BERHAMPUR: Despite being the home turf of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Ganjam district is awaiting completion of the ambitious Ghatakeswar multi-purpose project over Ghadaka Nullah for the past three decades. Ever since the project was announced by the then chief minister J B Patnaik in 1986, its foundation has been laid twice.
Ghadaka Nullah is a lifeline for the farmers of several villages in Kankia panchayat under Kukudakhandi block. Agricultural lands upstream of the Nullah often face drought. The project was planned with the twin purpose of providing irrigation to lands upstream and supplying drinking water to a part of Berhampur.
Though J B Patnaik laid the foundation for the project on October 6, 1986, it never proceeded beyond official files. After more than two decades, the State Government again considered constructing the project. In 2009, the Water Resources department prepared a detailed project report and estimated its cost at `29.16 crore
Once completed, it would irrigate 500 hectares in eight villages. Of the total project cost, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) was to contribute `23.99 crore, while the rest was supposed to be released by the State Government. The project would submerge Koilikote village, inhabited by 45 Scheduled Caste families. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik laid the foundation again for the irrigation project in June 2016 and had set a target to complete the project within 30 months. The project cost escalated to `118 crore. It had also got forest clearance. A rehabilitation colony was built for 25 oustee families near Kankia village. Tender for the project was floated in October 2016 and the lowest bidder was selected for constructing it.
Though the Chief Minister had pitched for its completion by 2019 kharif season, officials of Water Resources department said the tender was cancelled due to certain reasons.Therefore, the tender was floated again in 2017, following which the selected contractor performed puja at the site last month. Subsequently, the project site was inspected by the project engineers. However, no work has started so far. According to sources, the contractor was asked to sign an agreement before starting the construction. Meanwhile, sources said that State Government had already spent over `20 crore on tendering and re-tendering of the project, which is yet to see the light of day.