The Centre has approved the Rs 4,900 crore project for interlinking of Kosi and Mechi rivers of Bihar, state Water Resources Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha said on Saturday. This is the second major river interlinking project in the country to be approved after the Ken-Betwa project in Madhya Pradesh.
"Bihar has got the final remaining mandatory techno- administrative approval for the project from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC)," Jha said in a statement. The central government has approved construction of 76.20 km canals on eastern bank of Kosi for irrigation purpose, the minister said.
Terming it as a "green project", Jha said it will not displace people nor require acquisition of forest land. "The total land requirement is about 1,396.81 hectares. There are no national parks, wildlife sanctuaries or eco-sensitive zones within 10 km radius of the project," he said.
He said the project will not only prevent recurring floods in north Bihar, but also irrigate over 2.14 lakh hectares of cultivable land in Araria, Purnea, Kishanganj and Katihar districts, collectively called Seemanchal region. "The project is aimed at alleviating hardships of the people resulting from the floods and has the potential to usher in a green revolution in Seemanchal region," the minister said, adding that the project was a brainchild of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Jha said Bihar is pitching the river interlinking project for the "national project" status and in that case the majority funding of the project will be borne by the Centre. "The fact that the entire command area is contiguous to Indo-Nepal international boundary is a critical aspect that the Government of India would likely take special note of in our quest for getting it declared as a national project," Jha said.
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