CAG finds non-utilisation of funds in Odisha irrigation projects; Oppositionn parties demand action

Senior congressman and MLA Suresh Routray said the government must punish those responsible for “non-use of funds and delay in project execution”

Senior congressman and MLA Suresh Routray said the government must punish those responsible for “non-use of funds and delay in project execution”

When the Auditor General and Auditor General of India (CAG) found that the Odisha government could not spend more than £ 842 million in central funding for the irrigation sector between 2014 and 2020, the Opposition Congress and the BJP demanded action against officials responsible for such “inefficiencies”.

Senior congressman and MLA Suresh Routray said the government must punish those responsible for “non-use of funds and delay in project completion”.

“The government has taken action against corrupt and inefficient officials. Now it must fire those responsible for the return of funds and delays in projects,” Routray said.

BJP Kisan Morcha’s president and former MLA Pradip Purohit also slammed the “inefficient officials and engineers” for not using funds.

“This is an anti-peasant government and it has no such efforts to provide irrigation facilities for agriculture,” he said.

The report on the state’s results in terms of surface irrigation was presented in the parish on Friday.

The auditor also included 24 irrigation projects, which were completed or partially completed from January 2011 to March 2017.

CAG discovered several shortcomings in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the projects.

Although the state government had initiated various irrigation projects at a considerable cost to provide adequate water supply for agriculture, it was noticed, however, that “the goal was not met and this deprives the farmers of irrigation facilities”, CAG said in its Report.

During the period (2014-19) covered by this efficiency audit, CAG audited five major irrigation projects, nine mega-lift points (MLPs) and 10 smaller irrigation projects for which a total of INR 12 742.11 billion had been incurred up to March 2020.

In addition to nine MLPs, project costs escalated in the “range between 182 and 4,596% due to work delays”, it pointed out.

Despite escalation, only one major initiative, the Upper Indravati Irrigation facility, was completed, and the other four projects were in various stages of execution, according to the report.

The efficiency audit of surface irrigation revealed several shortcomings in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the projects.

“The financial management of the test-controlled projects was ruined due to the transfer of funds, which resulted in projects not being completed …”, it said.

The auditor said that there were also cases of loss of central aid, parking of funds without use, failure to realize government revenue, failure to adjust advances and unauthorized payment of taxes.

The projects were found “deficiencies in the preparation and implementation of DPR and incorrect calculation of the cost-benefit ratio (BCR)”.

“These led to changes in the design and scope of the work and revision of cost estimates that affected the timetable for the implementation of the projects,” it said.

Similarly, despite an expenditure of INR 12 742.11 crore in all the test-controlled projects, the irrigation potential achieved was 1 22 418 hectares compared to the proposed IP of 5 02 842 hectares, which represented only 24% of the planned potential, mentioned the report.

Odisha Water Resources Minister Raghunandan Das said the lack of completion and non-achievement of irrigation potential was largely due to problems with the environment and deforestation.

CAG said, however, that the delay was due to “inadequate DPRs, inadequate surveys and investigations, inadequate design in the implementation of the projects and insufficient access to water in the canals”.

The auditor has also made some recommendations to the water resources department to improve the financial and administrative management.

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