Kochi requires Rs 300 cr, govt sanctions Rs 1 cr

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Sep 2018 09:58:53

Construction of Kochi Barrage in progress at Kanhan river


Special Correspondent,

75 per cent of the work is done, and 4,300 hectares of land can be irrigated if the project is completed by providing enough resources

‘Nagging neglect’ is the best description of Maharashtra Government’s approach towards the under-construction Kochi barrage project on river Kanhan. Finance Department has given only Rs one crore for the important project near Khapa in Nagpur district, in the budget for financial year 2018-2019.

After this paltry allocation to the project of which the estimated cost is Rs 900 crore, the Government has turned blind eye towards the project. It has not sanctioned balance amount of Rs 300 crore in the supplementary budget of monsoon session of State Legislature, to complete the remaining 25 per cent work of the project. If the project does not get remaining funds by December 2018, the project construction may not be completed in June 2019, as proposed by Water Resources Department (WRD).

Presently, farmers in Nagpur district are passing through a bad phase as water storage is insufficient in Pench reservoir to provide irrigation for the crops. Madhya Pradesh Government has constructed Chourai dam upstream of Totladoh project and this has reduced water inflow to Pench project. Water storage in Pench is 31 per cent only and it is not sufficient to provide water for drinking purpose, industrial as well as irrigation purpose in coming days. Recently, WRD released 100 MLD water to save the crops in command area. The command area of Pench project is 60 per cent but it received only 40 per cent of water. On the contrary, while command area of Chourai dam is 40 per cent, it received 60 per cent of water from the reservoir. Had Kochi barrage been constructed, farmers’ woes could have been redressed.

Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister, and Chandrashekhar Bawankule, Guardian Minister of Nagpur district, had sanctioned Kochi barrage project over the banks of Kanhan river to store 75 MMCube water. The project is expected to create irrigation potential of 4,435 hectares. Earlier, the cost of the project was Rs 262 crore. As per the revised administrative approval, total cost of the project has escalated upto Rs 947 crore. State Government had released Rs 600 crore including Rs 170 crore for land acquisition while remaining Rs 300 crore is yet to be released. WRD had spent Rs 632.72 crore on the project. If funds are received in time, the project may be completed by June 2019, as planned.

The work of Kochi barrage project began with a big bang but the work got hampered this year as State Government did not allocate sufficient fund in the budget or in supplementary budget passed in the monsoon session of State Legislature. Now, the officers of WRD are hoping that they would get fund in the supplementary budget in winter session of State Legislature scheduled in November this year. If Government neglects fund requirement of the project, work on the project may stop any time in December.

The Government will reserve 57 MMCube water from Kochi barrage for irrigation purpose while remaining water will be provided for other purposes. Water will be released through pipeline of 14 kms to right bank canal of Pench irrigation project. The laying of pipeline is pending for the project.

Presently, relocation of Kochi village is pending as local residents are opposing the construction of barrage. Three villages namely Kochi, Raiwadi, and Khairi Dhalgaon of Maharashtra and Khapa Padriwar of Madhya Pradesh are in submergence area. Around 1,549 families will be displaced by this project. So far, 475 hectares of land has been acquired by the State Government. WRD has started rehabilitation work of these villages in Kochi Bawangaon. The other villages will be rehabilitated at Pardi (Rithi) and Badegaon sites. The project has got momentum and it is necessary to provide funds. Otherwise, said an official, construction cost will increase eventually and the project work may not be finished in time.