The multi-tracking proposals will ease operations and reduce congestion, providing the much-required infrastructural development on the busiest sections across Indian Railways.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved the Jal Shakti Ministry’s proposal to complete balance works of the North Koel Reservoir Project at a revised cost of Rs 2,430.76 crore, with a Central share of Rs 1,836.41 crore.
The balance cost was earlier Rs 1,622.27 crore (Central share: Rs 1,378.60 crore), and approved in August, 2017.
Briefing newspersons, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said with the approval of the revised cost, the balance works will be completed in the next 30 months.
The project will provide additional annual irrigation to 42,301 hectares in four drought prone districts of Jharkhand and Bihar with the completion of the balance works.
The North Koel Reservoir Project is an inter-State major irrigation project with command area lying in the two States of Bihar and Jharkhand.
The project comprises a dam on North Koel river near Kutku village (District Latehar, Jharkhand), a barrage 96 km downstream of the dam (at Mohammadganj, District Palamu, Jharkhand), a Right Main Canal (RMC) and a Left Main Canal (LMC) taking off from the barrage.
The construction of the dam and ancillary activities was started by the Bihar Government in 1972 from its own resources. The work continued till 1993 and was stopped in that year by the State Forest Department.
Due to apprehension that water accumulated in the dam would threaten the Betla National Park and the Palamu Tiger Reserve, the work on dam was at a standstill.
The project subsequent to stoppage of work was providing annual irrigation to 71,720 hectares. After bifurcation of Bihar in November 2000, the head works i.e. the dam and the barrage lay in Jharkhand.
Also the entire 11.89 km Left Main Canal (LMC) from Mohammadganj barrage lies in Jharkhand. However, out of 110.44 km of the Right Main Canal (RMC), the first 31.40 kms lie in Jharkhand and the remaining 79.04 km lie in Bihar.
In 2016, the Central Government decided to provide assistance for completion of balance works of the North Koel Reservoir Project in order to operationalise the project to realise its envisaged benefits.
It was decided to reduce the reservoir level so as to save the core area of Palamu Tiger Reserve. The proposal to complete the balance works of the Project at an estimated expenditure of Rs 1622.27 crore was approved by the Union Cabinet in August 2017.
Subsequently, at the request of both State Governments, certain other components were found necessary to be included in the project. Complete lining of RMC and LMC was also regarded as essential from technical considerations to derive envisaged irrigation potential.