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Dam water to irrigate Kolhan

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AMIT GUPTA Published 23.01.12, 12:00 AM

Ranchi, Jan. 22: This monsoon, thousands of farmers in Seraikela-Kharsawan and East Singhbhum will cease to be at the mercy of the rain god as the water resources department has promised to irrigate agricultural fields in Kolhan by channelling water from the Subernarekha Multipurpose Project.

Principal secretary in the state water resources department S.K. Satpathy told The Telegraph that about 20,000-25,000 hectares (over 50,000 acres) in the two districts would be irrigated from the upcoming kharif season.

This may encourage farmers in the two districts, who rely mainly on paddy cultivation, to venture into multi-cropping even if they face an erratic monsoon. The last kharif season yielded a bumper paddy harvest in Jharkhand at the back of a generous monsoon.

Satpathy, who reviewed the Subernarekha Multipurpose Project (SMP) on Friday, added: “Water will be drawn from dams, barrages, canals and tributaries located in Chandil and Ghatshila areas of Seraikela-Kharsawan and East Singhbhum. Work on canals will be completed in the next couple of months.”

Jharkhand has already spent more than Rs 2,000 crore in the past decade on the project, which was conceived way back in 1977. The overall cost of SMP has scaled up to over Rs 6,613.74 crore, as per figures last September.

However, the state is yet to receive Rs 332 crore — which was promised by the Centre this fiscal — apparently due to bureaucratic red tape.

Sources said a no-objection certificate from the Union ministry of tribal affairs was awaited for the release of the promised funds. The ministry is expected to give clearance to sub-projects under SMP after assessing whether they would negatively affect the tribal population in the region.

Satpathy said they were waiting for the early release of central funds, with less than three months to go before 2011-12 ended, arguing that utilising money at the fag end of the financial year was improbable.

The inter-state project, once complete, would provide water for irrigation of approximately 2,75,000 acres of agricultural fields in Jharkhand, Odisha and Bengal.

SMP was brought under the Centre’s accelerated irrigation benefit programme last year after demands from the state.

The deadline for SMP, which has been extended several times, is 2015-16. It is among the biggest long-pending irrigation projects in Jharkhand, which include Kanhar reservoir, Ajay barrage, Punasi reservoir and Suru reservoir.

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