The Bihar government today disapproved of NTPC Ltd's contention that it had no role to play in the breach of a canal in Bhagalpur last week, saying the state-owned power major "did not fulfil technical commitments".
"In place of taking NOC from the department, NTPC had taken approval from the chief engineer of Bhagalpur on the basis of a drawing. And, even in this condition, it did not fulfil the technical commitments mentioned in the drawing of the underpass," Bihar Water Resources Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan told reporters.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was scheduled to inaugurate the Rs 389.31-crore Bateshwarsthan Ganga Pump Canal Project on September 20, aimed at providing irrigation facilities in the state and neighbouring Jharkhand.
The wall broke up after being forcefully hit by Ganga river waters when the pump was switched on for a trial run. Gushing waters entered Kahalgaon, about 3 km from the project site, and inundated areas in NTPC township.
NTPC had on September 21 dismissed as "baseless and far from reality" the allegation that an underpass constructed by it below the canal could have weakened it, leading to its breach.
In a statement, the company had said, "NTPC has to submit that the allegations so levelled against us are baseless and far from reality. We are a government of India, Maharatna company who is well aware of our reputation and our responsibilities. More so, when we have to take up any work in the public domain."
Citing a report of a joint inspection team of the state government and NTPC, the minister said many deficiencies have been found leading to uncontrolled seepage from the junction at the top of the underpass and the canal bed.
"The top slab of the culvert is to be provided with 100 mm thick PCC (1:2:4) over 5 inch bitumen felt over bitumen painting, with a view to prevent leakage through the junction. But, this component of work was not executed and this is the prime cause of breach of the canal. Still after closure of the canal, seepage is being observed through the ceiling," he said.
Lallan alleged that though NTPC officials were present in the joint inspection on September 24, and verbally agreed to the above findings, "they did not sign the inspection report".
He said a third-party investigation team would be constituted, including senior engineers of the road construction, rural works and minor water resources departments.
The minister said that the Chief Engineer of Bhagalpur has been directed to frame the estimate of remedial measures following the canal breach.
"Since, the original work of the underpass was constructed at your end (NTPC, Kahalgaon), as such any remedial measure cost therein will be chargeable to NTPC," he said, quoting a letter by Principal Secretary of Water Resources Department, Arun Kumar Singh, to NTPC Kahalgaon general manager.
The remedial measures would be completed in one month, and Kumar will inaugurate the Ganga pump canal irrigation project in Bhagalpur, Lallan added.