Up goes the cost of Upper Krishna

Down the drain

irrigation infrastructure This 1.5-km long aqua duct constructed across Dona river has 177 vents. DH photo

With an initial outlay of Rs 283.65 crore, the project has so far cost the Exchequer a staggering Rs 10,000 crore. That is not all. Another Rs one lakh crore is needed to realise the full potential of the Krishna river basin. There are instances of the project cost going up on account of failure to complete the projects within the stipulated timeframe.

The project has been proceeding at a snail’s pace since inception. Of the targeted command area of 8.43 lakh hectares, the project could provide irrigation to only 1.45 lakh hectares during 1964-1996. However, a sum of Rs 1398.88 crore was spent out of the budgetary allocation of Rs 1617.41 crore.

Lack of political will and a determined stand on the part of those in power are the principal reasons for the delay. Poor allotment of funds and manpower crunch coupled with frequent transfers of officials are also some of the causes.

“The situation would not have been so bad if the officials were not transferred for a block of five years and held responsible for specific tasks,” says former Water Resources minister H K Patil.

Piecemeal contracts

Corruption and piecemeal contracts, nexus between officials and contractors to siphon off government funds and poor project management have proved the bane for the UKP.
While projects under

‘A’ scheme are still to be completed, the plans of those under ‘B’ scheme are yet to be formulated.

“It was precisely because of this reason that Andhra got 250 tmc ft more Krishna water on the basis of water utilisation capacity,” pointed out Hanumagouda Belaguraki, an irrigation activist.

The irrigation potential of Krishna had to be harvested through 55 projects so as to water 15.27 lakh hectares. It would have cost Rs 10,534.37 crore if all the ‘A’ scheme projects were completed before 2000 in terms of the Bachawat award.

The cost escalated as successive governments neglected implementation of the UKP, said Bhaskar Rao Mudabula of Bharat Kisan Sangha.

Water availability

The Andhra Pradesh government took up projects at a cost of Rs 50,000 crore even before the Krishna Tribunal pronounced its award.

However, the present water availability to AP suffices only for the projects worth Rs 30,000 crore and the money spent on the rest goes down the drains. But, it is the reverse case in Karnataka - the State has water but no projects.

The irrigation activists of the region feel that the government should accord priority to projects with long-term impact instead of spending money on populist programmes.

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