First inter-State river linking project via Tiger Reserve
India’s first inter-State river interlinking project was given a go-ahead by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL).

This would be the first time that a river project will be located within a tiger reserve.

The Rs.10,000-crore Ken-Betwa project will irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region but, in the process, also submerge about 10 per cent of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, feted as a model tiger-conservation reserve.

About the project
The main feature of the project is a 230-km long canal and a series of barrages and dams connecting the Ken and Betwa rivers that will irrigate 3.5 lakh hectares in Madhya Pradesh and 14,000 hectares of Uttar Pradesh, in Bundelkhand.

The Ken Betwa project is divided into two phases and these clearances are only valid for the 1st phase. The wildlife clearance will pave the way for the forest clearance and environment clearance process.

Dislocation of villages due to this project
On the other hand, about 20,000 people in 30 villages will be affected due to the submergence and will have to be resettled.

Seventeen lakh residents of nearby towns and villages in both States will benefit from improved drinking water and irrigation facilities.

According to the NBWL, 6,221 hectares — 4,141 of which is core forest and located inside the reserve — will be inundated when, and if, the proposed reservoir is filled to the brim.