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, the CAG said in a report tabled in Parliament on Friday.

This is despite the incumbent government’s much-wanted focus on improving irrigation facilities in the country.

All 16 major water resource development and irrigation projects undertaken under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) in February 2008 “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 government auditor said.

Out of the 16 projects, 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.

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.

Escalating cost

Pulling up the Ministry of Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation for the inordinate delays, the CAG said the initially estimated cost of the five projects was ₹3,530 crore, which has now escalated by a whopping 2,341 per cent to ₹86,172 crore. So far, an expenditure of ₹13,299 crore has already been incurred on these projects.

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.

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.