Barely five days are left to meet the deadline for completing the planned 393 flood protection schemes, but the water resources department of the Bihar Government has not been able to finish even a single project by now, due to the delayed administrative approval to the budgetary allocation for prevention of floods in the State.
A very high level source in the flood protection wing told HT that though the Bihar State Flood Control Board (BSFCB), headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, cleared the schemes in January this year, the Government granted the administrative approval for the allocation only 15 days ago.
Notably, except for the Ganga related schemes, the department has fixed April 30 as the deadline for completing all the flood protection measures. May 31 is the last date for completion of the schemes on the Ganga.
Immediately after the clearance of the schemes by the BSFCB, the department invited tenders in anticipation of getting quick approval for release of the funds. But as the administrative approval was delayed the field engineers were asked to keep the tender applications under lock and key.
Even though the approval has been obtained, the agony of the department has not ended here. A majority of the schemes recommended by its engineers were not cleared and the request for the requisite money was not adequately entertained.
In October-November last year, sub-committees of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and officials of the high level committees on the Koshi and the Gandak toured the flood prone areas and submitted a list of 629 schemes for the current year to the TAC at a projected cost of Rs 518.03 crore.
The TAC, in turn, cleared 560 schemes at a projection of Rs 471 core. The recommendations were submitted to the Scheme Review Committee (SRC) for approval. However, the SRC approved only 393 schemes at a projected cost of 152 crore.
The BSFCB, which met in January, accepted the recommendations and asked the department to go-ahead with the schemes.
However, the real ordeal for department was yet to come. As against Rs 152 crore, the government decided to give only about Rs 86 crore. This includes approximately Rs 63 crore for anti-erosion work and the rest for the construction of the extended parts of the Bagmati and Champaran embankments.
The cut in the allocation has directly affected the village flood protection schemes. Now the department is left with no option but to drop all the 122 projects meant for protecting the villages from the floods.
Its cup of miseries was filled to the brim on April 10, when the Government granted administrative approval for only around Rs 55 crore as against the allotted Rs 86 crore.
When contacted, the water resources minister Ramashray Prasad Singh admitted that there was some shortfall in the allocation but said there was nothing to be worried, as all the schemes would be completed definitely before June 15. " Money will not be an hindrance for us. We will arrange it any how," he added.