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Jharkhand Irrigation Crisis: Pending projects escalate costs

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Ranchi: Many irrigation projects in Jharkhand, several of them conceived over four decades ago, are still pending and thus draining Jharkhand’s exchequer. The cost of some projects has seen an escalation of around 50 times the original estimates.

Work on eight major and 18 medium projects is under way for the last two to three decades. The delay is not only financially hurting the tribal state, more than half of whose population lives below the poverty line, but also adding to the woes of the farmers, already reeling under successive droughts.

Take the case of the partially completed Swarnrekha Multi Purpose Project (SMPP), the biggest irrigation project in the state. Mooted in 1973, its cost was estimated at Rs 128.99 crore (almost $19 million) in 1978. The estimate was revised in 2011 to Rs.6,613.74 crore. Till February 2015, the expenditure was about Rs.3,575 crore.

The state government plans to complete the SMPP by 2017-2018, when it will irrigate more than 200,000 hectares of agricultural land against around 45,000 hectares it now services.

Besides the SMPP, there are scores of large, medium, and small irrigation projects pending in the state.

The Ajay Barrage was mooted in 1975 at an estimated cost of Rs.10.34 crore. This was upped to Rs.351.84 crore in 2007, and the total amount spent on it till 2015 is Rs.337.72 crore.

The project, on completion, will irrigate 40,510 hectares of land in Deoghar and Dumka districts.

According to officials, the canal work and other work of the project is nearly 90 percent complete.

Then, there is the Gumani irrigation project for Sahebganj and Pakur districts that was planned in 1976 at an initial estimate of Rs 3.83 crore. In 2007, the cost was upped to Rs 162.32 crore, and till 2015 the amount had been spent. Ninety-eight percent of the project’s canal work is now complete, officials say.

The oldest is the North Koel irrigation project. Mooted in 1970 at an estimated cost of Rs.30 crore, this has now been revised to Rs 814.73 crore.

Officials attribute the long delay in completion of the projects to several factors such as irregular funding, long-winded acquisition, and rehabilitation policies as also “inherent paradoxes”.

“The funding for the irrigation projects was stopped for almost 10 years from 1990. There are inherent paradoxes in the projects. Land of X person is submerged and Y person gets the benefits, causing public protests. The land acquisition, rehabilitation, and displacement policies, as also other factors delayed the projects,” Sukhdeo Singh, principal secretary of the Water Resources Department, told IANS.

The state government is expediting the pending irrigation projects and is trying to revive the lost potential of the completed projects.

According to the official, the state lost 200,000 hectares of the 300,000 hectares land in the completed irrigation projects due to lack of maintenance.

“In the next financial year (2016-17), we are planning to make budgetary provisions to restore the lost 200,000 hectares land of the completed project,” Sukhdeo Singh said.

Irrigation is a cause for concern in the state, in which the hilly areas and small landholdings is not conducive for farming. The state produces only half of its total consumption of food grains, while the state government declared the entire state as drought affected in the current financial year that ends on March 31.

As per official records, 23 percent of the cultivable land is fed through the irrigation system, but experts claim the actual area is only around 12 per cent.

Jharkhand’s total land area is 7.97 million hectares, of which 2. 97 million hectares are cultivable. (Nityanand Shukla, IANS)(Photo: Wikipedia)

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In Jharkhand Lynching Case, Guilty Would Be Punished: Jayant Sinha

In a picture that has gone viral, the Union Minister could be seen garlanding the convicts in the Ramgarh lynching case in Jharkhand

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Sinha further said that he has full faith in our judiciary
Sinha said that he has full faith in our judiciary. Flickr

After sparking a political storm by welcoming eight men who were convicted in the Ramgarh lynching case in Jharkhand with a garland, Union Minister Jayant Sinha on Saturday said that the Ranchi High Court has suspended the sentence of the accused and released them on bail.

The Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation said on Twitter, “In the Ramgarh case (mob lynching), the Ranchi High Court, which is the first court of appeal, has suspended the sentence of the accused and released them on bail while admitting their case. The case will once again be re-heard.” Sinha further said that he has full faith in our judiciary and that those who are innocent would be spared while the guilty would be appropriately punished.

“I have full faith in our judiciary and rule of law. Unfortunately, irresponsible statements are being made about my actions when all that I am doing is honoring due process of law. Those that are innocent will be spared and guilty will be appropriately punished,” he said.

He added, “I have repeatedly expressed my misgivings about the Fast-Track Court judgement sentencing each accused to life imprisonment. I am pleased that the Hon’ble High Court will hear the matter as a statutory court of appeal to test the correctness of the Fast-Track Court order.” Sinha, who represents the Hazaribagh seat in Lok Sabha, yesterday felicitated eight men convicted for killing a meat trader in Jharkhand last year.

In a picture that has gone viral, the Union Minister could be seen garlanding the convicts in the Ramgarh lynching case in Jharkhand at his residence on the outskirts of Hazaribagh.

A Ramgarh Court had sentenced the 11 accused, in connection with the Alimuddin murder case in Ramgarh district to a lifetime in prison.

lynching-header
lynching header. Flickr

Alimuddin, also known as Asgar Ansari, was intercepted by a mob and beaten to death in June last year over suspicions of transporting beef in his vehicle near Bazartand village. The mob later set the vehicle ablaze.

Also read: New Portfolio: Full List of Union Council of Ministers after Reshuffle

Following the lynching incident, section 144 was imposed in Ramgarh. (IANS)