Dispersive soil affects Sikta irrigation project

Kathmandu, October 14

The main reason for the frequent collapse of the Sikta Irrigation Project — a national pride project — is the dispersive soil structure in the area.

A government study committee that was formed to study the cause behind the frequent collapse of the project has revealed that the government had not conducted a feasibility study before the project was commissioned.

The Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation (MoEWRI) had formed a study committee to find out the facts behind the collapse of the canal on August 8.

The government had formed a five-member team led by Sushil Chandra Tiwari, joint secretary at the MoEWRI. The committee had submitted its final report to Minister of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barsha Man Pun on Friday.

The study report states that while designing the canal, the consultant had not carried out a proper test of the soil structure along the path of the canal, which is why problems have surfaced now.

The main canal suffered heavy damages in between a stretch of 20 km and 25 km from Rapti River on two occasions — in June 2016 and June 2018.

The report also states that drainage outlets should have been made for excess water to flow out of the canal during the monsoon when the canal receives a huge amount of rainwater and sediment deposits.

The study report has also suggested the government to ask Kalika Construction Company that is responsible for construction of the Sikta Irrigation Project to reconstruct the damaged parts of the canal.

The project is being built with an aim to irrigate 80 per cent of the fertile land in Banke district but questions have been raised as to whether it will be able to fulfil its objective due to the frequent collapse of the canal.

The report has also suggested the government to manage the sediments that are deposited in the canal by the adjoining streams during the monsoon season. It has further asked the government to immediately construct cross-drainage

system and also build escape and spillway structures in necessary places.

The report further says that in places where there is dispersive soil structure the government needs to add better quality soil from other places so as to prevent the canal from collapsing.