The disaster in Uttarakhand makes the Irrigation Department doubly cautious

In the aftermath of the natural disaster in Uttarakhand, where hundreds of buildings constructed on riverbanks collapsed, the Irrigation Department has become doubly cautious in issuing the ‘no objection certificate’ to various projects on the river front.

While projects proposed by private firms have no chance at all, those being proposed by the government and quasi-government organisations are being closely scrutinised.

A riverfront development project proposed by the Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali-Mangalagiri Urban Development Authority (UDA) has been granted an NOC with not less than 15 conditions, many of which will be very difficult to fulfil.

Vijayawada Irrigation Circle Deputy Superintending Engineer Ramakrishna told The Hindu that an NOC had been issued in response to a letter by the district Collector, who is officiating as Chairman of the UDA board of directors. The conditional NOC issued by the Vijayawada Irrigation Circle Superintending Engineer K.L. Narasimha Murthy said the department reserved several rights under the provisions of the River Conservancy Act, 1884. The department would have the right to take earth from the land whenever required for departmental purposes and the right to inspect the land at any time.

The conditions clearly stipulated that the land should be utilised only for construction of temporary structure with country wood and bamboo. Another condition was that the structures should be on columns to ensure that they were at a height of over 24 metres from the mean sea level, the maximum flood level expected. The garden developed should also not be an obstruction to the flood. No sewage of any kind should be released into the river from the riverfront project.

The NOC said, devotees and pilgrims should be allowed to use both the Bhavani and Punnami ghats to take the holy dip during normal and festival days.

The UDA would be responsible for the safety and evacuation of persons in the developed river front in the event of floods.

The municipal corporation is also asking the department for an NOC to put up solar power panels on irrigation land.

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