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Land for SMP displaced still to be acquired

The site of the Subernarekha Multipurpose Project

Ranchi, Feb. 7: The water resources department is yet to work out ways to rehabilitate residents of 87 villages in Jharkhand whose homes will be submerged before the Subernarekha Multipurpose Project (SMP) is completed in 2015-16.

The department has so far not been able to identify and acquire land where the villagers displaced by the Icha and Kharkai dams would be rehabilitated.

This was revealed during a review meeting of the department chaired by governor’s adviser Madhukar Gupta.

Department officials elaborated on the salient features of the rehabilitation and resettlement policy and said the pace of work could pick up if the local administration pitched in with more effort.

“The project has to be completed by 2015-16. We are doing our best, but land acquisition is a time-taking process. The adviser promised to take appropriate action,” principal secretary (water resources) S.K. Satpathy said after the meeting.

The present status of Galudih and Chandil dams was also discussed. Sources said the adviser was informed that a blockade located about 70km away from the main dam in Chandil had been removed and irrigation potential extended to 90km from the starting point.

Construction of distribution canals too was progressing steadily. It was also agreed that the SMP administrator would be given due powers to ensure smooth execution of the projects.

“The administrator’s powers were seized during the days of unified Bihar,” said Satpathy.

Incidentally, a similar decision was also taken at a review meeting presided over by the then water resources minister Sudesh Mahto on September 14.

The Subernarekha Multipurpose Project was approved by the Centre in 1982-83 and taken up for construction in 1995-96. It repeatedly ran into rough weather over various issues. It aims to irrigate 231,846 hectares in Jharkhand, 95,000 hectares in Odisha and 5,000 hectares in Bengal. It will also take care of water supply to industries and domestic consumers in the command area and generate hydel power.

After Arjun Munda became the chief minister for the third time in September 2010, fresh initiatives to revive the project began. Though his request to declare it a national project was turned down by the Centre, the Prime Minister agreed to extend 90 per cent financial assistance under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme.

Estimates were revised to Rs 6,613.44 crore and the Centre agreed to release Rs 450 core towards it as first instalment in February last year.


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