KARNATAKA

Three decades on, irrigation project yet to be completed

Staff Correspondent

The cost of the project has escalated by nearly 20 times

It has a potential to irrigate nearly 10,000 acres in Bidar district Project cost has gone up to Rs. 69 crore

BIDAR: The Chulki Nala Irrigation Project that has a potential to irrigate over 10,000 acres in Bidar district is incomplete after nearly three decades of work.

The project cost has gone up from Rs. 3.8 crore to Rs. 69 crore in 20 years, an escalation of over 2,000 per cent. The State Government had approved Rs. 3.8 crore for the project in 1975-76.

The estimate was revised to Rs. 37.5 crore in 1995-96 and Rs. 65.7 crore in 1998-99. Now, the Irrigation Department authorities have spent Rs 67.2 crore and have sought Rs. 2.18 crore more for completing the work. The project that was expected to be completed in less than five years has dragged on till now.

The Chulki Nala is a tributary of the Karanja that later joins the Manjra in the Godavari basin. The river starts at Chowkiwadi in Basavakalyan taluk and flows for 42 km in the district before joining the Karanja.

The dam has a storage capacity of 0.93 tmcft of water and will utilise 1.18tmcft of water annually.

The dam's radial gates, the main canals and distributaries have been completed. Only the Field Irrigation Canals are pending.

Also, a bridge near Dhannur K. village is incomplete. People of the partially submerged villages are objecting to the construction as they feel the Government has delayed paying compensation. Government sources say mismanagement of funds and unchecked irregularities are the reason for the delay in construction.

Funds

Officials in charge keep complaining of scarcity of funds. But when the money is released, they divert it to other areas, a senior official said.

The project can change the face of Basavakalyan and Bhalki taluks. Irrigation will help eradicate poverty and prevent farmers' suicides. But the Government does not seem to be interested in completing the project, Karnataka Pradesh Krishik Samaj secretary Sidramaiah Swamy said. "Politicians and officials have been making false promises of completing the project on time. However, not even an acre of land has been irrigated till now," he said.

The only benefit of the project was that it had provided drinking water to Basavakalyan town.

Basavaranthappa Muchalamb, a farmer from Dhannur K. village, complained that the Government had not rehabilitated farmers displaced by the project in his village. "Most of the farmers who have lost lands in the project have not even got compensation," he added.

When contacted, Irrigation Minister K.S. Eshwarappa said there was no paucity of funds for irrigation projects. "Irrigation is the hope of farming. We plan to exploit irrigation potential of all rivers in the State. We will complete the Chulki Nala project soon," he added.

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