Inordinate delay in execution continues to take a toll on the much-awaited Rukura medium irrigation project. The cost overrun of the project, that would benefit 74 villages, is likely to end up being five-times higher at Rs 250 crore.
For more than three decades, the irrigation project has been hit by apathy of the State and Central Governments. As of now, only 20 per cent work has been done at the cost of `90 crore.
Preliminary survey work was done in 1982 and then the Ministry of Water Resources abandoned the project for 11 years. In 1993, the technical advisory committee of the Ministry had approved it with a project estimate of around `52.40 crore with 90 per cent of the cost to be borne by the Centre.
Again the project was put on the back burner for 12 years till 2005 when the local Gram Sabha approved the project. By then the cost was revised to `155.54 crore. Protesting displacement by the project, villagers had staged protests in 2006 and 39 of them were arrested. The Sundargarh administration also did not push for land acquisition as the Centre failed to sanction funds on time.
Sources said execution of work started in 2011 with partial acquisition of land, but 2012 and 2013 were marred by protests by affected villagers. The activists promoting Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act continued to disrupt work till the local administration recently decided to act tough on the issue.
Project officials said the midsize dam project envisages reservoir at Musaposh village in Gurundia block in Bonai sub-division over 648 hectares (ha). The main canal system of around 11 km and branch canals of 110 km would require a total of 356 ha. On completion, it would feed 5,463 ha during kharif season and 2,185 ha in rabi season.
Rukura project Executive Engineer Sunil Naik said now that the land acquisition hurdle is almost over they have to complete the project by March 2015. They, however, are apprehensive of lapse of Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Project fund. He said due to divergent factors a revised estimate of `250 crore was sent for approval.