39 years on, Bagmati Irrigation Project still in limbo

Published On: June 4, 2017 03:30 AM NPT By: Santosh Singh

SARLAHI, JUNE 3: The Bagmati Irrigation Project, which was conceived nearly four decades ago with the aim of providing irrigation facility in central Tarai as well as generating electricity, has not made much progress, apart from the setting up of its offices.   

In the past 39 years of its operations, the project has not completed even first phase of work. The second phase of the project has become certain.

The project was initially started as Sunkoshi Tarai Project to produce 140 MW of electricity by diverting waters of Sunkoshi River. It was expected to irrigate thousands of hectares of land in Bara, Rautahat, Mahottari and Dhanusha districts. 

Project work went on smoothly between Fiscal Year 1978/79 and Fiscal Year 1986/87. In 1953, the project had managed to build a barrage to divert water through eastern and western canals.

Binaya Kumar Gami, a senior divisional engineer of Bagmati Irrigation Project, said that the project has managed to provide irrigation facility to only 45,600 hectares in Sarlahi and Rautahat districts due to the government's indifference toward the national pride project.

The Sunkoshi-Bagmati diversion was in recently in news during province demarcation. But nothing concrete was done toward implementing the project.

Central Tarai is often considered the granary of the country. But agricultural yield has not been satisfactory due to lack of irrigation facilities. Small irrigation projects will only increase cost of production for farmers.

In the first stage of the first phase, the project managed to provide irrigation facilities up to Jhim River in Sarlahi and Lamaha River in Rautahat. It has failed to extend irrigation facilities up to west of Lalbakiya River in Bara district as part of the second stage of the first phase works. The office even doesn't have any plan for the second stage.

According to project document, there was a plan to make high dam in the barrage and generate 140 MW of electricity as well as provide irrigation facility in Mahottari and Dhanusha districts in the second phase.

The Broader Bagmati Irrigation Project has a water discharge capacity of 64.4 cu sec. But the project is not materializing as it is not known when construction of a 12-kilometer diversion of Sunkoshi River from Marin of Sindhuli to Bagmati will begin.

At present, the water discharge capacity of the project is only 30 cu sec.

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