top of page
  • Sumesh Lekhi

An Appeal regarding Ken-Betwa river linking

LETTER OF APPEAL TO THE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA Mr.Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India 23rd March 2021 Sub: Re: The beauty of the pristine and untouched Ken river and species around the river are showcased in the attached video moments from film series on Panna Tiger Reserve. An Appeal to leave Panna Tiger Reserve and other forest areas pristine and untouched and request to not disturb the Ken River that supports a wide fantastic array of wildlife species- many species here are endangered or critically endangered. The river is magical and showcases true divinity & power of Nature. Dear Sir, As you know and are also proud of, Panna Tiger Reserve is the jewel in India’s crown. Not only for Indian conservation history, but it is an exemplary conservation model for the whole world. It has taken a decade of herculean efforts by many coordinated Indian teams to make this stunning tiger reserve an optimum and model wildlife habitat so that reintroduced tigers could thrive along with the huge diaspora of wildlife species. And today the tigers are thriving. The world has taken note of India’s great pride in our increased tiger numbers. Even your respected self has spoken loftily about this and personally highlighted this across the world. Sir, you would have already been made aware that the Ken-Betwa linkage Project in its current form will destroy and fragment almost 11,000 hectares of the Panna Tiger Reserve and surrounding landscapes and will lead to the destruction of a minimum estimate of 23 lakhs of ancient original mixed forest trees. This has been pointed out by the SC appointed Panel. The huge destruction of natural cover would in fact be counter-effective to the government’s noble idea of increasing India’s water self-sufficiency, as such large-scale destruction of prime forests and trees are the prime reasons why the weather pattern is becoming more erratic; and why there are climatic extremes ie widespread drought and flash floods. The water situation has become even more extreme due to extreme human pressure on ground water and aquifers. The intentions of the government would be noble, but if such plans ultimately cause large scale devastation in core areas of National Parks and are decade long projects, they will surely have disastrous irreversible permanent effects on the environment and forests that have been alive from ancient times. Even the benefits to humans will be short lived. Some observations: - 1) The Ken river as reported, does not seem to have the surplus water that is being made out to be the basis of this project. 2) The Ken river is at best already serving natural and human areas at an optimum level (in human terms). Any changes in its course or any hindrance to its flow will be devastating to all life depending on it. As the narrator says in the attached video “..rivers are our mothers, let rivers flow unhindered…and that rivers are like God” We should think hard before tampering with our natural legacies. The devastating effect of such tampering is already being seen in our lifetimes itself, be it the floods in Uttarkhand, Kerala, flash floods across the Nation, and also drought. 3) Let water/rain catchment areas remain, let forests that protect and even feed rivers remain. Reduction of forest and felling of trees is already dramatically affecting climate patterns. 4) If economic benefit is what we seek, then an economist might as well look at forests and rivers as “big fat golden geese” and leave them untouched, as they have looked after generation of humans and will continue to do so. So, let’s not tamper with them… let them continue to benefit human civilization. Uttarkhand, Kerala and many other areas are already ringing alarm bells about the effects of tampering with nature. 5) Even in drought effected areas, villagers claim that in earlier years, even during the time of the year when river flow decreased, then ground water and aquifers would renew the rivers and the local pools. But now, because of the intense pressure on groundwater, this phenomenon is no longer seen as even groundwater is drying up. 6) Villagers say that natural floods even fertilize their agricultural areas as flood waters bring with them nutrients. Thus, need for dangerous fertilizers is reduced. No doubt flash floods cause devastation, but then dams & constructions that are blocking the flow of water are also causes due to which these floods are happening in recent years. Canals could be created so that during floods, water is channeled off to drought prone areas. 7) But why destroy forests and dam water for this? In Kerala it was the dam that caused the flooding. The ministries can confirm the details. So both ie Destruction of forests and Reduction of groundwater is further increasing the water problem. 9) Dams being built alter the flow of water and this in turn effects the natural life cycle of many wildlife/species that depend on the rivers. Dams maybe important for power generation, distribution of water etc, but more thought should go into building them without submerging prime forests or leading to other disasters including flash flooding and disappearance of floral and faunal species. 10) The ken river supports a delicate riverine ecosystem and this plan will have a disastrous effect on wildlife and the ancient forests/land features that have taken millennia to evolve into the fantastic wildlife habitats they are today. We understand that there are many regions of Bundelkhand including its 13 districts that are sought to be benefited from such linkage, but we request that these pristine National Parks and natural areas that are the very mother and nurturer of these rivers, are not tampered with. Our governments are fortunate to be governing in the 21st century, which is ushering in unprecedented gains in technology, human collective wisdom and vision. We request that the government can surely put their best advisors in the forefront so that the National Parks are not disturbed, but at the same time human populations can benefit from the government’s vision, ingenuity and empathetic task force. Coming to Panna Tiger Reserve, the government can definitely benefit from the advice of veteran foresters and planners who know the Tiger Reserve very well and can be of great assistance to the government in devising and assisting in various sub-plans which can feed a Master Plan that ultimately helps in a realistic long-term solution to provide drinking water and irrigation facilities to Bundelkhand/13 districts without destroying Pristine Panna. Respect for Nature and life has always been the Indian way of living. We always prefix our rivers with the word Ma before them. Hopefully in our deeds and in reality, we can accord the same respect to natural areas, wildlife and rivers. Let her protect and provide for us and let her flow be unhindered. I am sure that it is in the heart of most citizens to make this humble request. A request that these natural areas remain untouched. In recent times citizens are becoming more aware and are really taking environmental issues to heart. Going forward the most important legacy, that leaders and governments will leave behind, is the profound and direct effect their leadership made in preserving the Nation’s natural spaces, forests, wildlife & rivers. Even today I personally take great pride, even while talking internationally, about the innate respect, Indians have for wildlife and forests compared to almost all western nations that lost most of their original forests and wildlife centuries ago, and even today grant open seasons. Sir, you are the Champion of Earth, lauded by the UN and the world and as citizens we would also like to remember this title given to our PM. Hopefully our government will go down in history, as a government that truly believes that the Earth is our mother and we are it’s children. And hope the Governments with their actions teach the world how our ancient forests and rivers should be respected माता भूमिः पुत्रोऽहं पृथिव्याः। Please note that every single species appearing in these video moments from our film series on Panna Tiger Reserve has been filmed only at the Ken river. This is the fantastic biodiversity the Ken supports. Even the smallest of disruption will wreak havoc in the lives of wildlife species. Even the fish in the series have been filmed with cameras submerged in the pristine waters of the Ken river. Please Protect it “Hopefully all development goals can be achieved with technology & the collective wealth of wisdom through our esteemed experts, while protecting our forests, rivers and natural areas” Attached: Low res video moments

With respect and a Sincere Appeal to you and Ministries,

6 views0 comments


bottom of page