‘Farakka barrage gates to be replaced in 5 yrs’

All gates of Farakka barrage will be replaced in the next five years, of which 33 most vulnerable ones will be replaced "immediately".

New Delhi: All gates of Farakka barrage will be replaced in the next five years, of which 33 most vulnerable ones will be replaced "immediately", Water Resource Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Wednesday said.

He said in the Rajya Sabha that maintenance of the Farakka barrage would be stepped up.

"It is our plan that 33 most vulnerable gates will be replaced immediately for which tender has been floated...And all gates will be replaced in the next five years," he said.

Replying to discussion initiated by D Bandopadhyay (AITC) on `water leakage in Farakka dam`, Bansal said it would be government`s endeavour to "ensure that such things does not recur".

The dam has been in news after two sluice gates were reported to have collapsed.

The issue was raised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee when she met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on February 22, demanding immediate repair of the two broken gates through which 80 per cent water was flowing to Bangladesh.

The Centre ordered an inquiry to ascertain the reasons for the breakage of the two gates and the delay in repairs.

Bansal refuted suggestions of any ulterior motive behind the incident, saying there was "no question of anyone colluding with anyone. If you have any suspicion, please remove it from your mind".

He said repair work of the gates were taken up right from the day of the breakage but there was delay owing to several factors including resistance from trade unions there holding conflicting interests.

"The work is complex and humongous in nature" given the size of the barrage, he said.

Bansal, however, noted that incidents of gates collapsing had taken place earlier also in 1998, 2007 and 2008.

He said the repair work to restore the two gates were completed in April this year and "the work has been done to the satisfaction of everyone".

He said that as far as protection and maintenance are concerned, "we have to step up our efforts".
Bansal agreed with the member that siltation was a "major problem" but said the anti-erosion work has extended both in the up-stream and down-stream.
Pradip Bhattacharya (Cong), Prashanta Chatterjee (CPI-M), Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (AITC) and Anil Sahani (JD-U) participated in the discussion.


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