The wall of a dam project in Bihar collapsed on Tuesday during a trial run, hours before its inauguration.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was scheduled to inaugurate the Rs389.31-crore Gateshwar Panth Canal Project at Bateshwarsthan near Kahalgaon town in Bhagalpur district, aimed at providing irrigation facilities in the state and neighbouring Jharkhand.
The wall of the canal collapsed when water from the Ganga forcefully hit it after the pump was switched on for a trial run. The water gushed into Kahalgaon and inundated areas in NTPC township as well some civil areas including residence of Kahalgaon civil judge and sub-judge.
"The proposed programme of the chief minister at Bhagalpur on Wednesday has been cancelled due to technical reasons," an official statement said at Patna on Tuesday.
"The dam broke due to release of water in full capacity. The incident has not caused any damage to the newly constructed part of the project," Union Minister of Water Resources Lallan Singh said.
Advertisements had appeared in newspapers on Wednesday about the inauguration of the project by the CM, but in the event these proved ironic.
Principal secretary of water resources department Arun Kumar Singh along with Bhagalpur DM and SP were on the spot to supervise measures for draining out water from NTPC township and some civil areas of Kahalgaon, around 3 km from the project site.
"Sandbags are being put to check the flow of water," Arun Singh told reporters.
The dam is a joint scheme of Bihar and Jharkhand. Under it, 18,620 hectares of land in Bhagalpur would get irrigation while 4,038 hectares in Godda district of Jharkhand would be irrigated, a government brochure on the project said.
The Planning Commission had originally approved the project in 1977 at an estimated cost of Rs13.88 crore. The first administrative approval to the project came 2008 involving a cost of Rs389.31 crore, the brochure said.
Rashtriya Janata Dal workers burnt an effigy of Kumar and Lallan in Bhagalpur alleging corruption in construction of the project.