Kalasa-Banduri: Govt may borrow funds

Kalasa-Banduri: Govt may borrow funds

The state government may have to go for off-budget borrowings to fund the Kalasa-Banduri project, following the award of the Mahadayi Tribunal.

The cost of the project for diverting water from Mahadayi basin to Malaprabha through two canals - Kalasa and Banduri – has escalated since it was first sanctioned. In 2008, the project was estimated to cost Rs 93 cr, which as per the revised estimates, has gone up beyond Rs 800 cr.

The two budgets presented for the financial year 2018-19 - one by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and another by his predecessor Siddaramaiah - has not allotted any funds for the project. The total allocation for Water Resources department is Rs 18,142 crore. However, there is no mention of allocation of funds for the project in the budget speech.

According to sources in the secretariat, Rs 200 crore has been so far set aside for the project since 2008, the highest being during Siddaramaiah regime (Rs 81 crore), followed by B S Yeddyurappa (Rs 69 crore) and D V Sadananda Gowda (Rs 30 crore). In his initial comments soon after the Tribunal pronounced its final award, Kumaraswamy remained non-committal on expediting the project. The coalition government is already under severe financial pressure to fund various populist programmes The government will be left with no option but to go for off-budget borrowings to fund the project. The Cauvery Niravari Nigam, which is executing the project, will be empowered to borrow money from various lending agencies.

When contacted, Water Resources principal secretary Rakesh Singh said the budget would not show the break-up of project-wise funding of projects. “It is for the Cauvery Niravari Nigam to decide on its next step of action. We will have a comprehensive discussion after studying the Tribunal order in detail,” Singh said.

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