ROURKELA: Villagers of Kuanrmunda and Nuagaon blocks, located on the other side of Koel river at Rourkela, have threatened of resorting to agitational path seeking expeditious implementation of the original low-height bridge-cum-barrage proposal. The demand comes in the wake of delay for five years in constructing the redesigned pick-up weir on the river.
Members of the Kuanurmunda-Nuagaon Block Adiwasi Milit Manch led by BJD leader Benedict Tirkey said the original proposal for the weir at Baikuntha Ghat of Rourkela was envisaged to benefit people of Kuanrmunda and Nuagaon blocks in Birmitrapur Assembly constituency with direct communication and irrigation facilities. It would have also served the purpose of storing drinking water for people of Rourkela and RN Pali Assembly constituencies on the other side of the river. With the river remaining dry throughout the year except during monsoon, the original proposal is of much significance to the three Assembly constituencies of Sundargarh.
The ruling party leader said if the work is not started by November, a sit-in agitation would be held before the residences of Rourkela MLA Dilip Ray (BJP), RN Pali MLA (BJD) Subrat Tarai and Birmitrapur MLA George Tirkey (now Congress). Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation for the project in July 2013.
Without proper feasibility study, the bridge-cum-barrage proposal was mooted with a height of six metres for drinking water storage, irrigation for about 3,300 hectares of land in Kuanrmunda and Nuagaon blocks and connectivity to these blocks with Rourkela. Later, the need for acquisition of 200 hectares and submergence factor were realised. Sources said the Water Resources Department in 2014 had haphazardly floated tender at an estimated cost of `445.50 crore only to drop it later.
Subsequently, the original proposal got redesigned into weir structure after numerous modifications and the location was shifted to the river’s downstream at Hamirpur to avoid submergence. It is learnt that the office of the Chief Engineer & Basin Manager, Upper Mahanadi Basin, Burla on May 25, 2018 had issued e-procurement notice for civil works towards construction of weir structure at an estimated cost of `262 crore with technical bid opening on July 21.
Sundargarh Medium Irrigation Division Executive Engineer BK Sethi informed that the Technical Advisory Committee has approved a total expenditure of `340 crore including civil and mechanical works and other ancillary costs. He said the weir project primarily aims at providing drinking water storage, while lift irrigation potential would be explored later. Tarai said the project is in tender stage and hoped for its timely completion.