Udupi, March 7,2017: Reports from Udupi district reveal that the Varahi irrigation project worth Rs 669.97 crore has utterly failed to fulfil the aspirations based on which the project was envisioned as the loopholes still continue to haunt the authenticity of the venture - people affected by the project submitted a list of complaints, including this, to District In-charge Minister Pramod Madhwaraj at a review meeting of the project here on March 6, Monday.
At least 601.01 acres of land has been acquired for the project so far and has been handed over to Varahi engineering department. The acquisition of 61.9 acres of land is still pending. In this, the proposal for land acquisition has been sent to the government. The acquisition of the remaining land should undergo public hearing. The minister said the project would surely see the light of the day as incomplete works on the stretch would be speeded up.
He made a whirlwind tour of the entire canal on Left Bank Canal area and spent time interacting with the affected people and also had a glance into the major problems that impede the completion of the project.
The farmers and the residents in Nelyadi-Kabbinahitlu and Kakkunje spoke about the issues in providing compensation. Besides the area in which the canal is passing through, the way is almost ineffectual due to low quality construction and the water choked-up in the canal is retreated to Kakkunje river in the catchment area, they said.
With land acquisition being a major delay, the entire project is on lapse. The work of diversion weir is completed. At Yeddadi-Mayyadi, the work which is taken place in the open place seems to be totally unscientific and the farmers in the area are struggling to receive water for irrigation. In the juncture at the 27 km in the Left Bank Canal (LBC), the canal has created problem as in the past two months, the water has failed to irrigate the land. In Molahalli, the bridge at 23 km in LBC is incomplete. Rain creates havoc in the area.
In Hardalli-Mandalli there is a house covering five cents of land. The inhabitants are stubborn as they are not satisfied with the compensation package and it resulted in the incomplete work of the canal, it was brought to the notice of the meeting. The minister, who made the spot inspection, told the Varahi executive engineer to look into the problems and offer compensatory land to the dwellers. If the house area is acquired and the canal is extended, the project would enable to offer water to nearly 50-60 acres of land, he added.
The complete closure of Jamagadni pond at Haladi by the project contractors was also brought to the notice of the meeting. The canal in the adjacent area is filled with slit and sludge which has evaporated the water source in the pond, the villagers charged. Even at Jeethmakki, the project construction has resulted in closing down of a pond which supplied water to nearly 50 acres of farmland. The outlet of LBC is built in the area and the project is a failure. The people are suffering from water crisis, they said.
A pond at Thottuvottu in Haladi has been closed wherein the distributor line and a stream in the region are closed owing to sludge. Farmer Raghuram Shetty said farming has not been taken up from the last four years.
Madhwaraj berates officials : The unscientific laying of pipe aqueducts in Haladi has resulted in stopping of the construction of Varahi irrigation project in the region. The height of the road was not considered when the work of pipe aqueducts was taken up. The height of pipe aqueducts is too much and the restructuring of pipe aqueduct is impossible due to enormous work and huge investments, it was brought to the notice of District In-charge Minister Pramod Madhwaraj while reviewing the progress of Varahi project.
The minister suggested decreasing the level of the road below the pipe aqueducts. The work can be taken up only after a thorough study as the road runs to kilometres together. The laying of pipe aqueducts on both sides is incomplete and the work is an utter engineering failure. Besides, the storm water drains should also be altered to meet the needs. The decrease in the road should not result in clogging of water in the area, which would prove disastrous to the pipe aqueducts. At Bharathkal, a major aqueduct is leaking and the bridge requires connective stretches on both the sides. There are nearly 120 houses that suffer water crisis in the region, he was told.
In the reviewing meeting, the minister lambasted at the officials for not maintaining the records of the complainants. The officials’ lethargic approach towards attending the grievances of the affected people, made the minister strictly warn the engineers in Varahi Irrigation Department.
He said the officials are deaf towards public grievances. Despite repeated appeals, the land losers are not compensated. Twenty grave complaints have remained unattended, he said and strongly warned the officers, including the assistant commissioner and told the DC to look into the pendency of cases. A meeting should be held and within a week’s time, the pendency should be sort out, he said.
He said a large amount has been spent on the project. But the irony is that the affected people’s grievances are least heard, he regretted. The contractors who are in-charge of the construction works of the project conduct blasts in the region. They are least worried about the people who are affected due to the blasts of the boulders. The contractors should compensate the affected people, whose houses have been damaged.