BHUBANESWAR: With large number of irrigation projects in limbo due to lack of political will and administrative inertia, a high level committee of the State Government on Tuesday decided to take tough action against project opponents.
“It has also been decided to initiate criminal proceedings against those who are obstructing project work under some other plea,” official sources said after the meeting of the committee headed by Chief Secretary GC Pati.
The Chief Secretary directed the departments concerned to follow the principles of right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition for projects.
Replying to media queries, Water Resources Principal Secretary PK Jena said as per orders of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, a high level committee was formed to review progress of the projects and suggest measures for expediting work.
The committee reviewed irrigation projects like Ret, Rukura, Telengiri, Chheligarah, Manjore, Deo and Hadua. Other major irrigation projects like Lower Skutel, Indravati and Subarnarekha were also reviewed.
As land acquisition and compensation have emerged as major issues on the way of project implementation, the meeting decided to revisit the compensation as per the land acquisition ordinance of the Centre.
The recommendations of the committee will be put before the Government for consideration, Jena said.
The State Government has been receiving flak from different quarters, including the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), for its failure to achieve its irrigation target year after year.
The Subarnarekha irrigation project, which started in 1996-97, was scheduled to finish by 2001-02 with an estimated cost of Rs 1,013 crore. The project cost has escalated to Rs 5,629 crore due to time overrun. However, the project is yet to be over even after 18 years of its launching. Besides, the land acquisition process has also not been completed.
Similarly, the Lower Indra irrigation project took off in 1999-00 with an estimated cost of Rs 211 crore. The project was supposed to be over by 2003-04. Meanwhile, the project cost has been revised to Rs 1,624.49 crore which is 767 per cent higher than the initial cost. Already Rs 1,218 crore has been spent on the project, but no irrigation potential has been created.
Similar is the fate of Lower Suktel, Ret, Telengiri, Rukura, Kanpur and Anandapur barrage projects.