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April 8, 2014

1000 days at a glance: Expanding Irrigation services

Under the leadership of Ms. Mamata Banerjee, the West Bengal Government has made rapid developments in the irrigation sector. Not only has the 5-year target set for Jal Dharo Jal Bharo been met, but overshot by a handsome margin in just two years. 

Entire state is being provided with irrigation services and means of communication through waterways are being strengthened. The government has undertaken the work of providing water to the dry areas of Paschimanchal, building embankments at flood-porne areas. Use of technology is also among the highlights of the department.

Here are the achievements of the Irrigation and Waterways Department:

Irrigation – Water is the strength of the farmer:

  • Irrigation water is being supplied to 1.34 acres of land through canals in the western districts, which remained victims of negligence for the last few decades.
  • Projects have been taken up to bring 58,000 acres of land in the current financial year and 1.24 lakh more acres of land in the coming financial year.
  • In all, 8.95 lakh acres of land are being fed with irrigation water across the state through big and medium-sized irrigation projects in the current rabi/boro season. This is the highest quantum in the last seven years.
  • In a never-before attempt, almost 1.10 lakh acres of land are being fed with irrigation water during rabi/boro seasons under the Teesta Barrage Project in North Bengal.
  • 14 check dams are being built up in the remote areas of drought-prone Purulia so that rain-harvested water can be utilised. In the coming financial year, 23 more check-dams are proposed for implementation.

More canals to be reclaimed:

  • Work for reclaiming canals measuring 330 km, specially in the South Bengal districts, has been taken up in the financial years, 2012-13 and 2013-14. The projects that are remarkable in this respect are:
  • Canals adjoining Keleghai, Kapaleswari and Chandia rivers, and Hijli Tidal Canal in West and East Midnapore, Damodar Short Cut Channel, Nayabaaz Canal and Bigachhi Canal in Howrah, Upper and Lower Bagjola Canals, Tollygunj Panchannagram Canal system, canal adjoining Ichhamati river and Beleghata Canal in North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata.
  • Besides all these, a bunch of projects for reclaiming canals like Denan-Dehati, Shankarara, Damodar, Kestopur Bhangarkata, Noai, Monikhali, and others have been approved.
  • The much-awaited Ghatal Master Plan is waiting for the approval of the union government. The state government is determined for its speedy implementation.
  • The finished and partly-finished projects have readily yielded better results. Despite very heavy rainfall last year, water receded at a rapid pace from the lower catchments areas of Keleghai and Kapaleswari rivers, which historically have been prone to floods, and other areas, and thus attained the hearty blessings of the local people.

Protection of river banks and dams, and thus the security of common people:

  • A huge amount of work in relation to the prevention of river-bank and coastal erosion and to the protection of dams is going on across the state.
  • In the last two-and-a-half years, projects for preventing erosion and strengthening dams, including those damaged by the cyclone Aila in the Sundarbans, have been implemented along 518 km and work for the same is on in another 100-km stretch.
  • The most remarkable of the finished and nearly finished projects are protection of the historic Tamluk town from the erosion of the Rupnarayan river and the beautification as well as anti-erosion measures of the Digha-Sankarpur coast.
  • More advanced technology like geo-synthetic filter and bag and concrete blocks are being applied for arresting erosion.
  • Initiative is being taken to implement the Kandi Master Plan in Murshidabad district by phases.

Building of roads and bridges, provision for communication:

  • In the last two-and-a-half years, the work for 30 concrete bridges has been completed and they are being used by the people.
  • Projects for building 95 new bridges over various major and minor rivers and canals in remote rural areas, in keeping with the increasing demand, have been taken up. This is without precedence in the history of the state`s irrigation and waterways.
  • Work for 43 bridges is on with a thrust in different districts of South Bengal. The Lalgarh Bridge over the Kansavati river is a remarkable example. 52 more bridges have been approved recently, work for which will begin shortly.
  • Apart from these, work for replacing old dilapidated bridges with new concrete ones will be taken up in the coming financial year on a priority basis.
  • Bituminous roads measuring 73 km have been constructed within three-and-a-half months along the banks of the rivers Mahananda and Fulahar in Malda district.

Application of technology for the purpose of enhancing overall efficiency, transparency and accountability:

  • The use of e-tendering system has been extended to the spheres of already existing major work involving an expenditure of Rs 5 lakh.
  • Initiative is being taken to introduce e-governance in the district offices in phases.
  • A 24×7 toll-free helpline has been operational in the district headquarters control room for South Bengal in Bidhannagar and for North Bengal in Jalpaiguri in order to exchange flood-related news during the rainy season and to directly communicate with people.