The NDA government’s record in implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet Clean Ganga project has been very poor, and the national mission has been able to spend less than a quarter of the funds earmarked for the project in the last two financial years, said a report tabled by the CAG on Tuesday.

“Out of ₹6,705 crore earmarked during 2015-16 and 2016-17, NMCG [National Mission for Clean Ganga] could spend only ₹1,665.41 crore, less than a quarter of the expected year-wise release of funds,” the CAG report said.

The CAG audited a total of 87 projects related to the Rejuvenation of River Ganga, out of which 50 were sanctioned after the current government took over in 2014. The auditor also found that funds amounting to ₹2,133.76 crore were lying with NMCG, ₹422.13 crore with State programme management groups and ₹59.28 crore with executing agencies at the end of the previous financial year.

“The low utilisation of funds indicate poor implementation of the programme,” the CAG said. CAG said the NMCG’s claim that the unspent balance could be carried forward was untenable as the unspent funds continued to rise during 2014-17.

No action plan

Not having an action plan also led to non-utilisation of any amount from the corpus of ₹198.14 crore available in the Clean Ganga Fund – created through voluntary donations by citizens and non-resident Indians.

It also pulled up the mission for not finalising a long-term action plans even after more than six-and-a-half years of signing with the consortium of Indian Institute of Technology. It was also surprised to see that it could not formulate a river basin management plan even though the National Ganga River Basin Authority notification was issued more than eight years ago.

Out of total funds of ₹951.11 crore released to the river-basin States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakahnd, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal for the construction of household toilets to eradicate open defecation, only ₹490.15 crore had been utilised till March 31 this year.

“There were deficiencies in planning and laxity in spending available funds by the State governments as targets set for constriction household toilets and making villages open defecation free were not achieved,” CAG observed. The auditor also uncovered cases of excess construction of toilets and multiple allotments of funds to same beneficiaries in many places.

Out of 46 sewage treatment plants, interception and diversion projects costing ₹5,111.36 crore, there were delays in 26 projects costing ₹2,710.14 crore due to the delay in the execution of projects, non-availability of land and slow progress of work by contractors.