Major embankment repair works delayed in Bihar

Some of them awaiting nod of Ganga Flood Control Committee

A good monsoon in Bihar this year might lead to more severe floods because major maintenance work for flood control in the state is likely to get delayed by over two months.

Over a dozen projects related to embankment strengthening and maintenance is awaiting nod from the Ganga Flood Control Committee. Some of the major works that will be delayed include Pipra, Ismailpur, Bindtoli embankments along the Ganga river.

The state government had fixed December 28, last year as the date for issuing tenders for the civil work. The construction and repair work was supposed to start from January 1 this year. The government had also fixed the deadline before the monsoon for completion of projects. It had planned to end all maintenance work by May 15.

Experts have been warning the water resources department about weak and poor maintenance of embankments. In the past few years, incidence of cracks appearing on embankments has increased three times. Major cracks that appeared on the embankments of the Kosi river in 2008, the Bagmati in 2009 and the Pipra last year resulted in loss of human lives and property.

Superintendent engineer, Flood Control Planning and Monitoring, Jawahar Lal, accepted that nine major projects are running behind schedule. The department is making efforts to issue the tenders and resume work at the earliest, he said. According to the rules of the tenders, the department has to give at least one to two months’ time to prospective bidders while invite tenders.

“We have convened series of meeting of Ganga Flood Control Committee to speed up the formalities for the project,” Lal said.

According to the government records, a total of 3,753 km of embankments needs strengthening. It also includes increasing the height of embankments at places where siltation of river bed has increased by one metre.

Dinesh Mishra, who has been researching on floods in Bihar, has been regularly advocating that the state needs better monitoring and maintenance of embankments. “Embankments in Bihar crack because of callous approach of engineers,” he said.

Water resource minister Bijay Kumar Chaudhary admitted that 11-12 projects are delayed because they are being revised by the Ganga Flood Control Committee. "It's unfortunate that projects are delayed but we are doing everything possible to start the work," he said.

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