Central nod for national project status for Upper Bhadra

Bulk of the funds for the irrigation project will now come from the Centre.   | Photo Credit: File Photo

In what could bring cheer to farmers in the parched central Karnataka region, the Upper Bhadra project has received approval from the Centre to be declared a “national project”. The two-decade-old project, now estimated to cost ₹21,450 crore, will be the first from the State to receive the national project tag and will now receive the bulk of the funds from the Centre.

The Upper Bhadra project is designed to irrigate 2.25 lakh hectares in Chitradurga, Davangere, Tumakuru, and parts of Chikkamagaluru. Only projects covering over 2 lakh hectares under drip irrigation qualify to receive funding from the Centre if they receive national project status.

“The Central Water Commission (CWC) has approved the national project status for Upper Bhadra project and the technical advisory committee meeting this month will approve it. The State Finance Department’s concurrence will be issued shortly,” said Lakshman Rao Peshwe, MD of Visvesvaraya Jala Nigam Ltd. (VJNL).

Since 2015, when the State first sought national status for the project, work has been on to seek approval from various departments. “To meet the parameters to qualify for national project status, no-objection certificate is a must from 12 departments. Over the past two years, NOC has been obtained from eight departments; NOC had been obtained from four departments earlier,” Mr. Peshwe said.

Conceived in 2000, the project received administrative approval in 2003 at an estimated cost of ₹2,813 crore. The project cost escalated over the years because of land acquisition issues, delay in securing forest clearances, increase in extent of command area, cost escalation, introduction of GST, and change of character from flow irrigation to drip irrigation. At present, just about 16% of the total work has been completed.

Funds from Centre

“With the Upper Bhadra project getting national project status, the Centre is expected to provide about ₹16,125 crore of the ₹21,473 crore cost. The funds could start flowing in as early as January 2021, and the project could be completed in about three years,” Mr. Peshwe said.

While the total project cost is ₹21,473 crore, that includes drip laterals. The CWC has finalised the project cost at ₹16,125 crore. The drip laterals work, to establish a wide network for drip irrigation, is estimated to cost ₹5,348 crore. So far, Karnataka has spent ₹3,400 crore on the project on Tarikere lift irrigation and Ajjampura tunnel, among others.

In preparation of the ground for fund release from the Centre, the VJNL board recently approved a proposal seeking the Finance Department’s concurrence on the cost appraisal of the project worked out by the Central Water Commission. It has sought the government's approval for revising the cost of the project based on the cost appraisal arrived at by the CWC. Once it is approved, a Government Order will come through, which will be sent to the Centre as concurrence.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 4:14:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/central-nod-for-national-project-status-for-upper-bhadra/article33253665.ece

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