Govt Announces Plan To Develop Five New River Diversion Projects

Budget of the coming Fiscal Year 2021/22 has included seven large river diversion projects to be developed in their different phases across the country for irrigation as well as water supply purposes.
Large amount of budget is earmarked for Bheri-Babai, Naumure and Sunkoshi-Marin Multipurpose river diversion projects, and Tamor-Chisyang, Kaligandaki-Tinau, Madi-Dang and West Seti-Kailali river diversion projects.
Five projects, except Bheri-Babai and Sunkoshi-Marin are new programmes.
Of them, the construction of Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project will be completed in the coming fiscal, Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel said while unveiling the budget on May 29.
He said that in two years, the project will irrigate 15,000 hectares of land while a power house of 48-Megawatt capacity will be constructed. It has received Rs. 3.7 billion budget allocation.
The government has earmarked budget for the preparation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and the construction of Naumure Multipurpose River Diversion Project. DPR, project implementation framework and resource management for the Tamor-Chisyang and Kaligandaki-Tinau river diversion projects will also be completed next year.
FM Paudel has also provisioned money for the preparation of DPR of Madi-Dang and West Seti-Kailali river diversion projects.
Likewise, tunnel construction work would be expedited at Sunkoshi-Marin Multipurpose River Diversion Project while head works and power house development will also start in the next fiscal. It has received Rs. 2.46 billion budget, equal to the amount it received this year. It will irrigate 122,000 hectares of land in Province 2.

Water supply
The government also aims for water supply in the large cities in Terai-Madhesh region from the river diversion projects. Water supply in Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara and Parsa districts will be managed from Sunkoshi-Marin project, and in Banke and Bardiya districts from Bheri-Babai project.
Next year, additional 29,400 hectares of land would have irrigation facility including 20,000 from Sikta Irrigation Project alone. Additional 20 km main canal and 12 km distribution channels in Sikta would be constructed at the cost of Rs. 1.56 billion.
Other major irrigation projects that received sizable budget for the coming year are Rani Jamara-Kulariya, Mahakali and Babai irrigation projects, and small programmes like Praganna, Bagmati, Palungtar and Brihat Dang Upatakya irrigation projects. Rani Jamara-Kulariya has received Rs. 2.35 billion. It will irrigate 20,300 hectares of land and generate 4.7 MW electricity. Rs. 1.25 billion and Rs. 1.44 billion is allocated for Mahakali and Babai respectively.

Pride projects, slow progress
Sikta, Rani Jamara-Kulariya, Bheri-Babai, Mahakali (third phase), Sunkoshi-Marin and Babai are national pride projects.
But progress of the projects under construction is not satisfactory, as per the conclusion made by the National Planning Commission a couple of months ago. Sikta and Rani Jamara-Kulariya are supposed to be completed by the end of this FY and FY 2023/24 respectively but they are moving ahead with just 63 per cent and 48 per cent progress.
Likewise, Bheri-Babai, Mahakali and Sunkoshi-Marin should be completed by 2023/24 but the progress of the former two is pathetic with just 40 per cent and more than 10 per cent progress, according to the Economic Survey of this year.
Another pride project Babai which was set to be completed by the end of the next fiscal year had 52.12 per cent progress by the end of last fiscal.
In the budget of the current fiscal year, the government had announced to expand irrigation facility to additional 22,000 hectares land.
By the end of eight months, the facility is available in 15,508 hectares of land.