Thursday, Oct 16, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
The MLC and senior BJP leader, M.R. Tanga, told presspersons here on Wednesday that the deadline lapsed 45 days ago, but not even an acre of land in the notified command area of the project had been provided water. Dr. Tanga, who led an agitation against the "undue delay" in the release of water from the Bennethora Dam to the command area in June, said just three days after the BJP launched a padayatra in the Bennethora project area, Mr. Patil visited the spot along with senior officials and announced that water would be released from the dam from August 31. The Minister also made several other promises, Dr. Tanga said.
The BJP leader said he visited the project area on Tuesday to see if the promises had been kept and was shocked to find out that none of them, including the one to fill up vacant posts in the project, had been fulfilled. Many key posts including those of Executive Engineers, Assistant Executive Engineers (AEE), and other technical staff were still vacant. Against a sanction for two Executive Engineers, only one post had been filled and against a sanction for six AEEs, one post had been filled. Other posts of technical staff were vacant too.
During his visit, he travelled up to the 10-km. point on the Right Bank Canal and up to the eight-km. point on the Left Bank Canal and found that the condition of the canals had deteriorated, Dr. Tanga said. In many places, the embankment had collapsed and seepage between adjoining farmlands was a big problem. Even three months after the Minister's visit, the project officials had not removed the silt from the canal bed. In some places, the silt was almost two feet deep, he said.
The MLC said a fresh survey of the distributaries and laterals, which the Minister had promised, had not been taken up and enquiries revealed that the survey might be assigned to a private agency and it might take at least three months to complete it.
Dr. Tanga said although the Government had decided to hand over the execution of the project to the Karnataka Neeravari Nigam (KNN) three months ago, the Irrigation Department had not done so. The Government had also stopped releasing funds for the unfinished work.
The Rs. 2 crore that was released last month had been used to settle the dues of farmers who had lost land to the project.
The BJP leader said the party would launch another agitation in November to highlight what he called the State Government's failure to complete the Bennethora Project.
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