Odisha guzzles irrigation projects as cost overrun

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 13:

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has indicted the Odisha government for time and cost overrun in Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) projects in the state as it has escalated to the tune of Rs 3,157.97 crore amounting to nearly 500% increase in the project cost.

CAGThe tall claims of the state government on the irrigation facilities across the state have fallen flat as CAG, in its report, has exposed the discrepancies in the irrigation projects which was presented in the State Assembly by Finance minister Pradip Amat here on Thursday.

The state government had targeted to irrigate 1, 65, 126 hectare land from 2009-14 under the ‘Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme’. However, only 40% of the target has been achieved which stands at 66, 160 hectare land, the report said.

In 2011-12, 25% target was achieved and only a meagre 11% of the target was achieved during 2012-13, it said.

Performance Audit showed that despite being pointed out earlier, projects still suffered time and cost overrun due to delay in acquisition of land, finalisation of drawing and design and clearance of site, said CAG report on economic sector for the year ended March 2014.

The Subarnarekha irrigation project which started in 1996-97 was scheduled to finish by 2001-02 with an estimated project cost of Rs 1013 crore. With this delay, the project cost has escalated to Rs 5, 629 with an increase of 455% of the initial project cost. 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.

Financial implication by way of cost escalation and other deficiencies worked out to Rs 3,157.97 crore and as a result of delay in completion of projects, people of the state were deprived of assured irrigation facility to that extent, CAG said in its report.

As of now Rs 2500 crore has been spent on the above irrigation project and 18, 381 hectare (17%) land have been extended the irrigation facility. Though, it is supposed to irrigate 1, 09, 627 hectare land.

Similarly, the Lower Indra irrigation project took off in 1999-2000 with an estimated project cost of Rs 211 crore. The project was supposed to be over by 2013-14 but is yet to be completed. The revised project cost now stands at Rs 1624 crore which is 667% higher than the initial project cost, the report stated. Though, Rs 1218 crore has been spent on the project, the irrigation facilities have not reached the targeted population.

The fate of Lower Suktel irrigation project is no different from the other projects. The project started 14 years ago was scheduled to be completed by 2003-04 with an estimated cost of Rs 216 crore. But, the project is yet to take off despite Rs 428 crore being spent on it, the report pointed out.

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.

Extra expenditure on account of estimates deviating from SoR (Schedule of Rates), deficiencies in tendering process was noticed, while monitoring and internal control needed improvement, the CAG report said.

The Reth irrigation project with an initial project cost of Rs 86 crore has overrun to Rs 434 crore and is yet to be completed. The Telengiri irrigation project with an estimated project cost of Rs 106 crore has now reached Rs 474 crore. The Rukuda irrigation project cost has also escalated to Rs 256 crore from Rs 155 crore. Besides, the Anandpur barrage with an estimated cost of Rs 482 crore was slated to be operational by 2009-10.

However, the cost overrun has reached Rs 1603 in which only 9KM of the 13KM canal work has been completed. In addition to this, the Kanpur irrigation project with an estimated project cost of Rs 428 crore was scheduled to be completed by 2007-08.

The project cost now stands at Rs 1800 crore but the irrigation facilities are yet to reach people, the report highlighted.

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