Cong to halt 2 irrigation projects approved by BJP, say officials

By, Belagavi
Jun 09, 2023 12:44 AM IST

Karnataka Congress government has decided to halt two irrigation projects approved by former BJP minister Ramesh Jarkiholi citing corruption

The Congress government has decided to halt two irrigation projects sanctioned by Gokak BJP MLA and former minister Ramesh Jarkiholi. According to government officials, those responsible for overseeing the projects discovered that the estimated costs provided by Jarkiholi were significantly higher than the actual costs.

 (Wikimedia Commons)
(Wikimedia Commons)

One of the projects approved by Jarkiholi was the Gatti Basavanna Dam on the Markandeya River in his constituency. The major irrigation department initially estimated the cost at 969 crore, while the revised estimated cost was around 300 crore. Similarly, the Ammajeshwari lift irrigation project was estimated to cost no more than 80 crore, but the department had estimated it at 747 crore during the BJP rule, said officials. Due to the substantial discrepancies in the estimated costs, the government decided to halt the projects, they added.

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An official from the project section of the irrigation department, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that the section simply drafted the projects according to the instructions given by higher authorities.

Even though both Jarkiholi and irrigation minister DK Shivakumar have a history of political rivalry that led to the former leaving the party, officials said that the projects approved by Jarkiholi were halted due to suspected corruption.

“The Congress government halted the irrigation and civil works projects that were allotted during the Bommai government, not out of revenge or enmity, but due to suspected significant corruption,” explained officials.

Belagavi district BJP (Rural) president, former MLA Sanjay Patil described halting the last six months projects as politically motivated and made with an enmity. All the projects carried out in BJP government were fair and transportation. There was no hide and seek in the administration. Let the Congress government can investigate from any agency if there were irregularities.

The Belagavi district’s major irrigation and public works department, which provided a comprehensive ground report on the projects to higher authorities in Bengaluru, has recommended cancelling the Gatti Basavanna Dam project due to unsuitable soil conditions for reservoir construction.

The dam project, located just 3 kilometers from Gokak town on the Markandeya River. If constructed, it would result in approximately 50% of Gokak town, with a population of around one lakh, and a significant portion of irrigated land in Gokak and Mudalagi taluks being submerged, the report said.

70-year-old Parappa Angadi, a resident of a lower-level area near the old Kodasalli bridge in Gokak town, shared that flooding in his locality during the rainy season is a common occurrence.

Not only during rainfall, but the area also gets submerged when excess water is released into the Ghataprabha River from the Hidkal Reservoir in Hukkeri taluk of Belagavi district. “If the dam is constructed, not only our locality but the entire Gokak town will disappear from the geographical map,” Angadi said.

Jarkiholi, who had approved the irrigation projects has been elected for the seventh consecutive term as the representative of the Gokak constituency, previously held the position of irrigation minister in the Basavaraj Bommai government.

He played a key role in toppling the JD(S)-Congress coalition government and establishing the BJP government.

Even after resigning from the ministry, his influence within the government remained unchanged.

According to people familiar with the matter, the party high command instructed Bommai to approve all the projects proposed by Jarkiholi.

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