In a major embarrassment for the Bihar government, the inauguration of the Rs 389.31 crore Ganga pump canal scheme by the chief minister today was cancelled after a canal wall collapsed and the gushing waters inundated parts of a township. The wall broke up after being forcefully hit by the Ganga river waters when the pump was switched on for a trial run yesterday at Bateshwarsthan in Bhagalpur district. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was scheduled to inaugurate the canal scheme, which was aimed at providing irrigation facilities in the state and neighbouring Jharkhand.
The water gushed into Kahalgaon and inundated areas in NTPC township as well some civil areas including the residence of the Kahalgaon civil judge and the sub-judge. “The proposed programme of the chief minister at Bhagalpur today has been cancelled due to technical reasons,” an official statement said in Patna yesterday.
Advertisements were inserted in newspapers yesterday about the inauguration of the project by the CM in the presence of Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan and local Congress MLA Sadanand Singh. RJD workers burnt an effigy of Kumar and Lallan in Bhagalpur, alleging corruption in construction of the project. Principal Secretary of Water Resources department Arun Kumar Singh along with the Bhagalpur DM and SP were supervising efforts to drain out water from the NTPC township and some civil areas of Kahalgaon, around 3 km from the project site. “Sand bags are being put to check flow of water,” Arun Singh told reporters.
The canal is a joint scheme of Bihar and Jharkhand, under which 18,620 hectares of land in Bhagalpur would get irrigation facility while 4038 hectares of areas in Godda district of Jharkhand would be irrigated, a government brochure on the project said. The Rs 389.31 crore project has a total irrigation capacity of 27603 hectares out of which 22816 is in Bihar and 4887 hectares in Jharkhand. The Planning Commission had originally approved the project in 1977 at an estimated cost of Rs 13.88 crore. The first administrative approval to the project was provided in 2008 involving a cost of Rs 389.31 crore, the brochure said.