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Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar/Bolangir: Oppositions parties on Monday lashed out at the Odisha government over the inordinate delay in completion of the Lower Suktel irrigation project, which has been hanging fire due to issues like land acquisition and rehabilitation of the displaced people.

"Future of the Lower Suktel project is hanging on the new Detail Project Report (DPR). The State government should immediately complete the project," said Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja adding that the Odisha government should stop cheating people of Bolangir district.

It is pertinent to mention here that while 70 per cent of the spillway work has already been completed, construction work has been reportedly stopped for the last three years due to the Mahandi water dispute.

Though the Ministry of Jal Shakti has returned the second 'Detail Project Report' (DPR) of the project, the Odisha government is yet to submit a new DPR, raising questions on the fate of the project as no funds will be released without the approval.

On the status of the project, an RTI reply revealed that 'the proposal for the Lower Suktel irrigation project was returned to the State government with the request to submit the proposal afresh based on the award of Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal information'.

A team of Odisha government officials including the Chief Secretary, Western Odisha Development Council head and the 5T secretary recently visited the project site and later informed that the construction work will begin soon after discussion with the displaced agitating villagers.

"We will try our best to resolve the issues soon. We discussed how to end the impasse and complete the project as soon as possible," said chief secretary Suresh Mohapatra.

Reacting sharply to the visit by the government officials, BJP MLA Mukesh Mahaling said, "A high-level team visited the project site as the panchayat election is on the cards. The State government has no clarity on the compensation to the displaced people. The government had also assured a package for the displaced but no announcement has been made yet."

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