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Modi government’s promises of boosting farm sector and doubling farm income aside, the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) revealed that sixteen major multi-purpose water projects, taken up on an expeditious basis about a decade ago, are nowhere near completion, with no work being undertaken in as many as 11 projects.

Out of the 16 projects, undertaken under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) in February 2008, only five projects with estimated irrigation potential of 25.10 lakh hectares were under implementation and even these projects suffer from 8 to 99 per cent shortfall in physical progress, the CAG said, according to a report on the website of SANDRP (South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People).

The remaining 11 projects with estimated irrigation potential of 10.48 lakh hectares are yet to commence and are at different stages of approval.

While the envisaged irrigation potential of the ongoing projects was 25.1 lakh hectares, what has been realised so far was just 5.36 lakh hectares, a mere 21 per cent, the CAG report said.

Similarly, though the projects were meant to generate 1,236.5 MW of electricity and supply 672.585 million cubic metre of drinking water, not even a drop of drinking water or a single unit of electricity was made available so far.

All 16 major water resource development and irrigation projects “were languishing due to various constraints and hurdles including land acquisition, inter-State coordination, financial constraints and issues relating to rehabilitation and re-settlement of affected population,” the CAG said.

The projects that the CAG reviewed were Indira Sagar Polavaram Project in Andhra Pradesh, Gosikhurd Irrigation Project in Maharashtra, Shahpur Khandi Dam Project in Punjab, Saryu Nahar Pariyojana in Uttar Pradesh and Teesta Barrage Project in West Bengal.

Pulling up the Ministry of Water Resources for the inordinate delays, the CAG said the initially estimated cost of the five projects was Rs 3,530 crore, which has now escalated by a whopping 2,341 per cent to Rs 86,172 crore. So far, an expenditure of Rs13,299 crore has already been incurred on these projects.

According to the national auditor, the tardy implementation and cost escalation was on account of management failures and deficiencies in terms of non-adherence to the provisions relating to survey and investigations that are essential ingredients for preparation of detailed project reports.

Similarly, administrative delays, poor contract management and lack of monitoring has led to cost escalation of more than Rs 49,800 crore in these national projects undertaken by the Central Govt, says the report.

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