One of the tributaries of the Yamuna, the Ken, is a major river of the Bundelkhand region of central India and flows through two states, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. River Ken regulates groundwater recharge and provides vegetation found on its banks. It is also flush with fish and the sand found here is an important commodity.
In the light of the proposed diversion of water from Ken, it is crucial to note that any change in the flow of the river may stifle its ecosystem services. Apart from recharging groundwater and sustaining a thriving fishing sector that provides livelihood to many, the river also provides water for the Panna Tiger Reserve, Gharial Sanctuary and the Raneh Falls—all of which are main tourist attractions.
The river transports and distributes sand and sediments free of cost that are utilised for construction. So then, would one make fundamental changes to an enterprise worth millions of rupees without thoroughly studying its overall impact?
The proposed flow diversion under the interlinking project will impact the downstream areas in Banda, Panna and Chhatarpur districts. The impact of the diversion of the flow on groundwater recharge, sand, fish, riparian vegetation and water quality in the downstream areas needs to be assessed before putting it into action. A detailed policy must be formulated to regulate sand extraction based on its seasonal availability and other smaller rivers should be studied to develop an appropriate methodology and framework for the evaluation of river ecosystem services.
Often in our attempt to maximise benefits from rivers for irrigation, domestic and industrial water supply and hydropower, we treat our rivers merely as channels or sources of water when, in fact, they are so much more than that. Rivers are, unequivocally, renewable treasure chests and should be preserved not only to enjoy its perks now but also for generations to come.
‘Lets Invest in Nature’ (#LetsInvestInNature) is a special series of video stories designed by the Indo-German Biodiversity Programme. It is dedicated to estimating and mainstreaming the true economic value of biodiversity in business-related decisions and policy making. Watch this short video for more information.