41 years on, Jharkhand’s Konar irrigation project inauguration today

Source: hindustantimes.com

The much-delayed Konar irrigation project, foundation of which was laid in 1978 with estimated cost of Rs 11.43 crore, will finally be inaugurated after 41 years on Wednesday when its estimated cost rose to Rs 2,176.25 crore.

Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das will inaugurate a part of the project which include 25-meter intake structure, 4.29-km tunnel, 2.04-km tunnel extension and 2.28-km canal at Bishnugarh in Hazaribag, irrigation department officials said on Tuesday.

Canal work of 103.14 kilometers covering 30 villages of Hazaribag and Giridih has been completed at cost of Rs 477 crore. Rest 301-km canal work will be done by 2021, officials said.

The irrigation project meant to rejuvenate over 62,955 hectare farmland of three districts – Hazaribag, Bokaro and Giridih covering 85 villages – was mooted in early 70s by the then Bihar government.

The water from the Konar dam will be supplied to farmland.

The idea was to use the water from Konar dam, built by Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) in Hazaribag and inaugurated by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1955, for irrigation purpose. Then Bihar governor Jagannath Kaushal had laid the foundation of the irrigation project in September 1978. The cost of the project was then estimated at Rs 11.43 crore.

However, the project hanged in balance since 1980 after the death of five labourers during construction of tunnel, officials said.

The project was further delayed due to various reasons such as shortage of funds, problems in land acquisition, forest clearance and others. After creation of Jharkhand in November 2000, the project got breather again.

The then Jharkhand chief minister, Arjun Munda, again laid foundation of the tunnel in 2003. However, contractor left the work midway. In 2012, tender for the project was again floated and work was again started in 2013.

As per the price index of 2017, the cost of the project was revised to Rs 2,176.25 crore and Rs 477.19 crore has already been spent by July 2019, the officials said.

Executive engineer of irrigation department in Hazaribag, Abhishek Minz, said that the canal work of 103.14 kilometers covering 30 villages of Hazaribag and Giridih had already been completed.

“The total canal length from Hazaribag to Bokaro via Giridih is 404.17 kilometers. We have fixed deadline to complete the rest 301 km canal by 2021. Once the project gets completed, all 85 villages from 14 blocks of three district would get irrigation facility,” Minz said.

Minz said land acquisition and forest clearance had been bottlenecks for the project, as they took much time.

“This is why, department has now decided to cover 267.42 km through pipeline instead of open channel,” Minz said.