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Neighbours join hands for Koel reservoir

New Delhi, July 9: Lok Sabha MPs of the adjoining districts of Bihar and Jharkhand have come together to push for a long-pending river reservoir project stuck for years because of environment and wildlife clearances.

The MPs, including Union minister of state Upendra Kushwaha who represents Karakat constituency from Bihar, held a meeting in Delhi today and decided to take up the matter with the environment, forest and climate change minister Prakash Javadekar to ensure early expedition of the north Koel reservoir project, a joint venture between the two state governments.

Apart from Kushwaha, Aurangabad MP Sushil Kumar Singh, Chatra MP Sunil Singh and Gaya MP Hari Manjhi also took part in the meeting.

The project being constructed on river north Koel, a tributary of river Sone, will benefit irrigation in Aurangabad and Gaya districts of Bihar and Palamu district of Jharkhand.

The head works — dam as well as barrage — falls in Jharkhand and the distribution system falls both in Bihar and Jharkhand.

According to officials, the dam of the project that was first approved by the Planning Commission in 1984, was built several years back but the river closure has not happened as it would affect major parts of Palamu Tiger Reserve, which forms part of Betla National Park. At present six tigers — one male and five females — are believed to be there in the reserve.

“The north Koel river flows in the western portion of Palamu district and falls in Sone river. The district is a rain shadow area and has very few rivers. If the irrigation project is not functional soon, farmers’ trouble will remain unresolved. The situation is not better in other nearby districts in both the states. We want the Centre to intervene at the earliest and the project to get operational so that over five lakh farmers get benefitted,” said the Chatra MP.

He added: “It had been contemplated to take advantage of the regulated water discharge and the artificial head created by the dam in addition to some natural head available in the river bed to generate the much-needed and cheap hydel power. Javadekarji has been stressing that projects stalled unnecessarily because of environmental clearances will be given priority. So we are hopeful this project too would get a green light soon.”

According to the proposal, the project consists of a composite dam across the river north Koel near village Kutku, a barrage on the same river, 96km downstream of Kutku dam and two main canals — left and right — taking from Mohammadganj barrage with their distribution systems.

The length of the right main canal is 109km, which is 31km in Jharkhand and 78km in Bihar. Through this canal, irrigation will be provided in 12,470 hectare land in Palamau and 1,11,800 hectare in Bihar. The length of the left main canal is 11.81km fully in Jharkhand and will irrigate 2,320 hectare in Garhwa district.

While the original project cost was Rs 47.77 crore when it was first envisaged 30 years back, it escalated to Rs 1,289.5 crore after the revised estimation. Officials said up to March 2011, Rs 755.96 crore had already been spent on the project.