New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave approval to complete the remaining work on the North Koel reservoir project that will provide irrigation water for 1,11,521 hectares of land in most drought-prone areas of Jharkhand and Bihar.
The unfinished project is currently providing water for 71,720 hectares. The estimated cost of completing the project is Rs 1,622.27 crore, which would be spent in three financial years from the start of the project.
The Cabinet also approved the storage of water in the dam restricted at a lower level than envisaged earlier to reduce submergence area and to protect the Betla National Park and the Palamau Tiger Reserve.
The project is situated on North Koel river, a tributary of Sone river that finally merges into the Ganges.
Addressing the media here, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the project in the Maoist-affected areas had been pending for many years.
He said the project cost, when it was started in 1972, was Rs 113 crore.
Prasad said of the estimated Rs 2,300 crore needed to complete the project, Rs 700 crore has been incurred and Rs 1,622 crore will be spent by the central government.
He said the Home Ministry had assured of full security and all necessary clearances have been obtained.
The North Koel reservoir is located in the tribal areas in Palamau and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand. The construction of the project continued till 1993 when it was stopped by the Bihar Forest Department.
The major components of the project are a 67.86 m high and 343.33 m long concrete Mandal dam originally intended to store 1,160 million cubic metre (MCM) water; 819.6 m long barrage at Mohammadganj, 96 km downstream of the dam; and two canals originating from left and right banks of Mohammadganj Barrage with a distributaries system for irrigation.
"With the new lowered elevation level of 341 metres, the Mandal dam will now have storage of 190 MCM. The project aims to provide irrigation to 1,11,521 hectares annually in the most backward and drought prone areas of Palamu and Garhwa districts in Jharkhand apart from Aurangabad and Gaya districts in Bihar," an official release said.
After completion, the project will provide additional irrigation benefit to 39,801 hectares.