Hours before its grand launch by Nitish Kumar, a portion of a Rs. 389-crore dam in Bihar crashed during a trial run and left parts of a town in Bhagalpur flooded. The Chief Minister was forced to cancel the inauguration today of the Ganga canal project that was completed after a 40-year delay.
Last evening, Mr Kumar’s office cited “technical reasons” for dropping the launch of the Bateshwarsthan Ganga Pump Canal Project, which has been set up to irrigate land in Bihar and neighbouring Jharkhand. Ads in newspapers had announced that Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan would also be present at the event.
The wall of the canal collapsed when water from the river Ganga crashed into it after the pump was switched on for a trial. The water gushed into Kahalgaon village and inundated areas that are part of a thermal power project.
The Rs 389 crore project, which was started in 1977 with a cost of Rs 13.88 cr, had been a story of neglect by successive governments. The project cost was revised several times and finally it was ready with the government deciding to install 12 high-capacity water pumps. If started simultaneously, these 12 pumps can release 260 cusecs of water per second into the canal.