After assuming power, irrigation has been one of the mainstay sectors for Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. For this, the CM has kept the portfolio of water resources with him. And the government led by him has rolled out a whopping over 2,800 projects, including major, medium, minor and lift. An ambitious target has been also set up.
Despite all the ingredients like light, camera and action, the show is not a box office hit when one looks at the latest CAG's performance audit of surface irrigation report released on Thursday. The report says all is not well.
As per the CAG report 'Performance Audit on Surface Irrigation' for the year ended on March 2020, the budget provision for surface irrigation during the period 2014-15 to 2019-20 was Rs 30,366.51 crore, and the utilisation stands high at Rs25,153.35 crore.
It says Performance Audit was carried out on 24 Major/Minor irrigation and Mega Lift Projects which were completed/partly completed between January 2011 and March 2017. The big story starts from here.
The CAG Analysis
The main objective of the State Government in allocating higher amount and utilising them in a big has been to increase the irrigation potential. Because a rise in irrigation potential will then lead to higher irrigation utilisation, which in turn will lead to an increase in the cropping intensity.
As per the CAG report, the drag lies in the root, which means perking up the irrigation potential.
Consider the following.
- In spite of incurring expenditure of Rs12,742.11crore in all of the test checked projects, the Irrigation Potential (IP) achieved was 1.22 Lakh ha as against the proposed IP of 5.028 lakh ha
- The report, therefore, says that the State could create only 24 per cent of the targeted irrigation potential.
Why Lower Realisation?
The CAG has the following answer.
- Implementation of projects was tardy.
- There is a delay in completion of projects ranging from 13- 43 years.
- Rengali Right Bank Canal /Rengali Left Bank Canal project is on in Odisha for 43 years.
- This undue delay attributed to a shortfall in land acquisition, inability to obtain statutory clearances of forest land in advance, changes in design and scope of work, etc.
- The impact of the delays has led to cost overruns of projects.
- There was increase in the cost of the major irrigation projects between 182 and 4,596 per cent.
- Despite escalation, only one major project (Upper Indravati Irrigation Project- extension) had been completed and other four major projects were in different stages of progress for which further cost escalation could not be ruled out.
- The report observed that though the right extension canal of UIIP had been completed, no irrigation was provided due to defective construction/alignment of right main canal.
- Joint physical inspection of UIIP right extension canal by CAG found that water was not coming to the right extension canal at all due to excavation of right main canal above bed level.
- The report says due to non- supply of water in the canal system for more than five years, the canals were filled up with earth and damaged in a number of places. There were breaches in the embankment in many places, lining was damaged severely and canal bed was filled with mud and trees
Irrigation Picture of Odisha
For utilising 95.54 BCM (65.68 BCM from own water resources and 29.86 BCM from water flowing from other states), the state of Odisha has taken up the following to create irrigation potential of 52.37 lakh ha against which, the report says, the state has claimed to have achieved irrigation potential of 38.15 lakh ha.
- 15 major irrigation projects (seven completed, eight ongoing);
- 50 medium irrigation projects (40 completed, 10 ongoing);
- 197 mega lift projects (nine completed, 188 ongoing) and
- 2,498 minor irrigation projects (2,340 completed, 158 ongoing)
As per the CAG, the Department of Water Resources (DoWR) fixed year-wise targets for creation of Irrigation Potential (IP) during 2014-19. It was seen that out of 1.34 lakh ha of creation of IP, the state could create only 0.63 lakh ha (47 per cent) as given in table below.
Flop Show And Flip Side
As per the report, since only paddy is cultivated without adoption of a multi-cropping pattern by the farmers in the project ayacuts, all the projects run the risk of economic unviability.
It says, "Though the extension of irrigation facility is of critical importance for the growth of the agricultural and farming sector and despite the release of substantial funds for completion of the projects, the projected irrigation potential (IP) could not be created to the benefit of farmers."