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Ken-Betwa project: Integrated Landscape Management Plan prepared

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New Delhi, June 2 (Ajit Weekly News) The final report of Integrated Landscape Management Plan for Greater Panna Landscape in connection with the Ken-Betwa River Link Project was released on Thursday.

“The Integrated Landscape Management Plan provides for better habitat protection, and management of flagship species such as tigers, vultures, and gharial. It will help to holistically consolidate the landscape for biodiversity conservation and human well-being, especially forest dependent communities.

“It is expected to enhance tiger carrying capacity in the landscape by strengthening connectivity with the Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary and the Durgavati Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh and Ranipur Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh,” said an official from the Jal Shakti Ministry.

The Ken-Betwa Link Project was approved by the Centre in December 2021 for implementation following the signing of an agreement on March 22, 2021 between the Union Minister of Jal Shakti and the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This is the first major centrally driven river interlinking project in the country to implement what the government terms as “the vision of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to carry water from areas that have surpluses to drought prone and water deficit areas, through the interlinking of rivers”.

Prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the Integrated Landscape Management Plan was released by Pankaj Kumar, Secretary, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, under the Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change too were present on the occasion.

The project team led by K. Ramesh, scientist at the WII, carried out extensive field work by using advanced scientific tools and techniques, analysed the data and came up with detailed site-specific inputs for the implementation of the proposed activities.

Earlier the Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Project (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had required the landscape management plan and said that the environmental clearance (EC) cannot be given till it is ready and scrutinised by the EAC. That team had refused five times to entertain it without the plan, said Himanshu Thakkar from the South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP).

“However, the EAC was reconstituted in December 2016 and the new team cleared the proposal in the very first meeting without resolving the issues raised by the earlier EAC team. The new plan should now undergo scrutiny by independent experts,” Thakkar said.

The report of the CEC – Central Empowered Committee – is before the Supreme Court. The fundamental issues raised against the project by the CEC still stand irrespective of Thursday’s WII report.

Also, the project does not have the final forest clearance, which has a whole lot of outstanding issues.

–Ajit Weekly News

niv/arm

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