KATHMANDU, Jan 24: The government has decided to enlist Sunkoshi-Marin Diversion Multipurpose Project as a ‘national pride project’.
Along with Sunkoshi-Marin, the government has also been planning to add the Prime Minister’s Agriculture Modernization Project, Madan Bhandari Technical University and construction of Dodhara Chandani bridge, 410-megawatt Nalsing Gad Storage Project, 756-MW Tamor Storage Hydroelectric Project and Madan Bhandari Highway in the list, officials of the National Planning Commission (NPC).
The government has been allocating over Rs 130 billion annually for the national pride projects. However, as the performance of these projects has remained dismal despite getting hefty budgetary allocation, the government is also mulling over diverting the fund to other projects that need to be constructed immediately.
Speaking at a press meet on Thursday, Minister for Communications and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota said that the cabinet meeting held on Monday had decided to incorporate the multipurpose project in the list of national pride projects. According to Baskota, preparation of detailed project report (DPR) of the diversion project is at the final stage. “Construction work will begin once the DPR is finalized,” he added.
In the budget for FY2019/20, the government has about designating the multipurpose project as a national pride project. The government has earmarked Rs 2.5 billion for the project in the current fiscal year. Likewise, the ruling Nepal Communist Party, in its election manifesto, had also underscored giving priority to the multipurpose.
According to Baskota, the Sunkoshi-Marin Diversion Multipurpose Project will irrigate 125,000 hectares of land in Province 2. It intends to provide round-the-year irrigation facility to five drought-prone districts of the province – Rautahat, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi and Bara. These districts in the southern plains face recurring problem of insufficient rainfall that affect agricultural productions from the region.
The project with an estimated cost of more than Rs 83 billion is located in Sindhuli and Ramechhap districts. It will divert water from the Sunkoshi River to the Marin Khola, a tributary of the Bagmati River, and augment discharge into the Bagmati Irrigation Canal. The project will also generate 28.62 MW of electricity.
“The project will be one of the game changers at a time when the government has sped up construction of infrastructure to achieve the macroeconomic goals,” Baskota added.
Sunkoshi-Marin will be the second inter-basin infrastructure project to make use of a tunnel boring machine after the Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project in Surkhet. The cost of the irrigation component of the multipurpose project is estimated to be Rs 37.2 billion, while the hydropower is expected to cost Rs 46.19 billion.