On a fine August morning, two launches packed with West Bengal government heavyweights and scribes set sail on chief minister Buddhadeb Bhatttacharjee's new waterways project a 20 km stretch of three canals from Chitpur Lock Gate to New Town via Salt Lake in Kolkata. But M V Durga and M V Niharika didn't get too far. Halfway through the trip, they got stuck in mud. A fine sight it was for residents of bastis along the canals they cheered as the powdered ladies and gentlemen scrambled to firm ground. This was too much for the officials. They cancelled the scheduled press conference and beat a hasty retreat to lick their wounds in private and trade accusations.
The Rs 20-crore joint project by the state irrigation and transport departments, Kolkata Municipal Corporation and the Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (hidco), involved de-silting the canals and making them navigable using water from the Hooghly. The trial run was a trip from Chitpur Lock Gate to Ultadanga, the point till which the canal had officially been desilted. Only it appears now that the canal was far from desilted to the required depth.
The blame game naturally is in full swing with hidco and transport officials saying the irrigation department didn't monitor the desilting and irrigation accusing the transport department of supplying them faulty launches.
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