KATHMANDU/ NEPALGUNJ, August 1: A week has elapsed since the main canal of Sikta Irrigation Project broke down during testing but the government remains non-responsive on the matter of a project which is meant for making an economic impact in Province 5.
Locals have demanded a probe into the failure of the canal which was damaged during a test carried out at a lower capacity on July 24.
But the government has not yet started even discussion on the matter of damages in the national pride project in which the government has poured in the taxpayers’ money worth Rs 14 billion since the national pride project started with the aim of irrigating 33,766 hectares of land and also rehabilitating the Dunduwa Irrigation System in Banke.
Approached for comments to know the government’s response on the incident, the irrigation secretary, officials of the Department of Irrigation either avoided to talk or did not receive calls and SMS message sent by Republica.
The secretariat of Energy Minister Barshaman Pun said that it did not have any information and again referred Republica’s queries to Secretary Sanjay Sharma, who referred to DoI Director General Saroj Pandit or project manager Ramesh Basnet.
Sharma said he did not have time to look into this project in detail.
“I got to know that there was weak soil and perhaps the design was faulty but I cannot say anything with certainty on this matter,” Sharma stopped short of telling details and asked to contact Project Manager Basnet.
During Republica’s visit to the project office on Tuesday to inquire on the incident, no senior official including Basnet was found in the office. The junior officials said that all were away on field visits.
The political leaders at the center have milked the project by using its resources during the visit to the district and also their cadres and relatives have been appointed at the project on political pressure.
The same project was at the heart of the political agenda of the candidates during local, provincial and federal elections last year but they are silent when there is a big damage in the project which is expected to uplift the economic status of not only the district but also the province. Locals have blamed nexus between politicians and the contractor behind the substandard work.
A similar damage in another canal of the same project had happened in 2016. Kalika Construction Pvt Ltd is the civil contractor for the multi-billion project and the contractor has claimed that it is not responsible for the damage.