BHOPAL: Unesco has included Panna in its ‘World Network of Biosphere Reserves’ — the third in Madhya Pradesh after Pachmarhi and Amarkantak. It remains to be seen if Unesco recognition impacts the Ken-Betwa river link project in any way.
It was in August 2011 that Panna was notified a biosphere reserve by the Union ministry of environment and forests. Two days ago, the Unesco website announced: “Unesco’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme has included Panna in India and Fuvahmulahand Addu Atoll in the Maldives in World Network of Biosphere Reserves.”
Describing Panna as a “critical tiger habitat”, the Unesco website pointed out that it’s home to the World Heritage site of Khajuraho temples. “Located in the centre of India, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Panna is characterized by forests and marshy vegetation, with an abundance of rare medicinal plants as well as other non-timber forest products, such as kattha, gum and resin,” it says. Will the new status affect the controversial Ken-Betwa linking project in any manner? There is no reaction from the government yet as all eyes are on the November 3 bypolls.
The Rs 280 billion riverlinking project envisages building a 77-metre-high and 2,031m long composite dam across river Ken near village Daudhan in Chhatarpur district of MP. The dam is expected to irrigate 606,980 hectares, provide drinking water to 14 lakh people and generate 78MW hydropower.
It will lead to submergence of over 9,000 hectares — 5,803 hectares of it in Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR).