Ranjha–The work progress of the Sikta Irrigation Project, a project of national pride, is very slow. Only 60 per cent of the project has been completed in 14 years since the start of the construction.
This is Nepal's largest irrigation project being constructed by the government with its own resources. Its estimated cost is Rs 25 billion. Project chief Krishna Prasad Nepal said 60 per cent works of the project has been completed and the target is to complete all the remaining works within this fiscal year 2019/20.
The project will irrigate 42,000 hectares of land in Banke district through its 45.25 kilometres long western main canal and 53 kilometres long eastern main canal.
Paddy is cultivated on 35,970 hectares land in Banke. Of this area, about 13,700 or 25 per cent of total cultivable land has irrigation facility at present.
Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Barsha Man Pun has carried out on-site inspection and monitoring of the project from time to time and has directed the Project authorities to expedite the project's works.
The Project office is still stuck in the construction of the main canal only. The construction of the branch canals and subsidiary cabals is also very slow. Eighteen sluice gates constructed on the main canal at Agaiya three years back have not yet been brought into operation.
Although the construction of the west main canal has been complete, it has been found breaking at several places whenever water is released in the canal for trial run. The canal has also not been handed over yet.
Shalik Ram Dangi, president of the Main Consumer Committee, said that farmers have been facing problem as the project works have not been completed in time.
"We approached the Ministry and other related bodies demanding that we need irrigation facility. We only received assurances from these quarters but our needs remain still unfulfilled," he said in exasperation at the delay in the project works.