Work hit over compensation issue

Bhimduttanagar, December 12

The delay surrounding distribution of compensation to owners whose lands were acquired by the Mahakali Irrigation Project to construct the 15-km main canal has further delayed the project.

Although the tunnel digging process is expected to be completed within three years in three packages since the signing of the agreement 22 months ago, the project has not progressed an inch so far due to compensation issue. The Mahakali Irrigation Project Third Phase Office has not been able to address the issue of compensation related to the lands acquired from locals where the canal is to be dug and constructed.

Although other physical infrastructure such as bridges and culverts, among others, have been built by the contract winning companies, compensation disputes are yet to be resolved by the Project Office.

The Mahakali Irrigation Project Third Phase Office Director Lok Bahadur Thapa claimed that compensation had already been distributed to land owners in possession of land ownership certificate.

Thapa admitted that compensation could not be distributed to land owners who could not produce land ownership certificates.

Among the land acquired by the Project, 18 hectare was unregistered, according to him.

Thapa explained, “Some 18 hectare of the land being used did not have land ownership certificate, causing delay in distribution of compensation.” He said, “We will call a meeting of the compensation fixation committee soon and discuss the issue with participation of the farmers.”

Last fiscal 2018-19, a total of Rs 200 million was allocated for compensation. More than Rs 50 million was frozen later. Locals at Bedkot Municipality, where the canal is to be built, have been saying that those using unregistered land in the area acquired by the Project Office should be provided compensation equally as they were.

Locals as well as construction entrepreneurs, however, blame the project office for delay in canal construction. One construction entrepreneur, on the condition of anonymity, fumed, “Although 65 per cent of the deadline to construct the main canal is over, only 20 per cent of the work related to it has been completed so far. If compensation issue had been addressed, 70 per cent of the canal would have been completed by now.”

India, under the Indo-Nepal Integrated Mahakali Treaty, has agreed to construct the head regulator of the 1,200-metre long and 13.60-metre wide canal from Tanakpur Barrage to Matena, Bhimduttanagar Municipality-9 in Kanchanpur district.

The Government of Nepal has already constructed 13 km of the canal so far. The total length of the canal to be built under this project is 151 km and it is to be built at an estimated cost of Rs 27 billion.

Upon completion, the canal will irrigate around 33,520 hectare arable land, stretching from Malakheti in Kailai district to all the arable land in Kanchanpur.