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  Locals threatento obstruct Bheri-Babai works

Say project not honoring its commitments

Locals of Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project affected areas have become agitated, stating the many villages have been removed from the list of project-affected areas of Bheri Corridor Multipurpose Project – a complementary project of Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project – among others.

They also complained that project conducted survey of the project and fixed compensation for land to be acquired for the project without consulting with the concerned local units. They have formed a pressure group, Bheri-Babai Diversion Concern Committee, comprising of representatives of Bheriganga, Gurbhakot and Lekbesi municipalities, and other stakeholders to pile pressure on the project officials. The committee on Wednesday submitted a 23-point charter of demands the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers and other line ministers through District Administration Office.

Bhupendra Bahadur Chand, mayor of Bheriganga Municipality who is also the coordinator of the committee, said that the locals had to start the protest as the project office failed to live up to its commitment that it had made when the project commenced. “Many villages have been removed from the list of project-affected areas. Also, project area has been surveyed and compensation amount determined without consulting local units,” he added.

Construction of rural roads, irrigation facility in fields lying within two kilometers of the main canal, electrification drive, infrastructure development and programs to create jobs for affected locals were some of the facilities promised to the locals when the Bheri Corridor Multipurpose Project was started.

Now the project has been downsized and renamed as Bheri Corridor Irrigation Project, according to Chand.

The first package of the Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project – digging of 12.2 km tunnel from Hattikhola to Chiple for diversion of waters of Bheri River into Babai River – has already been completed. The project used tunnel boring machine to dig the tunnel for the first time in Nepali infrastructure history. The second phase of the project aims to irrigate 51,000 hectares of land of Banke and Bardiya. Building a 48-MW hydropower project is also a component of the second phase of the project.

The committee has warned that it would obstruct work in dam and powerhouse area if their demands are not addressed within 15 days.

Among others, the committee minister has demanded access to electricity for each affected household, shares of the project free of cost, allocate 50% of the amount earned by selling energy to the project-affected areas, guarantee employment for people of the affected areas, upgrading of Chinchu-Kohalpur Road (Ratna Highway), drinking water tap in each household and start work on Bheriganga Model City as per the master plan approved by the government.

Similarly, they have demanded the government to open a province-level industrial village and a hospital, among others, in the project-affected area.

[November 29, 2019 / nagariknetwork.com]   
 
 
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