Irrigation Project In Odisha Stalled For Incomplete Bridge On NH; Naveen Seeks Centre’s Intervention

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Bhubeswar: The state government has drawn the Centre’s intervention in completion of a four-lane bridge on new NH 520 in tribal dominated Keonjhar district.

In a letter to Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari, chief minister Naveen Patnaik has stated that the state government has undertaken construction of Kanupur irrigation project over River Baitarani to irrigate 29578 ha in Keonjhar district.

The project funded with Central assistance under AIBP was started in 2004-05. Major headwork components except the earth dam in the river gap and five blocks of the spillway have been completed. The left-over components are suspended temporarily because of the fact that a 315 metre long 4-lane bridge is to be constructed over the spill channel Rimuli-Roxy-Rajamunda section of new NH 520 by NHAI. The NH runs parallel to the 3460-metre earth dam in this portion and the above-mentioned bridge remains a major bottleneck in completion of the balance components.

Naveen further said as NHAI did not take up the work on its own after several meetings and correspondence at different levels, construction of the bridge came was assigned to Kanupur Project Authority after obtaining the consent of NHAI. Accordingly, the project authority started the work for the tendered cost of Rs 40.68 crore out of which NHAI agreed to bear 80%. Later, the estimated cost was revised to Rs 100.53 crore due to change in its design because of underground geological conditions; and this matter was brought to the knowledge of NHAI. However, NHAI did not agree to bear their share of 80% of the revised cost and the work was stopped.

In order to resolve the matter, a meeting was held between the Chairman, NHAI and principal secretary, Water Resources department at New Delhi in March 2019. The principal secretary stated in the meeting that since NHAI remained firm in bearing 80% of the initial cost of Rs 40.68 crore, the work undertaken by the department is being considered for termination. He requested the NHAI chairman to take up the work at their level and the state government will bear the committed 20% of the original design cost of Rs 40.68 crore.

After the meeting, Kanupur Project Authority stopped the work and terminated the contract. It also intimated contract closure matter to the Project Director, NHAI, PIU, Rourkela to enable NHAI to initiate the construction process in August 2019.

Though more than one year has passed since then, neither the work has been started nor any response regarding plan, programme, and implementation of the bridge has been communicated by NHAI to the project suthorities despite several correspondences, the letter stated.

Since the state government is taking all steps for early completion of Kanupur project for economic upliftment of the tribal community by providing irrigation to agricultural fields, Naveen requested Gadkari to intervene in the matter in providing an early solution.

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