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Busy ministers keep opening of Middle Vaitarna dam on hold

The stone-laying foundation ceremony of the much delayed Middle Vaitarna dam project will be delayed by another week...

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: January 20, 2009 3:29:02 am

The stone-laying foundation ceremony of the much delayed Middle Vaitarna dam project will be delayed by another week,following the non-availability of Central ministers to attend the ceremony in Mumbai. The Bhoomi Pujan of the dam was scheduled for Thursday but has been postponed till January 29 or a later date.

Union minister for Urban Development Department,Dr Jaipal Reddy,along with chief minister Ashok Chavan and Shiv Sena executive president,Uddhav Thackeray were expected to kickstart the project on January 22 at the site location of the dam in Thane district.

However,Municipal Commissioner,Jairaj Phatak said Reddy would not be able to come to the city on the day of bhoomi pujan. “There is a central cabinet meeting on Thursday and some important bills will be tabled for approval. Dr Reddy will therefore have to be present in Delhi,” he said. Phatak added that the ceremony is now proposed for January 29,depending on the schedule of the union minister.

“The central government had suggested us a few other dates but there is a state cabinet meeting then and therefore CM will not be able to attend the function. Hopefully,it would be held on January 29,” Phatak said.

Since construction of the dam is centrally funded,the presence of a union minister during the stone laying foundation ceremony is a must for the Congress-led State government. Setting up the Middle Vaitarna dam for additional water was first proposed in the late 90s,the BMC then spent another decade approving the project and getting permissions from the state environment department. The project received formal approval two years ago but since then too,the project has been mired in delays and hurdles. In October,the Sena had opposed the awarding of the contract of construction of the dam to a Chinese company.

At a height of 105 meters,the dam will be constructed about 145 km north-east of Mumbai at Mokhada in Thane district. It is one of the most ambitious and costly projects — costing Rs 1,400 crore — undertaken by the civic authorities,which aims at balancing the existing water shortfall. Once completed in 2011,the dam would supply an additional 455 million litres of water per day.

Around 28 per cent of work — construction of approach roads and other components — using Rs 397 crore has already been carried out. The remaining work,including the laying of pipelines,construction of tunnel and the main dam will be completed in the next 42 months.

The dam will be constructed at a cost of Rs 490 crore by a joint venture between China International Water and Electric engineering company — a state-owned large scale enterprise under the direct jurisdiction of the central government of the People’s Republic of China — and Soma enterprises. Advanced Roller Compacted Concrete technology will be used and the project will be completed in three years after commencement.

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