Despite promising irrigation to at least 35 per cent of the cultivable land in the state since it came to power 14 years ago, the Naveen Patnaik government has failed to provide assured irrigation in less than one-third of the total blocks of the state.
A compliance audit of water resources department for the year ending March 2013 by Comptroller and Auditor General has found that of 61.65 lakh hectare of cultivable land in 314 blocks, the department could achieve the goal in only 60 blocks till June 2013. The audit report which was laid in the State Assembly last evening revealed that 67 out of 95 blocks in western Orissa had not received the minimum 35 per cent irrigation facilities.
State government in 2005-06 decided to draw a masterplan for each district to provide at least 35 per cent irrigation in all the 314 blocks during the plan period from 2005-06 to 2009-10.
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But in districts like Angul, Bargarh, Balangir, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur and Subarnapur, there was no improvement in irrigation during the last seven years. Similarly, 45 out of 104 blocks in southern Orissa districts and 40 out of 115 blocks in central Orissa districts had not received minimum irrigation facilities.
Though the government in its reply to the CAG said efforts are being made to augment irrigation potential in the deficit blocks through major and minor irrigation projects, the audit found 458 minor irrigation projects were completely defunct as of March 2009. This led to loss of irrigation in 38,653 hectare ayacut area. The department spent Rs 528.79 crore during 2009-13 towards repair, renovation and restoration of the projects under various schemes, but the number of defunct minor irrigation projects rose to 524 with the state losing 43,665 hectare ayacut area till March 2013.
The government also failed to supply the minimum amount of water needed for citizens in 95 of the 105 civic bodies. As per State Water Policy 2007, the state has to provide adequate safe drinking water for human beings and livestock both in urban and rural areas. The CAG found that out of 105 Urban Local Bodies, in 95 ULBs supply of water was less than mandated level of 135 litres per person per day while 10 ULBs including Bhubaneswar and Cuttack Municipal Corporation drew water beyond their mandated level.
The CAG found that the government’s failure to follow Orissa Irrigation Act 1959 and Orissa Irrigation Rules 1961 led to non collection of water rate of Rs 9503.31 crore. The Irrigation Act 1959 amended in October 2010 and Rules stipulate conditions for ensuring proper system for supply of water and insist on proper mechanism for accurate levy of water rate and prompt collection. A private Power generation company was drawing water from Kolab river for generation of 37 MW power from April 2008, but the officials did not demand water rates from the company till October 2010.
Under the Orissa Irrigation Act 1959 and Rules 1961, water rate of Rs 60 per 1 lakh gallons is leviable for use of water for generation of power from the from the 5 multipurpose hydropower projects in the State. This was revised to 1 paise per Kilo Watt Hour of hydro power generation with effect from October 2010.
As per irrigation rule, an executive engineer is supposed to assess fees to be charged on the unit/quantity of water drawn or lifted and issue demand notice within the first week of every month. Rules further provided that the user would make payment within the same month. On default, an interest at 6 per cent per annum would be charged for the water drawn or lifted from irrigation source. Rate of interest was revised to two per cent compounded monthly with effect
A Company was permitted (May 2006) to use water for generation of 20 megawatt hydroelectric power for 30 years from the date of commercial operation on payment of water charges as per the rate fixed by the Government. The company started power generation from October 2009. Though water rate was paid by the company from September 2010, the same at the rate of Rs 60 per 1 lakh gallons from October 2009 to September 2010 amounting to Rs 29.63 crore was not paid. The executive engineer did not raise the arrears demand and 2 per cent compound interest per month from October 2010 onwards.
The CAG found that executive engineers of Earth Dam Division, Chitrakonda and Left Canal Division of Kusumukhunti did not raise demand amounting to Rs 735.20 crore for supply of water for power generation by Orissa Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC) till October 2010. Reasons for non-levy of water rate were not on record. It was after October 2010 that OHPC paid monthly demand for water rate.
As per provisions of the allocation order and agreement, industrial units had to pay water rate and also compensate for loss of power generation due to drawal of water from the reservoir. The executive engineers did not raise any demands for these losses though OHPC calculated the generation loss at Rs 10.11 crore for 2011-12 recoverable from 17 industrial units drawing water from different reservoirs. Besides these, Rs 20.65 crore of water dues were pending from NALCO and ` Rs 13.17 crore from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.