Chatra reservoir plan hangs fire

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By SUDHIR KUMAR MISHRA
  • Published 1.08.11
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Ranchi, July 31: A reservoir project, which was proposed to provide water to National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) thermal power plant in Chatra district, has been lying abandoned for two years.

The Garhi reservoir scheme at Uttararhi village in Chatra’s Kamdara block was primarily aimed at providing water to NTPC’s 1,980MW plant. Besides, a hydel power plant had been proposed at the project site to boost power supply for people in the region.

Under the scheme, only a dam needs to set up, as it is not meant for extending irrigation facilities. Nearly 20 per cent of the dam has so far been built after work began in 2002, with the state government approving Rs 121.64 crore for the project.

However, construction of the dam’s slipway is yet to begin, as it involves acquisition of 687.40-hectare forestland.

The water resources department had also taken steps prior to 2009 for securing the first phase of forest clearance for acquisition. Over 1,141 acres in Dumka district, which has already been verified by forest department officials, was identified for compensatory afforestation.

However, a final clearance from the Union forest and environment ministry is still awaited. In 2009, the water resources department proposed that the project be handed over to NTPC, reasoning that the central public sector undertaking would help in obtaining a no objection certificate from the Union ministry.

Besides, it was proposed that NTPC would only have to compensate the expenses already incurred on the project. The proposal said the water resources department was even willing to take up the remaining work, provided NTPC agreed to bear the expenses.

Another clause of the proposal mentioned that rates applicable on water from natural resources would be realised from NTPC, if the corporation agreed to bear the expenses incurred on completing the project. On the other hand, the rates applicable on water from the reservoir would be realised from NTPC, if the water resources department completed the project.

Earlier this year, the state government also revised tariff on water supplies from various sources to industries. The water supply from natural resources is the cheapest under the new arrangement.

“We have already spent over Rs 74 crore on this project. Now, it virtually remains abandoned. We also repeatedly approached NTPC on the issue, but to no avail. In fact, this project has also been denied budgetary allocations since 2009-10,” water resources department’s engineer-in-chief Ram Murat Ravidas told The Telegraph.

Deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto, who also heads the water resources department, however, maintained that a decision on the issue would be taken soon, as the government had already spent a huge amount on it. “In fact, there are several other projects that have met a similar fate. Now, we are giving priority to such projects that can be completed early. We are not going to neglect these projects in any case,” he added.

NTPC officials refused to comment on the project and the lack of interest shown by it, arguing that the corporation bosses in Delhi had the final say in the matter.