Bihar working on future water needs, Centre mustn’t delay Kosi authority
Maintaining that the department was planning “water budget” and “water audit”, water resources minister Sanjay Kumar Jha said the Nitish Kumar government has been alive to the need of rejuvenating water bodies and dried up rivers to address future needs, and it was precisely due to this that it came up with the idea for intra-linking of rivers apart from inter-linking.
Bihar’s Water resources minister Sanjay Kumar Jha on Friday said in the state legislative assembly that the Centre must take action on the constitution of the Kosi Development Authority, as proposed by the Patna High Court, and apprise the state government about the outcome of the talks with Nepal.
Giving the government reply after debate on the budgetary demand of the department amid walkout by the BJP legislators over omission of the crucial home department from debate despite “worsening law and order situation”, Jha said the authority could be a big step forward to find a permanent solution to a seven-decade old problem of flooding in north Bihar.
“Bihar government has also sent a proposal to Centre in the light of the HC order. Unfortunately, there has been no serious initiative from the Centre so far. This is an issue that Bihar cannot tackle, as it involves a foreign country, Nepal, where rivers like Kosi, Kamla etc. originate from. The HC also talked about the need to work out a funding arrangement,” he said.
The minister said the Centre’s favourable response would make it happen for Bihar. “The proposed authority will have participation from Indian government, Bihar as well as Nepal. Way back in 1950, the need to build a high dam at the India-Nepal border was felt and an office also came up at Biratnagar in Nepal, but the detailed project report could never realises,” he said.
Jha said the ambitious Jal-Jeevan-Hariyali scheme launched by chief minister Nitish Kumar was a reflection of his ability to think ahead of time, as water stress was a reality across the world and he could hear the alarm bells that started ringing even in hitherto water-surplus regions of north Bihar, which get corroborated by the central ground water commission data released this year.
“The department is working on the CM’s guidelines to achieve the target of providing water to every farm by 2025 and work has begun in coordination with five department. The first positive impact came through the completion of rubber dam on Falgu river in Gaya. It not only provided an opportunity to over 12 lakh devotees to take holy dip in the Falgu river, but it has also helped lift the water table by an average of 12 feet at various ghats along the Falgu. Gangajal Apoorti Yojana has proved another lifeline for the parched regions of Gaya, Bodh Gaya and Rajgir. The Centre awarded both the schemes recently for good implementation,” he said.
Maintaining that the department was planning “water budget” and “water audit”, the minister said the Nitish Kumar government has been alive to the need of rejuvenating water bodies and dried up rivers to address future needs, and it was precisely due to this that it came up with the idea for intra-linking of rivers apart from inter-linking.
“The Belwa Dhar scheme in Sheohar has been successful. Kosi-Mechi inter-linking, which will transform the Seemanchal region by creating irrigation potential for 214,812 hectares, is a major peoject. We have sent the proposal to the Centre to accept it as a national project on the lines of Ken-Betwa interlinking project, but there is no response from the Centre despite all clearances. Acceptance as a national project will mean 60% funding from the Centre, 30% funding through loan and 10% from the state. We also have plans for other rivers, but the Centre’s support is needed,” he said.
Later, the House passed the budget with voice vote. The budgetary demands of several other departments, including home, agriculture, cabinet coordination, minor irrigation, public health engineering, information & public relations etc., were also passed through guillotine.