Years after it was conceived, the government will finally launch the Rs36.37 billion Sunkoshi Marine Diversion Multipurpose Project in the next fiscal year, beginning mid-July. The mega project will irrigate the perennially parched farmlands in the central Tarai region and produce electricity.
The five-year project, once completed, will provide round-the-year irrigation facility to five drought-prone districts—Rautahat, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi and Bara. Insufficient rainfalls have become a recurrent problem in these Tarai districts for a long time. The problem has been further compounded by massive outflow of youths to foreign lands, creating shortage of labourers to carry out agricultural activities, according to experts.
In April 2016, the government had planned to launch a scheme, ‘Prosperous Tarai-Madhes Irrigation Special Programme’, to provide water to parched farmlands in eight drought-prone districts in central and eastern Tarai.
The five-year Rs4.44-billion programme designed for Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara and Parsa districts, however, was never rolled out.
Sanjay Sharma, secretary at the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, recently told the parliamentary Finance Committee that they have targeted to launch the project by the beginning of the next fiscal year.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who recently visited Garuda Municipality in Rautahat district, told a mass assembly that the detailed project report of the scheme is at its final stage.
“The farmers in the central Tarai districts will get sufficient amount of water to irrigate their farmlands,” PM Oli said. “The project will be a huge relief for the farmers suffering from shortage of water for a long time.”
The project envisages diverting water from the Sunkoshi River to the Bagmati River to irrigate 122,000 hectares of farmland in five central Tarai districts.
As per the preliminary report, water will be redirected at Paurai in Chandrapur Municipality-1 in Rautahat via the Marin River in Sindhuli.
The multipurpose project will draw 77 cusecs of water from the Sunkoshi by constructing a 180-metre-long dam.
The water from the Sunkoshi will first be diverted to the Marin River in Sindhuli through a 13.1-km-long and 7-metre-wide tunnel before being channelled into the Bagmati River.
The water will then be collected at a barrage and distributed to irrigate fields. A powerhouse will be built on the Marin River to generate 40.8 MW of electricity.
The flow rate in the Bagmati River is just 5-6 cusecs.
Low water flows in the Bagmati River have caused severe difficulties for farmers in Rautahat and Sarlahi districts to irrigate their fields. In the dry season, irrigation facilities are not available.
If water can be drawn from the Sunkoshi, there won’t be irrigation problems at any time of the year, the project officials said.
The project aims to supply 48 cusecs to farmers in Rautahat and 64 cusecs to farmers in Sarlahi.
Agriculture, the major contributor to Nepal’s economy, is mainly rain-fed. Heavy reliance on rain water and limited irrigation facilities have led to lowered outputs that adversely affect the country’s economy.
Hari Narayan Yadav, divisional engineer of the project, said that the detailed project report would be completed by mid-April. “The funding modality has not yet been decided. Funds may come from donor agencies or the government.”
The kathmandu Post