Cost of ongoing irrigation projects in Maharashtra witnessed a staggering 428 per cent cost escalation, claims a Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report presented to the state legislature Saturday.
Coming down heavily on the Maharashtra government and its Irrigation Development Corporations (IDCs), the CAG report has blamed non-compliance of Governor’s directives that disallowed taking up of new irrigation projects in areas with irrigation backlog for the irrigation mess. The CAG has also highlighted irregularities in granting administrative (AA) and revised administrative approvals (RAA) to projects, discrepancies in tender allocation, changes to dam designs, delays in land acquisition and resettlement of the project affected.
Out of the 601 ongoing projects, the CAG has observed that cost overruns totalling a staggering Rs 47,427 crore have been witnessed in 363 projects, which accounts of 60 per cent of all ongoing projects. About 302 projects have been ongoing for over 15 years, the report points out, blaming thin-spreading of funds by the Water Resources Department for it.
Observing that the WRD is now saddled with an estimated balance of Rs 82,609 crore for completion of ongoing projects, the report points out that it’s nine times the capital grant allocated to WRD in 2012-13.
The CAG has also rapped the government for widespread irregularities in allotment of the work for the Kondhane minor irrigation project in Konkan and Hetwane irrigation projects in Raigad. Illegalities in these projects have been under the scanner ever since the debate on the multi-crore irrigation scam first broke out in 2012. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had to quit in the wake of allegations raised against him that year before being reinducted in the government a few months later.
Amid all irregularities, the report says, only 67 per cent of the irrigation potential created has been put to use.