A day before Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was to inaugurate a Ganga pump canal project in Bhagalpur on Wednesday, the embankment of the canal could not withstand the pressure of water released into it by five motor pumps and came crashing down.
The Bateshwarsthan Ganga Pump Canal Project is a joint scheme by Bihar and Jharkhand.
Floodwaters from the breach inundated several areas of Kahalgaon town in Bhagalpur district including residential areas in the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) township there.
Bihar government admitted that collapsing of the canal embankment was technical failure. It is important to note that the government has spent 389.31 crore on Gateshwar Panth Canal Project, its ambitious irrigation project which aims at improving the poor land irrigation system that the state is coping with.
The inauguration of the dam has been cancelled as a fallout of the incident and CM Nitish Kumar has cancelled his visit. It would provide relief from lack of irrigation facilities to 18,620 hectares in Bhagalpur, Bihar and 22,658 hectares in Godda, Jharkhand.
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The project was approved by Planning Commission in 1977 at an estimated cost of almost Rs. 14 crore but it got delayed by four decades during which the cost of the project increased manifold.
Lallan Singh, Minister of Water Resources, claimed, "the dam broke due to release of water in full capacity". The first administrative approval to the project was provided in 2008 involving a cost of Rs 389.31 crore, the brochure said.
Hours before the inauguration, a portion of a dam in Bhagalpur's Kahalgaon collapsed leaving the state government red-faced. "Yet another dam collapses due of corruption", Tejashwi said in his tweet.
"This incident is a clear manifestation of how corruption is rampant in developmental work being carried out in the present govt", said Lalu Prasad, RJD chief. "This shows how poorly the canal was built when Lalu was CM", said Ajay Alok, JDU spokesperson.