Gross irregularities in Varahi project leave minister red-faced

Gross irregularities in Varahi project leave minister red-faced

The irregularities in Varahi irrigation project wherein the engineers took up the construction works on the land which they rejected earlier to avoid the compensation echoed in the review meeting chaired by the District in-charge Minister Pramodh Madhwaraj.

Seeing a criminal intent in the act, the minister said the engineers and officials involved in the alleged irregularities should be penalised. The officials, who had earlier rejected the land in question in order to avoid compensation, has taken up the works pertaining to an irrigation project, he lamented and directed the deputy commissioner to take up the matter for investigation and submit a report on the same immediately.

The other issue that surfaced in the meeting was that the compensation was not paid to the owners of the land that was identified and acquired for Right Bank Canal (RBC).  The authorities have not initiated the works on vast tract of land acquired for the project nor have allowed the farmers to cultivate the said land.

Haladi GP president Sarvottham Shetty alleged that the Varahi engineers are not bothered to address the problems of the farmers.  Varahi project is mired in irregularities and corruption. The engineers, who were accused of carrying out substandard works at Molahalli at 23 kilometres of LBC, have been entrusted with the work instead of blacklisting them, he alleged.

Superintending Engineer Padmanabha said, “The command area in the land structure is changed. The acquisition process for 70 acres of deemed forest area is pending before the Forest and the Revenue department.”

Of the proposed 15,000 hectares of farmland for irrigation project, only 4400 hectares of farmland is being targeted. Elaborating on the progress of the work, engineer B M Hegde said, “On 30 to 38 km stretch of Left Bank Canal, about 4.5 km works has been completed. Rs 45 crore was earmarked for the purpose. The Kumki land issue and legal issues have put spanners in the work.  If the work is completed, the water would flow towards Asodu village in Thekkatte.  He added that there are seven distributors in the stretch and the works are underway.  The work on 23 km mark at LBC was tendered somewhere eight years ago and retendering would be done as the work remained incomplete,” he explained.

The Ulluru villagers complained that they do not have sufficient water for drinking. The project should be executed early. The arecanut farms are wilting due to the sultry clay and water deposited in the farm field in the process of construction works.

The minister directed that all the applications should be sorted out within a week and compensation should be given at the earliest to the land losers.  Alleging the irregularities and apathy in discharging the duties, the minister said that the Varahi irrigation department has to organise programme to interact with the people who are affected in the region to build up the rapport. He added that the public can directly contact the in-charge officials and submit the grievances.

He said that he would hold another review meet on October 28, and the official should come up with cent percent compliance, he said.

MLC Prathapchandra Shetty expressed his dissatisfaction that even after 37 years of the proposed project, the irrigation project executive engineers are unaware that which area is covered under the project.

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