UDALGURI, July 14 - The people of Assam used their conscience, defeated the 15-year-old Congress government and allowed the BJP-led alliance to rule the State. The government after its formation started the reformation process in an impressive manner. However, the people of Udalguri region, who are mostly farmers have not seen any change in the Dhansiri Irrigation Project, one of the major irrigation projects of Assam in the last 40 years.
The newly-formed Greater Udalguri Conscious Citizens� Forum (GUCCF) in a press release expressed this concern and alleged that the Dhansiri Irrigation Project, labelled as one of the major irrigation projects of the State, has turned into a white elephant due to the faulty action plans, corruption and lack of awareness among the farmers who would have been the actual beneficiaries of the project.
A press release by the forum signed by its president Prafulla Kumar Basumatary and Dalim Bayan, president and secretary respectively also expressed concern over the indifferent attitude of the new Irrigation Minister Ranjit Dutta during his recent visit to Bhairabkunda to take stock of the project works.
Later, talking to this correspondent, Dalim Bayan said that they bit their nails after the version of the new Irrigation Minister who told the delegation of the forum that he was not aware of the irregularities and scams in the irrigation project which took place during the Congress rule. He, however, reiterated that he would not allow any form of corruption during his tenure. The secretary of the forum further said people hoped that the new government would not spare anyone indulging in corruption and probe would be initiated to unearth all such scams. But the Irrigation minister did not hint at conducting any probe into irregularities in the Dhansiri irrigation project.
The Greater Udalguri Conscious Citizens� Forum had also intimated the Irrigation Minister on the present health of the irrigation project through a memorandum on June 24 during the minister�s visit to Bhairabkunda, where the irrigation site is located. In the memorandum it was stated that the Dhansiri irrigation project got under way in 1974-75 with a budget of Rs 15.83 crore along the Indo-Bhutan border with an objective to irrigate 12,000 hectares of cultivable land. But the project has not been completed till date even though the budget was enhanced to Rs 575 crore.
�There is a nexus among the officials concerned, employees and contractors of the project and due to their utter negligence and disinterest, the project was suffering,� the memorandum had alleged and it had demanded proper steps to unearth all such obstructions in the completion of the project.
The memorandum ruled out any form of disturbance in completing the irrigation project as alleged by a section of officers and employees of the project. It questioned as to how some officers and employees were working in the project without any transfer for ages. It also wanted to know whether the officials concerned of the project filed any FIR in the police station regarding disturbances from anti-social elements.
The memorandum also alleged that the last tender of Dhansiri irrigation project was issued in 2014. But there were instances of some works being carried out without inviting any tender just after the Assembly elections by the executive engineers concerned by allotting works to some selected contractors. The organisation, therefore, demanded a high-level probe into the issue at the earliest.
It is to be noted that the Dhansiri irrigation project got under way in 1974-75 but till date it has not been able to serve the purpose of the farmers due to unabated corruption since its inception. The public here alleges that the project has become a hen laying golden eggs for a section of officers, contractors and employees. A farmer of the region expressed his anguish by saying that every time when a new government is formed, the new Irrigation Minister visits the spot with a lot of assurances. This time too, the new Irrigation Minister Ranjit Dutta assured to complete the project by 2017 which seemed to be a farce to the villagers. He hoped that the Chief Minister himself will take stock of the development works and take stern action against the erring authority for the greater interest of the poor farmers.
Meanwhile, the United Dhansiri-Jampani Bundh Committee, Bandarguri has decided to approach the Union Government as well as the Chief Minister of Assam with a demand to conduct a CBI probe to bring a permanent solution to the implementation of the project. Earlier, the committee had requested the Standing Committee on Water Resources under the Lok Sabha Secretariat way back on November 10, 2011 with a plea to complete the irrigation project on time.