Ravi S Singh
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 8
The Centre on Monday put the spotlight on a big ticket Kosi-Mechi link project to eradicate the yearly flood problems in Seemanchal region of north Bihar, traditionally considered the incumbent NDA’s weak link politically in the state.
This project aims to link Kosi and Mechi rivers under the Centre’s Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) Programme.
The programme is a national project to link the country’s Peninsular and Himalayan rivers to better manage water resources and harvest them during destructive floods caused by them.
Presiding over a virtual meeting of the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) and of the SCILR, Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria said that investment clearance worth Rs 4,900 crore had been accorded to the Kosi-Mechi link project.
“It will be a major lease of life to Bihar’s Seemanchal region. It shall not only relieve large swathes of north Bihar from the menace of floods, but also provide irrigation to a whopping over 2.14 lakh hectares of command area,” said Kataria.
He stressed that the interlinking of rivers programme is very important for enhancing water and food security of the country and would be very helpful in providing water to water-scarce, drought-prone and rainfed farming areas.
The Seemanchal region encompasses four districts of Purnia, Katihar, Araria and Kisanganj, which account for 24 Assembly constituencies.
The region is demographically preponderated by Muslims. Almost every year, it faces large-scale problems due to floods. The voters of the region show preference for the main Opposition RJD in the state.
This interlinking project envisages diversion of part of surplus water of Kosi river through existing Hanuman Nagar barrage to the Mahananda basin, which remains deficient in providing water for irrigation.
Mechi is an important tributary of Mahananda river. Hence, channelling Kosi water into the Mahananda will optimise redistribution of the surplus waters. Kosi generally gets flooded during the monsoon seasons.
During the meetings, Kataria mentioned that most of the clearances for another big-ticket Ken-Betwa link project had been accorded and DPRs had already been shared with the states of MP and UP.
Similarly, the water sharing in Par-Tapi-Narmada link project is also under discussion.