Insufficient budget affects Sikta Irrigation Project

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Nepalgunj, Apr. 4: The construction work of Sikta Irrigation Project, a national pride project, in Banke has been affected due to lack of budget.

Devraj Niraula, director of the project, said that the project was not likely to be completed on time since only Rs. 750 million was allocated in the Fiscal Year 2023/24 for the project.

He said it would take approximately nine years to complete the project, based on the current progress and the budget available.

According to Niraula, the project started in the Fiscal Year 2005/06 and later revised as a master plan was targeted to be completed by 2032/33. The estimated cost of the project according to the master plan has reached Rs. 52.89 billion, out of which Rs. 21 billion has already been spent.

He said, “To complete the project in the remaining nine years, we need to spend Rs. 31 billion, which means we require an annual budget of at least Rs. 3.5 billion. If we continue to receive the budget at the current rate, it will take another 31 years to complete the project.”

He said that they were unable to provide compensation to 500 farmers due to insufficient budget. He said that only Rs. 134 million out of Rs. 588.9 million was distributed to farmers in the current fiscal year. He said that they needed additional Rs. 300 million for compensating the farmers.

Currently, branch canal construction is underway in areas such as Gurwa village, Parsenipur, Akalgharuwa, Sidhaniya and Gohawal. Despite completing all the necessary paperwork for compensation distribution to farmers in the branch canal construction areas, the project faces challenges due to insufficient budget allocation.

According to Niraula, due to insufficient budget neither they could compensate farmers nor they could accelerate the project.

Meanwhile, farmers who haven’t received compensation on time are unable to sell their land or secure loans against their property, which in turn hampers further progress in the project.

Sandesh Paudel, divisional engineer and information officer of the project, informed that the project has achieved a physical progress of 40.22 per cent and a financial progress of 39.38 per cent.

Source: Rising Nepal