BHUBANESWAR: With irrigation covering less than 35 per cent of the cultivable area in 125 of 314 blocks, the State Government has once again come for a rap from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for poor planning and utilisation of funds in management of water resources.
The State Government had targeted to irrigate 1,65,126 hectares (ha) of land during 2009-14 under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP). But, it could provide irrigation to 66,160 ha (40 per cent of the target) during the period.
The achievement in 2012-13 was only 11 per cent while 25 per cent of the target was achieved during 2011-12.
The performance audit conducted by the CAG during the last five financial years showed that despite being pointed out earlier, projects suffered time and cost overrun due to delay in acquisition of land, finalisation of drawing and design and clearance of site, stated the audit report on economic sector for the period ended March 2014.
“As eight projects taken up under AIBP could not be completed due to improper planning, it has not only led to cost overrun from ` 2,700.89 crore to ` 12,864.11 crore (476 per cent increase) but also time overrun thereby depriving the people of irrigation benefit,” the audit report said.
The Subarnarekha irrigation project, which was started in 1996-97, was scheduled to be completed by 2001-02 with an estimated project cost of ` 1013 crore. While the project cost has escalated to ` 5,629 crore (555 per cent), irrigation potential has been created for 18,381 ha as against the target of 1,09,726 ha. As of now, ` 2,431.15 crore has been spent on the project.
Similarly, the Lower Indra irrigation project took off in 1999-00 with an estimated project cost of `211 crore. The project was supposed to be over by 2003-04. Meanwhile, the project cost has been revised to `1,624.49 crore which is 767 per cent higher than the initial project cost. Already ` 1,218 crore has been spent on the project, but no irrigation potential has been created.
Similar is the fate of Lower Suktel irrigation project. The project, started in 1999 with an estimated cost of `216 crore, is yet to take off despite ` 428 crore being spent on it.
The other irrigation projects, which remained incomplete for over a decade, include Ret, Telengiri, Rukura, Kanpur and Anandapur barrage.
With escalating expenditure on projects, proportion of benefits likely to accrue decline with some projects running the risk of becoming unviable, it said adding, instances of calculation of Benefit Cost Ratios (BCRs) not holding good were also noticed.