REPUBLICA DISTRICT BUREAU, Dec 16: It has been five months since the Nakdariya Irrigation Project at Mayadevi Rural Municipality in Kapilvastu has been left stranded. The target was to complete the project by the end of 2018.
On completion, the project would irrigate around 300 hectare land of 500 farmers in Phulika village. Farmers were also excited about the project, hoping their dependence on rainwater would end.
“After a long struggle, we had finally got the irrigation project for our village,” said Mewala Yadav, a farmer. “But we have heard that confusion about whether the budget will come from the local government or the central government has left the project in quandary.”
“This is very unfortunate,” he added. More than half-dozen irrigation projects in the district handed over to the provincial government by the central government under conditional grants have been left in quandary since mid-July, according to Madhav Poudel, chief of Kapilvastu Water Resources and Irrigation Development Division Office.
He further said that they had asked for Rs 320 million for five irrigation projects that were supposed to be complete by this year. However, the central government has provided only Rs 4.5 million so far, Poudel said.
Likewise, construction of Kanchan Irrigation Project at Kanchan Rural Municipality in Rupandehi has been halted for several months. Although the Water Resources and Irrigation Development Division Office of Rupandehi had directed to resume the construction work, the contractor has not yet started the work. No work has taken place at the project site after mid-July, according to Wasiullah Musalman, president of the local consumer committee. For the project worth Rs 370 million in total, the work of embankment construction worth Rs 80 million was given to a contractor last year. About 60 percent of the work is to be done yet. The target was to complete embankment construction within the current Fiscal Year 2018/19.
While the project office has required Rs 45 million in the current fiscal year, it has received only Rs 800,000 so far. “Work with Rs 800,000 will get completed in 15 days. What do we do after that?” asked Musalman.
Chief of Resources and Irrigation Development Division Office of Rupandehi, Tanka Bahadur KC, said that the contractor did not begin the work due lack of budget. “The situation has worried us. What if the constructed infrastructure gets damaged after work is halted in the middle?” he asked.
Confusion over budget allocation and authorization has delayed such projects that have a direct impact on public life. Especially in the rural areas, projects of irrigation, drinking water, and roads have got stranded due to unclear work division among the central and provincial governments.
The construction of a bridge at Ward 10 of Lumbini Sanskritik Municipality in Rupandehi, worth of Rs 40 million, has also been stranded after mid-July. The people have to face difficulty crossing the river every monsoon. Children have to risk their lives while crossing the river to reach their schools.
According to Fakaruddhin Khan, a provincial parliamentary member elected from Lumbini, around one dozen of such conditional grant projects related to drinking water, bridge, irrigation, and the road has been halted since mid-July.
Meanwhile, 80 percent work of Jahada Sarawal Drinking Water Project that is under construction at Bardaghat Municipality – 13 of Nawalparasi district, was completed in the previous year. But, the remaining 20 percent work is yet to be completed due to lack of budget. The project, upon completion, would distribute drinking water to around 10,000 households.
More than half a dozen drinking water projects and around two dozen irrigation and road projects have been halted in Nawalparasi due to lack of budget this year.
Likewise, construction of Madi Ring Road in Palpa district, worth Rs 60 million, under the Rural Agricultural Project, has also been halted for the last five months.
The project aims to support the marketing of agro products of rural areas. After the federal government allocated a lesser budget than required for the conditional grant projects this year, around 500 projects have been halted in Province 5 at this moment.
After mid-July, 143 road projects in 12 districts of the province have been halted. According to the provincial Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, around Rs 7.11 billion is required to complete all those road projects. However, the federal government has allocated only Rs 564 million to Province 5 as a conditional grant for road projects this year.
(Rekha Bhusal reported from Butwal, Kiranman Bajracharya from Kapilvastu, and Mukti Neupane from Palpa.)