Lok Sabha polls: Ken-Betwa link, statehood remain hot-button issues | India News

Lok Sabha polls: Ken-Betwa link, statehood remain hot-button issues | India News

JHANSI/JALAUN/HAMIRPUR/BANDA: Water crisis, a perennial issue in Bundelkhand region, has dominated the discourse in urban and rural areas alike with candidates across party lines raking it up. Added to that are the continuing demand for separate statehood and controversies around the long-pending Ken-Betwa riverlinking project (KBLP).
But neither Congress leader Rahul Gandhi nor SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav talked about the statehood demand at their joint rally in Jhansi and Hamirpur on Tuesday.“We’ve been hearing about the river-linking project, but it has not materialised yet. Groundwater level has also fallen over the years, making it difficult for us to even find water to drink,” says Sanjay Vishwakarma of Atrauli village in Mahoba district, 160km from Jhansi.
Villagers in Banda, Lalitpur and Jhansi districts share similar woes. Though it got a concrete push during the Modi govt’s first term, its implementation was approved only in 2021. The delay was due to objections raised by environmentalists concerned about the region’s natural ecosystem.
The river-linking project will benefit the Bundelkhand region of both MP and UP. Once implemented, the project will provide annual irrigation to 10.6 lakh hectares of land across Chhattarpur, Tikamgarh, Panna, Sagar, Damoh and Datia districts of MP and Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur districts of UP. “But when will it be completed? We have been hearing about it since our childhood,” says Prem Kishan, a 40-year-old farmer from Nehru Nagar in Lalitpur district, 90km from Jhansi.

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