raising concerns over funding pattern for the project proposed by the union ministry of water resources.
The ministry has proposed that Ken-Betwa interlinking project being a national project should be taken under center state assistance ration of 90:10 while the Niti Aayog has recommended that funding should be under Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) which means 60:40 center state sharing.
“Funding pattern is being worked out. I have also informed Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister). Niti Aayog has told us that it should be taken under AIBP funding but now I have requested that being a national project it should be considered for 90:10 funding. There is a change in funding pattern and that is being worked out,” said Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti.
The project has already missed its December 2015 commencement deadline and is yet to receive forest clearance from the ministry of environment and forests. It received wildlife clearance earlier this year for the project would submerge critical tiger habitat.
The ministry of water resources pushed 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.
The project was initially mooted in the early 1980s and was actively taken by the NDA government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee but then it was challenged in the Supreme Court. The apex court finally in 2013 asked the UPA government to start the process but it kept sitting on it and a Group of Ministers (GoM) on the river interlinking under Pranab Mukherjee did not even meet once.
The project has been revived by the NDA government under Narendra Modi and Rs 100 crore was allotted in 2014 to expedite preparation of detailed project reports.