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Ranchi: It took 42 years to build a Jharkhand irrigation project, and then within 24 hours of its inauguration, the canal meant to provide water in 85 villages across Giridih, Hazaribagh and Bokaro districts was washed away.

The state administration has found rodents to pin the blame on.

The irrigation project in Giridih district was dedicated to the people by Chief Minister Raghubar Das on Wednesday. Within 24 hours of its inauguration, a major breach developed in the canal, causing extensive flooding in several villages.

"The initial probe suspected 'rat holes' causing damage to the canal," said the government statement released on Friday.

Arun Kumar Singh, Additional Chief Secretary of the Water Resources Department tweeted that following the breach in the canal and damage caused to the crops a high-level team led by Chief Engineer, advance projects of the Water Resources Department, has been constituted.

The reports are to be submitted within 24 hours. The repair works are on.

In 1978, the then Governor of undivided Bihar Jaggananth Kaushal had laid the foundation of the project, but due to several reasons, including the indifference of the successive governments, the project got delayed. The cost of the project also escalated from Rs 12 crore in 1978 to Rs 2,500 crore.

In 2003, the then Chief Minister Arjun Munda again laid the foundation stone for the canal, but work moved at snails pace.

In 2012, once again tender was floated for the project, which was bagged by a Mumbai-based company.

As per the Water Resources Department, the total length of the canal is 404.17 km, and on a regular basis per day 800 cusecs water can be released while the overall target is to release 1,700 cusecs per day.

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