Dogged by delay, UKP cost spirals up to ₹65,000 crore

It is due to cost of land acquisition compensation: Karjol

Over the last decade, the estimated cost of completing Upper Krishna Project (UKP) to utilise 130 tmcft of Krishna river water awarded to Karnataka in the Krishna river Water Tribunal 2 has gone up from about ₹17,000 crore in 2011-2012 to about ₹65,000 crore now.

On Wednesday, as the debate on the delay in launching projects saw participation from across the political spectrum in the Legislative Council, Water Resources Minister Govind Karjol informed that though the estimated cost has gone up, nothing much could be done unless the gazette notification on tribunal award is issued by the Centre. “The big jump in the cost was due to the increased cost of compensation in land acquisition post 2013. About 1.34 lakh acres needed to be acquired,” the Minister said.

The Krishna tribunal 2 headed by Brijesh Kumar gave its award in December 2010, and about 130 tmcft of water is sought to be used in Alamatti. The UKP 3 envisages increased impounding capacity of Alamatti by raising the dam height from 519 m to 524 m. This would involve acquisition of 1.3 lakh acres, including that of 75,000 acres that would be submerged. Once completed, the irrigated area in Krishna command area in Karnataka will be about 30 lakh acres.“We have sought clearance of DPR from the Centre and sought national project status to the project. Joint efforts with Maharashtra is being undertaken to secure the notification,” Mr. Karjol said. Meanwhile, he said, Government’s priority was of rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected, and surveys for land acquisition is being conducted. "188 villages are expected to be affected by backwaters of Alamatti and 20 villages will be completely submerged."

Earlier, asking the reason for the government not taking up related works in Alamatti without waiting for the gazette notification, Leader of the Opposition S.R. Patil said the completion of the project would address the issue of regional imbalance. “The government has ignored the project with as many as 58% posts in UKP remaining vacant,” he said.

Seeking to know why the gazette notification was not possible on the lines of Cauvery and Mahadayi that would be subject to Supreme Court order, Mr. Patil said: “It is now a double engine government (BJP government being at both Centre and State). The State government has to remind Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Karnataka has sent 25 BJP MPs. You should influence Mr. Modi to get the gazette notification,” said Mr. Patil. He also said that compensation amount had to be enhanced since the amount will not be adequate to even pay loans raised by farmers. Speaking on the efforts to get national project status for UKP, he said: "When UKP 1 and 2 could be completed by the state, we do not know why the state has gone to the centre to complete the UKP 3."

Congress member R.B Thimmapur raised the issue of differential compensation for the same project in different taluks of Bagalkot district. JD(S) member Thippeswamy reminded the government that a fresh DPR had to be done since the Centre had returned the earlier one.

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