Ken-Betwa Link Project has more questions than answers

June, 12, 2018

(Pics have been taken from Google. I don’t claim ownership of any pic)

Ken-Betwa Link, linking these two rivers, is in news these days. These rivers originate in Vindhya region of Madhya Pradesh, and travel through Bundelkhand, before merging with River Yamuna in Bundelkhand.

Ken is a smaller river compared to Betwa. Ken used to be a perennial river, but has become almost a seasonal river over last several decades due to a variety of reasons. Deforestation and massive sand mining are two important reasons. Not much flow is in the river during post-Monsoon season.

Following links provide some insight into the subject. ūüĎáūüĎá

Amazing experience of Yatra along the Majestic Ken River

Ken river is an important source of livelihood for people in Panna and Banda Districts of Bundelkhand. Not only it provides drinking water, but it also provides water for irrigation.

National Water Development Agency (NWDA), under Union Government of India, calls Ken river to be a “water surplus” river and Betwa river to be a “water deficit” river. They want to link Ken river with Betwa river via a canal. This will divert water from Ken to Betwa river near Tikamgarh. This would help people mostly in Chhattarpur, Jhansi and Tikamgarh.

Everybody, who has any real knowledge about river Ken, knows that Ken doesn’t have much water. NWDA has not publicly disclosed as to how they call Ken to be “water surplus”.

River-linking projects are supposed to deal with the issues of recurring droughts and floods in India. There are a total of 30 such projects-14 in Himalayan basin and 16 in peninsular basin. Ken-Betwa link is under the latter category.

There is much concern about Ken-Betwa link project.

  1. NWDA has not disclosed how Ken is a water surplus system, when there is no practical evidence of it.
  2. There has not been a proper and transparent consultation with people.
  3. There is serious lack of awareness about it among people. I called up several people in Banda, UP today. They either didn’t know much about it or, worse, felt that water will flow from Betwa to Ken.
  4. Out of 78MW electricity produced from the dams, which will be constructed under the project, almost 30% of the electricity will be consumed in pumping water from Ken into a higher altitude Betwa river.
  5. This project will help Chhattarpur, Jhansi and Tikamgarh, but is unlikely to help Panna, Banda and Mahoba. There is a real risk that people in Banda and Panna will be severely affected.
  6. The project appears to be based on unscientific and unverifiable data. If the data is scientific, it has not been publicly shared.
  7. Ken needs to be a flowing river, but it’s not certain if it will be so, with recent agreement between UP & MP Governments.

I am originally from the region of Banda/Panna and know the situation regarding Ken river.

I am concerned about the real possibility of major harm coming to people along the Ken river, because of diversion of water from Ken river, without full understanding and explanation of the pros & cons. It doesn’t make much sense to help a set of people at the cost of another set of people. Political consideration of any particular politician(s) can’t be the justification for any project.

Local MPs-Mr Bhairav Prasad Mishra, Mr Pushpendra Singh Chandel and Mr Vishambhar Prasad Nishad, as well as local MLAs/MLCc, must take a keen interest in the pros and cons of the project, and make their voices heard. Keeping mum is not an option.

Local media too must study this project and raise the appropriate issues.

Intelligentsia from the local region, especially Banda and Panna, must discharge its duties, just like Rajmata from Panna did recently.

Dr Yadu Singh

Annual deaths of 1.46 Lac (146,000) Indians on Indian roads is avoidable

21st April, 2016

1.46 Lac (146,000) people died on Indian roads in 2015. 400 people died every day. These numbers are 5% more than a year earlier.

There were over 5 Lacs (500,000) accidents on Indian roads in 2015 compared to 4.89 Lacs (489,000) a year before.

India holds a shameful records of being number 1 on the road fatalities.

Uttar Pradesh is on the top among Indian states, followed by Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan.

This TOI article should give you the details.

Besides deaths, there are many (I assume at least double of the fatalities)  with serious and debilitating injuries, which are not in the fatality numbers, but no less important statistics.

Something needs to be done to control this massacre on Indian roads. Indian Transport minister, Nitin Gadkari,  wants to reduce these numbers by 50% by 2020. I hope he succeeds.

We remember that a central minister died in Delhi due to a road accident in 2014.

Causes for these massive numbers are many and include;

  • poor quality roads
  • unsafe vehicles
  • rash driving
  • poor quality of drivers’ training
  • alcohol and drugs use
  • poor compliance of traffic rules
  • poor enforcement of traffic rules’ violations
  • unnecessary risk taking
  • speeding
  • low use of seat belts

Many things will need to be done. Public education on traffic rules and safe driving should be a key element of this campaign to reduce these fatalities.

Seat belts must be made compulsory for every passenger.

Traffic rules must be enforced with heavy punishment including fines and jail time for serious violators.

This is a national problem. Minister Gadkari and State transport ministers will need to work together and form a plan to deal with with this unnecessary and preventable massacre on Indian roads.

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/ Australia