Embarrassment for Nitish as Bihar canal collapses

Patna, Sep 20: A portion of a canal that was to be inaugurated on Wednesday by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar collapsed a day earlier, embarrassing the government.

The incident occurred in Bhagalpur district on Tuesday evening, forcing the Chief Minister to cancel his scheduled visit to the area on Wednesday.

A portion of the Rs 389.31-crore Bateshwarsthan Ganga Pump Canal Project collapsed, resulting in the inundation of residential areas and the National Thermal Power Corp (NTPC) plant in Kahalgaon.

The project got under way in 1996-97 and took years to get ready.

According to officials, the canal was a joint scheme of Bihar and Jharkhand under which 18,620 hectares of land in Bhagalpur and 4,038 hectares in Godda district of Jharkhand would be irrigated.

The project has a total irrigation capacity of 27,603 hectares, of which 22,816 hectares is in Bihar and 4,887 hectares in Jharkhand.

The Planning Commission had approved the project in 1977 at an estimated cost of Rs 13.88 crore.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) demanded a high-level probe into the incident.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad blamed rampant corruption and alleged that poor quality of construction caused its collapse.

"The canal collapsed due to rampant corruption," RJD spokesperson Shakti Yadav said.

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