Finally, hope for Bansagar project

There is finally hope for the long-languishing Bansagar irrigation project. A tender for completing the project, which aims to provide irrigation to over 1.5 lakh hectares of agricultural land in Allahabad and Mirzapur, has been awarded to a private company which is expected to complete the work in two years at a cost of Rs 402 crore.

A senior Irrigation Department official said: "The tender has been awarded and the signing of the agreement will be completed soon. Also, some other bottlenecks related to the project are in the process of being removed."

Approved back in 1970s as a joint venture between MP and UP, besides Bihar, work on the project in UP began only in 1990 at an approved cost of Rs 635.49 crore. The cost was revised in 2006-07 to Rs 2,058.61 crore.

Nearly six months ago, the project was in the news for suspension of nine engineers, including one chief engineer, by Irrigation Minister Shivpal Yadav on account of laxity and anomalies in allotment of project works.

Officials said that one of the major problems in the execution of the project earlier was multitude of contractors at the local level. Therefore, a decision was taken at the top level to entrust the work to a single entity. "The contracts of all those who left the work midway have been cancelled," the official said.

Other bottlenecks were construction of a bridge on National Highway No. 75 near Mohaniya Ghati village in Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh; clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) for taking the canal to Meja barrage through 180.79 ha land belonging to the Forest Department, and rehabilitation of at least 13 villages in Meja area that fall in the canal's alignment.

Officials said that the bridge, under which the canal would cross over into UP from MP, is almost complete. In 2003-04, the MP government had been paid Rs 1.9 crore for the construction of the bridge, but there was no progress. The Irrigation Department is now getting the work completed at nearly Rs 3 crore and the work is likely to be completed soon, said a source.

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