Properly planned water resource development and management has the ability to alleviate poverty, improve the quality of life, reduce regional disparities and to maintain the integrity of the natural environment. In an effort to address the threat of water scarcity, the Indian government has proposed an ambitious and costly water resource development project to interlink a majority of the country's major rivers known as the Inter-River Linking Project (IRL). The Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) is the pilot component of the national plan. This project involves connecting the Ken and Betwa rivers through the creation of a dam, reservoir, and canal to provide storage for excess rainfall during the monsoon season as a means to divert the water for consumption and irrigation purposes. The KBLP has become a heated point of controversy in India as questions about the motivation behind it and its feasibility stall implementation. The Indian government has released a Feasibility Report discussing the potential impacts of the project on the surrounding environment, but there is much to be desired in the detail of the description and analysis of the project. Due to the general nature of the Feasibility Report there is insufficient evidence to determine if the KBLP is the appropriate management policy for this area.
Using GIS analysis, literature reviews, and focus group interviews, this report addresses three major points of criticism surrounding the KBLP: hydrologic, wildlife, and social impacts. The research in this report provides an interdisciplinary contribution to the discussion on the feasibility of this water management plan. The findings presented here substantiate the criticisms of the KBLP that indicate it is not an appropriate management strategy for the water resources of the area, however cannot solely be used to justified or disputed it. Rather, it is hoped that decision-makers, NGOs, and other stakeholders will use the information provided in this report to develop a thoughtful and responsible plan of action for water management of the area through further meaningful research.
Kelli Krueger, MS-Aquatic
Frances Segovia, MS-Behavior
Monique Toubia, MS-Environmental Justice