Ageing Sunsari-Morang irrigation line in dire straits

- Madhav Ghimire & Binod Bhandari, Chatara
Ageing Sunsari-Morang irrigation line in dire straits

Jun 21, 2015-

The ageing structure of the Sunsari-Morang irrigation line is in dire straits.

Almost all the structures, including the main canal, are in dilapidated condition, and can collapse at any time, experts have said.

The project, which irrigates 68,000 hectares of land, was constructed under the Indian government’s aid five decades ago, following the bilateral Koshi agreement. The plant is reported to have 50-year life span. The project is being operated only through some renovated structures.

The main canal is 53km long, while it is joined by a supplementary canal, head-works, sub-division canals, tertiary and water-course. Almost all of them have undergone repair time and again. The experts say the whole system needs to be rebuilt.

The project office said project has not been functioning in full capacity. It has affected irrigation mainly during the dry season. Although the capacity of the main canal is 60 cubic meters per second, it is reported to be operating at just 5 cubic meters per second.

The project faced more problems after the damage to the eastern embankment of the Koshi River seven years ago. The damage to embankment has decreased the water level at the intake of the project, affecting water flow, according to the project’s chief Madhukar Rajbhandari.

Two decades ago, around 1,200m long new intake was constructed along the northern underground water source after the old intake at Chatara became dysfunctional.

Rajbhandari said the project might not supply water this winter if the new barrage is constructed. “Every year, we operate the canal by fair maintenance even during the rainy season,” said Rajbhandari, adding almost Rs200 million out of the annual budget of Rs450 million is spent on maintenance of the old structures.

Following the Koshi agreement in 1954, the Indian Government handed over the irrigation plant to Nepal in 1972. The project demanded the government provide Rs99.9 million for the renovation of the entire structures.

Ram Charitra Yadav, project engineer, said they had to construct a bridge and a cross-regulator costing Rs53.7 million after the river damaged the canal. The project also constructed a new structure in Baklauri, Sunsari, at a cost of Rs25 million.

In addition, it spent Rs26.6 million to protect “siphon”. Yadav said they had to restructure the “siphon” which was at risk due to the water level in the canal and the river came to the same level. “Had it not been restructured, it would have been damaged by floods in the rainy season,” he said. Also, two machines have been fixed to construct head-works that help in bringing the water to the canal from the River.

Rajbhandari said they have sought the budget for both renovation and reconstruction. He said a technical team has recommended the government for the projects’ reconstruction.

Published: 22-06-2015 08:26

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