MUMBAI: The Comptroller and General (CAG) has rapped the Zilla Parishads in Maharashtra for taking up minor irrigation works without preparing any long-term district wise masterplans, resulting in significant time and cost overrun.
The CAG report on local bodies that was tabled in the state Legislative Assembly on the last day of monsoon session, audited nine of the 33 zilla parishads (ZP) where 3,623 minor irrigation works of irrigating 101 hectare of land valuing Rs 60.85 crore have been completed and irrigation potential of 34,122 hectare has been created. A total of 1,069 minor irrigation works valuing Rs 104.38 crore with projected irrigation potential of 12260.19 hectare was in progress as of March 2014.
Of the 4,692 completed and ongoing minor irrigation works in the nine ZPs, 449 works were selected for audit. Zilla parishads did not follow the Maharashtra Minor Irrigation Manual of 1983 which stipulates preparation of a district wise masterplan for minor irrigation works, including exhaustive list of works to be undertaken for the next 15 years, the report stated.
The audit observed that in absence of any masterplan, the nine ZPs selected minor irrigation works on basis of demands received from public representatives and gram panchayats. CAG also faulted the financial management of minor irrigation works, like failure to place demand for funds, unfruitful expenditure, diversion of funds and excess expenditure over budget.
The 449 minor irrigation works were sanctioned at a total cost of Rs 85.80 crore and were scheduled to be completed between January 1995 and March 2016. The audit observed that of the 449 works, 389 with total sanctioned cost of Rs 65.07 crore were completed at a total cost of Rs 61 crore between March 1998 and March 2014. And out of 389 completed works, 164 registered delay upto 108 months and a cost overrun of Rs 72 lakh.
The remaining 60 works with sanctioned cost of Rs 20.73 crore were incomplete as of March 2014. There was a time overrun upto 234 months and a cost overrun of Rs 70 lakh in 47 works. The report also held the zilla parishads guilty of non-compliance of contract conditions and making idle investment on incomplete works. Similarly, there was delay in termination of work due to land disputes and violation of established quality control procedures.
The report also highlighted poor implementation of the Jawahar Wells scheme. Of 33,914 targeted wells, only 19,669 (58 per cent) were constructed till July last year. There was unfruitful expenditure of over Rs 35.27 lakh on 8,623 incomplete wells. There was no recovery of advance payment of Rs 301 lakh given to 3,019 beneficiaries as no construction of wells started till July 2014. There was expenditure of Rs 35 lakh on construction of 670 wells which was subsequently cancelled.
Audit scrutiny revealed that in Akola, Amravati, Chandrapur and Sangli zilla parishads, the irrigation potential utilised against the irrigation potential created was drastically low and ranged between six and 19 per cent during 2009-2014. Zilla parishads should prepare long term comprehensive plans for minor irrigation works underlining clearly the targets of irrigation potential envisaged to be created, the benefits expected to accrue to the beneficiaries in terms of better water availability and increased crop yield, it said.
Similarly, in order to bridge gap between irrigation potential created and utilised, ZPs should prioritise projects which are long pending for completion and re-establish the irrigation potential of old minor irrigation works through a dedicated repair and maintenance management system.