Sikta Irrigation Project delay leaves farmers at receiving end

Nepalgunj, February 26

As the construction of Sikta Irrigation Project drags on with no sign of completion anytime soon, the inordinate delay has left thousands of farmers at the receiving end in Banke.

The national glory project, estimated to benefit around 46,000 households of farmers, was launched with a view of jacking up the per capita gross domestic product from the existing 1,492 dollars to 4,565 dollars.

“Once the project is complete, it will push up production nearly by twofold,” said Nepal Agriculture Research Council scientist Ramdas Chaudhary, adding that the slackness in construction had led to sustained increase in import of food from India.

As per the data with Nepalgunj Customs, import of food has increased by 15 per cent in recent years. “In the last fiscal alone, rice worth 6.47 billion was imported from Nepalgunj customs,” said customs Chief Shantiram Niraula.

The irrigation project has two main canals, which are estimated to cater to some 42,766 hectare farmland. But so far only 60 per cent of the project work has been finished, it’s been learnt. Some 16 billion rupees has been spent on the work so far.

As the project and contractor carried out construction of the canals without soil-test, even the stretches of the canals built so far have fallen apart and are in need of repair.

Though the project was stipulated to be completed by the end of December last year, it was granted extension of one more year as almost half of the work was unfinished.

“As the contractor has expedited construction of the project lately, we hope the work will be completed within the extended deadline,” said project chief Krishna Nepal.