The Centre has decided to revive the North Koel Irrigation project, envisaged nearly 40 years ago, to address water requirements in Jharkhand and Bihar. When completed, the project, estimated to cost Rs 1600 crore, is expected to irrigate 1 lakh hectares of land in the two states, Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti told reporters in New Delhi. “Jharkhand is the most backward state from the irrigation point of view. Now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken an initiative to revive the project to eradicate poverty and backwardness of the common people there,” she said.
Bharti made the remarks during launch of management information system (MIS) for monitoring projects under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKYS). The ministry has revised the plan to use water from the Jharkhand project optimally, one of its commissioners, K Vohra, who accompanied Bharti during the briefing, said. He said that out of the total cost, the Centre’s share is Rs 1000 crore.
Apart from this, the ministry has identified Marathwada (Maharashtra), Bundelkhand (Uttar Pradesh-Madhya Pradesh) and Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput (Odisha) to implement smaller irrigation schemes to help the regions fight water woes. Vohra said the ministry also held a meeting recently with officials from 15 states, faced with water concerns, in view of upcoming summer.
Noting that the hilly regions are also experiencing water issues, Bharti said she has asked Central Ground Water Board to undertake project to identify and resurrect disappeared springs in stretches between Jammu and Kashmir and north-eastern states.
To a question, the minister expressed hope that India and Nepal might start Pancheshwar multipurpose project in a year. She said that 21 projects having irrigation potential of 5.22 lakh hectare will be completed by June this year. Bharti said 33 other projects will be completed by 2017-18 (irrigation potential of 12.95 lakh hectares.