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Ken-Betwa river linking, India

The Ken-Betwa link project envisages diversion of waters from Ken basin to Betwa basin affecting wildlife biodiversity, migration paths and a land loss of a bigger national reserve.


The Ken-Betwa link project envisages diversion of waters from Ken basin to Betwa basin. The quantity of water proposed to be diverted from Ken basin is 1020 Mm3. The diversion spot is planned at a dam across river Ken in Chhatarpur district in Madhya Pradesh; it is projected to divert water for irrigation, drinking water purposes and generation of 78 MW hydropower through a dam at Daudhan of 77 meters high and 2,031 meters wide. The project comprises two powerhouses of 2x30 MW and 3x6 MW each, two tunnels of 1.9 km long upper level, 1.1 km long tunnel lower level and a 221 km long canal will also be built to transfer the water from the Ken to the Betwa river basin. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ken-Betwa river linking, India
State or province:Madhya Pradesh - Uttar Pradesh
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Dams and water distribution conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Land acquisition conflicts
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Extracted from the EXECUTIVE SUMMARY of the project from the NWDA, Government of India website:

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Project area:4,140-9,200
Level of Investment:aprox 1,354,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:10 villages consisting of 1,585 families
Start of the conflict:01/01/1980
Relevant government actors:Environment Water Agency Development (Government of India)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Panna Parivartan Evam Vikas Manch
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDPR),
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Food insecurity (crop damage), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Other socio-economic impacts, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Other socio-economic impactsLoss of tourism
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the numerous protests, the project which will affect thousands of people and the protected wildlife, got approved lately by the MoEF in 2018, ignoring the will of the communities living in the proximity.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Strategic Analyses of the National River Linking Project (NRLP) of India - Paper 7
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Interlinking of Rivers in India: Overview and Ken-Betwa Link
[click to view]

Inter Linking of Rivers: Analysis of Ken-Betwa Link in India
[click to view]

Catch News - Playing with fire: Ken-Betwa & the flawed logic of river-linking
[click to view]

Bussines Standard - Can Ken-Betwa river link project turn the tide on December deadline?
[click to view]

India Water Portal - Norms violated for Ken-Betwa river link's public hearing: Activists
[click to view]

DNA India - MoEF defers green clearance for Ken-Betwa river link
[click to view]

The Economic Times - Modi government to link Ken, Betwa rivers by year-end
[click to view]

The Free Press Journal - Ignoring protests, Wildlife Board clears Ken-Betwa project
[click to view]

[4] Down to earth - Public hearings for Ken-Betwa river link project a sham, complain activists
[click to view]

The Economic Times - Ken-Betwa river link project to impact Panna Tiger Reserve: EAC
[click to view]

Business-Standard - Ken-Betwa river linking project: MP govt mulls creation of 8,000-ha buffer zone
[click to view]

[3] Live mint - Environment activists pick holes in Ken-Betwa river linking plan
[click to view]

[8] Interlinks of Rivers, information from Ministry of Water Resources
[click to view]

[5] The Times of India - Madhya Pradesh board snubs protests, clears Ken-Betwa rivers link project
[click to view]

[10] The Week. 'Rajmata of Panna princely state hits streets to oppose Ken-Betwa project'. July 12, 2017. Author: Deepak Thivari
[click to view]

[2] DowntoEarth - Modi's victory may mean push for Ken-Betwa river-link project
[click to view]

The Times of India - Madhya Pradesh board snubs protests, clears Ken-Betwa rivers link project
[click to view]

[8]Hindustan Times. 'Madhya Pradesh: Ken-Betwa river linking project runs into troubled waters' , July 8, 2017, Author: Anupam Pateriya
[click to view]

[6] The Wire 'Ken-Betwa River Link-up Approved, Tiger Reserve to Be Submerged' Sept 22, 2016. Author: Nitin Sethi
[click to view]

[7] Hindustan Time 'Opposing Ken Betwa river link project may be the reason behind transfer of Panna tiger reserve director', May 9, 2015
[click to view]

Other documents

Dams, Rivers & People - Violations in Ken Betwa EIA and Public Hearing Process: Sign of times to come?
[click to view]

NWDA - Executive Project Summary
[click to view]

Ken Betwa Link Project - Phase I
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:M. Pilar Martínez Morlanes - Máster en Gestión Fluvial Sostenible y Gestión Integrada de Aguas, Asignatura ‘Ecología política y gestión de Aguas’
Last update18/08/2019
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