Lower Suktel’s fate tied to Mahanadi tribunal award!

Construction work may not start as govt yet to send fresh proposal

Published: 10th February 2021 03:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th February 2021 07:56 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BALANGIR: Is the fate of Lower Suktel Irrigation Project tied to the award of Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal? That is exactly what the Central Water Commission’s reply to an RTI query suggests even as the Odisha government claims that construction work for the dam would start soon.

For the last two year and half, construction work of the dam project has been in a limbo over protests and non-resolution of rehabilitation and resettlement issues. Recently, the State government made a push by appointing senior officers for the project and announcing that construction work of the irrigation project would start soon. A high-level team led by Chief Secretary SC Mohapatra also visited the site.

However, the reply CWC furnished to Balangir-based RTI activist Hemant Panda indicates that the Commission had returned the proposal of Lower Suktel project to the State government in 2019. “The proposal of Lower Suktel irrigation project was returned to the State government vide letter T-28036/1/2019-PA-N dated October 3, 2019 with a request to submit the proposal afresh based on the award of Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal,” said the PIO of CWC.

Panda claims that the State government has not sent any fresh proposal as yet and hence, construction works for the project may not start. In a letter to Chief Engineer, Project Planning, Formulation and Investigation, the CWC had cited four projects - Lower Suktel (2nd RCE DPR), Tel Integrated Multipurpose Project, Khadaga Barrage Project and Telijore Irrigation Project - for which the State government had submitted  proposals for in-principal clearance for preparation of the DPR.

The CWC letter says that all four projects were at various stages of appraisal in CWC and pending due to “resolution of the inter-state matters.” Inter-State meetings of co-basin states were scheduled to discuss the issues but could not materialise. “Chhattisgarh had observed that convening of inter-State meetings under the chairmanship of CWC chairman to resolve the issues of entire Mahanadi River Basin is in contravention of the orders of the Apex Court,” the letter said.

Hence, CWC was requested to defer the meetings. The CWC said since appraising units and directorates observed that appraisal of the Mahanadi Basin projects may not proceed till water availability from the river to each State is finalised, all four proposals were returned to Odisha with a request to submit fresh ones based on Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal’s award.

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