KATHMANDU, Aug 28: While two government agencies are already probing the collapse of the main canal of the Sikta Irrigation Project, Prime Minister KP Oli has dismissed the issue as a thing of the past and urged everyone to focus on future development.
The multi-billion-rupee project, which is to irrigate as many as 43,000 hectares of land in Banke district and transform the overall economy of the midwestern region, had seen a major breakdown during a trial run on July 23.
Talking on 4th edition of Janatasanga Pradhanmantri Program on Nepal Television, the prime minister on Wednesday generalized the defect in Sikta project with several other roads and bridges projects which had suffered damage during construction.
“These projects were implemented in the past. Therefore, it’s not possible to look into all those poor and substandard works of the past,” said the prime minister adding that he is rather focussed on future and in the nation-building campaign.
“If we look into the past projects, we might find several weaknesses and defects, so it is not possible to dig into all those things. We should rather focus on future development,” the prime minister replied to a query on the Sikta scam by the program host Monoj Panday.
During the interview, the prime minister also said that the government would not tolerate if there was corruption in the project. “If any corruption is found in the project it cannot be tolerated.” But he did not give emphasis on investigation into the matter.
The project was started in 2006 but still remains incomplete and construction works by Kalika construction of the main canal has been found to be substandard. A team led by Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Sushil Chandra Tiwari has returned from a field visit and is preparing its report while another investigation by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority is underway.
Nearly five weeks has been elapsed since the breakdown of the canal during a minor trail run, but majority lawmakers from the region are silent on the matter.
Purna Kumari Subedi is only the lawmaker of the House of Representative representing Banke raising the matter in the federal parliament. Subedi, who had demanded probe into the breakdown of the canal in parliament two weeks ago, said that it has become necessary to review all the sick development projects including Sikta. She called for proper investigation into the scam and punishment for the guilty. Likewise lawmaker Prem Suwal of the Nepal Workers’ and Peasants Party which is mainly based in Bhaktapur has also demanded investigation into the scam.