Karnataka

Mahadayi project cost skyrockets by 1,674% since inception

A view of the Mahadayi. The cost of the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project has risen steeply from about ₹94 crore in 2000 to ₹1,677.30 crore now.

A view of the Mahadayi. The cost of the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project has risen steeply from about ₹94 crore in 2000 to ₹1,677.30 crore now.  

Application to release 258 hectares of reserve forest area for the Kalasa project that falls under the reservoir’s catchment area is pending before MoEF

As the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project in the Mahadayi basin drags on over the inter-State river water dispute, the cost over the last 20 years has risen steeply from about ₹94 crore in 2000 to ₹1,677.30 crore now. Only a section of the project is nearing completion, with work on both reservoirs yet to be taken up owing to forest clearance.

Two canals

When the State government on August 22, 2000 gave its administrative approval to the project — conceived to supply drinking water to areas in Bombay Karnataka region — the estimated cost of Kalasa Nala was ₹44.78 crore, while that of Banduri Nala was ₹49.2 crore. A latest estimate prepared by the Water Resources Department has put the cost at ₹885.8 and ₹791.5 crore, respectively, taking the total to ₹1,677.3 crore. In 2013, when the expenditure on the project was revised, it was estimated to cost ₹840.52 crore.

From 2000 till now, the jump has been 1,674% and since 2013 when the estimates were revised, the increase has been by 93.98%.

Sources said that while the Supreme Court has asked the Union government to notify the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal’s award, the State is now looking to seek its notification, and forest approvals. Since it is a drinking water project, the Environment Impact Assessment requirement has been waived. According to government sources, the application to release 258 hectares of reserve forest area for the Kalasa project that falls under the reservoir’s catchment area is pending before the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Similarly, an application to release 242.51 hectares of forest area for the Banduri project is also pending before the MoEF. “We expect approvals for these applications after the notification,” sources said.

Awaiting sanction

Sources said that the reservoir and the canal under the Banduri section are yet to be taken up as most of the project area comes under forests, and the State is yet to get sanction from the Central Water Commission and MoEF.

Government sources also pointed out that in the Kalasa project, the 5.15 km-canal has almost been completed after a long delay owing to challenging conditions that involved loose soil and work taken up for only four months in a year. Since the reservoir catchment falls in forests, work is yet to be taken up, sources said. So far, ₹244.89 crore has been spent on the Kalasa canal.

Delegation to meet Union Minister

A delegation from Karnataka, led by Major and Medium Irrigation Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, is set to meet Union Water Resources Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Wednesday with the demand to notify the Mahadayi River Disputes Tribunal’s award immediately, so that the State can complete work on the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.

On Monday, the Minister chaired a high-level meeting to discuss the issue arising out of the Supreme Court’s direction to the Centre to notify the tribunal award. Sources said that the decision to meet the Union Minister comes in the wake of reports that Goa is expected to go to the Supreme Court on an appeal against Thursday’s court direction.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader H.K. Patil also urged the State government to move swiftly to get the gazette notification. He pointed out that Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has already announced the State’s intention to appeal against the order, and that the State government should bring pressure on the Centre to issue the gazette notification. Urging Mr. Jarkiholi to take an all-party delegation to the Union Minister, Mr. Patil also urged Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to set aside money for early completion of the project that has become a victim of politics.

200 tmcft currently unused

An estimate by the Water Resources Department says that barring a fraction, about 200 tmcft of water from the Mahadayi basin is going unused. The inter-State river dispute has left projects in both Karnataka and Goa hanging.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 7:23:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mahadayi-project-cost-skyrockets-by-1674-since-inception/article30906941.ece

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