BHUBANESWAR: Having already missed the target to create irrigation potential for at least 35 per cent of arable land in every block, the State Government continues to falter on check dam construction.
Setting a target to construct 15,000 check dams (CDs) during 2010-15, the State Government could complete 5,962 CDs by end of March 2015. Review of records in eight minor irrigation (MI) divisions revealed that 1,409 out of 2,825 check dams were without shutters.
These 1,409 check dams served no purpose as water could not be stored and Rs 166.21 crore spent on the construction of the CDs was unfruitful. What is galling is that the Executive Engineers who were responsible for the lapse got off unpunished.
The State launched the programme in 2010-11 with the objective to conserve a part of the surface water flowing down to sea to meet the drinking water requirement of nearby villages and provide incidental irrigation to crops in the adjacent areas. Besides, it will recharge the ground water. The Government has given priority to those blocks where the irrigation coverage is less than 35 per cent.
The Government had approved 8,090 CDs with an estimated cost of Rs 1,318.12 crore out of which Rs 971.53 crore was provided in the Budget. The minor irrigation wing of the Water Resources department completed 5,962 CDs with an expenditure of Rs 884.88 crore and surrendered Rs 86.65 crore as on March 2015.
As per the Government guideline, pani panchayats (water users’ association) were to be formed before selection of site for the check dams and on completion, the CDs would be handed over to the user bodies for management. An audit of accounts of the eight MI divisions by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) revealed that pani panchayats were not formed for 2,825 CDs despite proposals from local people for requisite registration.
It was stipulated in the guidelines that tendering process and issue of work order should be over within a month and the construction completed within a month of receiving the work order.
The audit report said 659 works were completed within a year and 2166 in nine subsequent years. While 118 proposals were dropped, works on 51 dams have not started.
Although the work progress was to be monitored twice in a year by the State-level monitoring committee headed by Chief Secretary, the committee has met only once during the last 10 years.