Pointing out the “sub-optimal utilisation” of irrigation potential created in Gujarat, the country’s top most audit watch dog — the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) — said in a report tabled in the state legislature on Wednesday that a maximum of 19 per cent of 18.88 lakh hectares of Culturable Command Area (CCA) created for irrigation purposes is being used in any cropping season.
The water resources department administers 19 major, 70 medium and 836 minor irrigation projects with a total CCA of 18.88 lakh hectares. CCA created by this department — which falls under the Narmada Water Resources, Water Supply and Kalpsar department of the Gujarat government — is an area which can be irrigated from a scheme and is fit for cultivation.
“The utilisation of CCA in 2012-13 was only 3.48 lakh hectares for Rabi season, 2.12 lakh hectares for Kharif and 0.63 lakh hectares for hot season (summer crop). The utilisation of CCA in 2016-17 was 3.64 lakh hectares for Rabi season, 2.8 lakh hectares for Kharif season and 1.66 lakh hectares for hot season,” stated the auditor in its report on Economic Sector for the year ended March 31, 2018.
Pointing out that the maximum utilisation of the CCA during any season in 2012-13 was just 18 per cent and a tad higher at 19 per cent in 2016-17, CAG stated that it “indicated sub-optimal utilisation of irrigation potential created in the state as a whole”. The auditor also picked holes in the Extension, Renovation and Modernisation (ERM) works of the existing canal systems taken up by the department where it has spent Rs 2,122 crore between 2012-18.
The CAG test-checked 12 irrigation projects constructed between 1954 and 2005 by the department that is not only responsible for construction, operation and maintenance of major and minor irrigation projects in Gujarat, but is also in charge of optimal utilisation of water resources. Stating that ERM works were needed to minimise the gap between irrigation potential created and irrigation potential utilised as well as to take water to the tail-end of the canal network, CAG “observed that the department did not prepare any long-term plan for ERM works. Instead, it undertook works based on immediate needs for improvement of canals in a piece meal manner”.
The Kadana, Watrak, Mazam, Meshwo, Waidy, Dharoi, Kakrapar, Fathewadi, Kelia and Jhuj irrigation projects were among those test-checked by CAG. The auditor said that gap between the irrigation potential created in Gujarat and that utilised could not be bridged due to works not completed in time, absence of project-wise plans, lack of Detailed Project Reports or DPRs, improper planning of works, among others.
“It is worth mentioning that the four projects where DPRs were prepared the achievement was 141 per cent as on November 30, 2018 (1.96 lakh hectares CCA covered as against planned CCA of 1.39 lakh hectares. On the other hand, in the remaining eight projects where DPRs were not prepared, the achievement was only 72 per cent (0.53 lakh hectares CCA covered as against planned CCA of 0.74 lakh hectares),” the report said.