NEW DELHI: Country’s first river inter-linking project, linking Ken and Betwa rivers in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh has finally got clearance from environment and tribal affairs ministry removing some hurdles for the launch of project which was slated for commencement in December 2015.
The project was stuck for want of environment, wildlife and forest clearance. While it got wildlife clearance last year, environment clearance came towards fag end of 2016.
“The environment appraisal committee has duly considered the project and agreed for project in its meeting held on December 30, 2016. The ministry of Tribal Affairs has also agreed for the tribal clearance of the project on January 2, 2017,” said the ministry of water resources in an official document circulated Tuesday.
The Forest Advisory committee of the environment ministry has considered the proposal for forest clearance during its meeting held on November 8, 2016 and decided to have some additional information before giving clearance.
The ministry is also concerned about the funding pattern for the project and Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti has held meeting with Niti Aayog and finance ministry to sort out the issues.
The ministry had proposed that being a national project, Ken-Betwa interlinking project should be taken under centre 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 centre state sharing.
The project has already missed its December 2015 commencement deadline. 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 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.