Bolangir: The fate of the Lower Suktel Irrigation Project (LSIP) which aims at changing the face of agriculture and drinking water supply in drought-prone Bolangir district is allegedly stuck in limbo due to host of reasons like funds crunch and rehabilitation issues, a report said.
Moreover, with the Centre not releasing a pie for the project since last three years from 2017-18, has further pushed the fate of the project into uncertainty. The Suktel dam aims to provide irrigation to 31,830 hectares of land in three blocks of Bolangir district, namely Bolangir, Punitala and Loisingha, besides Tarbha block of Subarnapur district.
Rehabilitation issues are scuttling the completion of the project. The issues on compensation and rehabilitation for residents of 29 villages affected by the project have posed major problem for the state government.
The government is claiming to have acquired lands in 15 villages but it has failed construct necessary infrastructures in the areas identified for rehabilitation of the displaced villagers. Moreover, the displaced villagers of Pardihiapali, Koindapali and Khuntapali are insisting on rehabilitation and compensation on the basis of 2013 Land Acquisition Act which has posed a challenge for the state government.
Sources said that despite opposition, 70 per cent of the spillway works and 40 per cent of the soil embankment works for the project have been completed.
It is apprehended that the project might never see the light of the day as works on the dam have remained stopped since last 19 months.
The doubts were raised after the consultancy agencies started removing some machineries installed at the project site. The construction of the project has been taken up under Centre-state partnership mode as per a ratio fixed by both the stakeholders.
The project has remained a vexed issue since last 20 years as over Rs 1,500 crore have been spent on the project so far. The state government and Centre have both sanctioned funds for the project.
The state government has sanctioned Rs 1,000 crore for the project while Rs 500 crore is what the Centre gave away. However, since 2017-18 fiscal, the Centre has not released even a pie for the project, sources from the Lower Suktel project office said.
With financial assistance from the Centre dwindling, the state government launched Water Sector Institutional Development Programme (WSIDP) and has sanctioned Rs 634 crore for the project. The Centre under its Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) has sanctioned Rs 871 crore for the project from 1997-98 to 2017-18 fiscal.
According to an analysis, the plan outlay for the project was initially estimated at Rs 217.13 crore in 1996 and later the plan outlay was revised and increased to Rs 1,041.81 crore in 2009. Later, the Centre approved a raise in the project cost to Rs 2,448.09 in 2015 for the second time.
However, the project went on getting delayed for various reasons following which the plan outlay went on increasing and has now crossed over Rs 3,600 crore. As a result, the project is not showing any signs of an early completion with uncertainty looming large over it.
When contacted, project chief engineer Prabhat Ranjan Rout ruled out any abrupt closure of the project. He said that there is no chance of any closure of the project as the Chief Minister before visiting Bolangir February 15 had reviewed the project in Bhubaneswar the previous day.
|Cost (in crores)||Year|
|Rs 3,600||Present day|