Bhubaneswar: Ending a wait of over two decades, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today launched the much awaited Lower Suktel Irrigation Project in Balangir district.
The project worth Rs 2,723 crore, considered to be a major leap of development for the agrarian community in the drought-prone district, is expected to facilitate irrigation in over one lakh acre farmland in 203 villages of Balangir and Sonepur districts while benefiting around 80,000 farmers. The project is touted to have the ninth major dam in the State at a height of 31 metre, a 1,155 metre long earthen dam and a 255 metre long spillway. Apart from irrigation, it will also provide drinking water facility in the area to over 70,000 people.
While the project’s foundation stone had been laid in 2001 by the CM, the project had faced inordinate delay over rehabilitation and resettlement issues which in turn had led to cost escalation from an initial Rs 217 crore to nearly Rs 3,000 crore.
In an official release, the Chief Minister’s Office stated that there will be no displacement for irrigation as pressurised underground pipelines will be laid for the purpose.
Hailing the sacrifices of families displaced from 29 villages for the project, the CM said their contribution will be remembered for posterity.
The Lower Suktel Project will herald a new chapter in the agricultural development of Balangir district as woes of farmers in the drought-prone district will dissipate with irrigation facility. Balangir is progressing in education, health and infrastructure. Now the district will take great strides in agriculture as well with the launch of the Lower Suktel project. It is my firm belief that with the support of people of Balangir, the district will reach new heights in development,” he said.
In addition, other projects worth Rs 2,525 crore were announced for the district in various sectors. Foundation stone was laid for 112 projects worth Rs 2,220 crore apart from launching of 69 projects worth Rs 305 crore.
Among others, Health and Family Welfare Minister Niranjan Pujari, Balangir MP Sangeeta Kumari Singhdeo, Rajya Sabha member Niranja Bisi, Balangir MLA Narasingh Mishra, Patnagarh MLA and district planning committee chairperson Saroj Meher were present.