Canal wall collapses in Bihar hours before inauguration, inundates residential areas and NTPC plant

Patna: A portion of a canal that was to be inaugurated on Wednesday by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar collapsed hours before the ceremony, causing embarrassment to the state government.

The incident occurred in Bhagalpur district on Tuesday forcing the Chief Minister to cancel his scheduled visit to the area on Wednesday.

A portion of Bateshwarsthan Ganga Pump Canal Project collapsed resulting in the inundation of a large part of residential areas and the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) plant in Kahalgao.

It also crushed the hopes of the local people, particularly farmers, who had been waiting for it for last 40 years.

File image of Nitish Kumar. PTI

File image of Nitish Kumar. PTI

Without commenting on the collapse of the canal, the Chief Minister's office stated that Nitish Kumar's Bhagalpur programme scheduled on 20 September was cancelled due to technical reasons.

Leader of the opposition Tejashwi Yadav alleged that the canal collapsed due to rampant corruption and poor quality of construction.

"This latest incident has again exposed Nitish Kumar's zero tolerance against corruption because a portion of canal collapsed due to rampant corruption in the ambitious project to improve land irrigation," RJD spokesperson Shakti Yadav said.

Yadav said Kumar should explain to people how a canal collapsed a day before it was to be inaugurated.

According to a district official in Bhagalpur, initially a breach occurred on Tuesday evening when parts of the elevated main canal collapsed as water was pumped into it to test the flow.

The 11 kilometre-long canal is a part of "lift irrigation project" in which water from the Ganga river is to be lifted with the help of pumps and released into the canal to irrigate agricultural areas around Kahalgaon.

The project was started in 1977 with an aim to irrigate 23,000 hectares of land in Bhagalpur and Godda (now in Jharkhand) districts.

The then Planning Commission had made an initial investment of Rs 13.88 crore. However, the project was expanded and the estimated cost shot up to Rs 828 crore.

Updated Date: Sep 20, 2017 15:25 PM

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