CAG report finds irregularities in State's irrigation projects

CAG report finds irregularities in State's irrigation projects

Project-level monitoring committees not constituted

 The country’s top audit body, which scanned four of the nine  projects in the State funded by Union Ministry of Water Resources - Varahi, Upper Krishna Project (UKP) stage I (Phase III) and UKP stage II and Karanja - has found misuse of funds through favouring contractors, diversion of grants, and avoidable expenditure.

Undue benefit

In UKP stage II, undue benefit was given to contractors by not collecting Rs 3.60 crore penalty for delay in supply of pumps. Misuse of funds to the tune of Rs 1.39 crore was reported in 10 cases in  Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Limited (KBJNL), a company formed by the Karnataka Government to implement the UKP project. A departmental inquiry has been initiated in 2006.

In Karanja and UKP Stage-II project, around Rs eight crore was diverted for payment of electricity bills and building maintenance.  Apart from this, over Rs 14 crore was spent unnecessarily by defective estimation, poor design and specification of various works in UKP II stage.

While pulling up the State for tardy progress in execution of the irrigation project, the CAG said the Karnataka government has not constituted project- level as well as state-level monitoring committees to keep a tab on the implementation projects.

The Union Ministry had sanctioned nine irrigation projects, both major and medium, under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) to Karnataka totalling to Rs 4,845 crore (Rs 3,110 crore from the Centre and Rs 1,738 crore from the state) during 1996-2008.

Of the nine projects taken up till 2006-07, only one project-Maskinala-was completed and none of the audited four projects were completed as of March 2008.

The time overrun ranged from three years to nine years, and the cost ranged from Rs 148 crore to Rs 810 crore for all the projects.

Interestingly, against the targeted irrigation potential of 6.5 lakh hectares as of March 2008, the facility was provided to  5.17 lakh hectares under these projects, said the report.

The reasons attributed by implementing agencies for shortage of creation of irrigation potential were slow progress of work due to delay in land acquisition, rehabilitation problems, non-availability of declared command area in some projects, and non-clearance of bottlenecks in main canals and distributaries.