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Centre gives clearance for Pench project

By Staff
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Bhopal, Feb 23 (UNI) The Centre has given clearance for the Rs 583.40 crore Pench diversion project in Madhya Pradesh for providing water for the 500 megawatt thermal plant and irrigating 63,777 hectare area in Chhindwara and Seoni districts, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced in the Assembly today.

Making a Suo Motu statement after the question hour, Mr Chouhan said the dam on the Pench river would be constructed near Machagora village in Chourai block of Chhindwara district and it was targetted to be completed in six years.

The project would affect as many as 31 villages and fully submerge six villages. While a total of 5607 hectare area would come under submergence, no forest land would be affected, he said.

The Water Resources Ministry's high-level advisory committee approved the project yesterday. This was the first major project in the state approved by the Centre since 2000, he added.

The Ministry's technical advisory committee had earlier given its approval for the Rs 184.03 crore project in 1988. But due to limited financial resources of the state government, work on it could not be started. Again in 2004, renewed efforts were made for its investment clearance by the Planning Commission, the Chief Minister said.

Mr Chouhan expressed his gratitude to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former WR Minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi for their cooperation in getting the project cleared.

The Chief Minister assured that adequate provision would be made under the state's policy for the rehabilitation of the project affected people.

It will provide 61.68 million cubic metre water annually to the 500 megawatt thermal plant in Chhindwara district and 7.40 mcm water will be used for drinking purpose. As the water level in the command area would go up, 7141 hectare area could be irrigated through tubewells, he added.

Leader of the opposition Jamuna Devi pleaded for proper rehabilitation of the affected, particularly the tribals, keeping in view the state's poor track record on this count. Mr Vajpayee had kept pending the proposal for years, but was now being showered praises, she added.

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