Cost overrun of Rs 47,427 cr in Maharashtra irrigation projects: CAG

Written by PTI | Mumbai | Updated: Jun 15 2014, 03:46am hrs
Of the 601 ongoing irrigation projects in Maharashtra, there was a cost overrun of Rs 47,427.10 crore in 363, while in 83 out of 87 test-checked projects, the cost overrun was to the extent of Rs 12,807.64 crore, said the CAG report tabled in Maharashtra legislature today.

"Of the 601 ongoing projects, 225 projects were under execution for more than 15 years, of which, 77 projects were under execution for more than 30 years. In the test-checked projects, 16 projects were under execution for more than 30 years.

"Further, of the 601 ongoing projects, there was a cost overrun of Rs 47,427.10 crore in 363 ongoing projects, while in 83 out of 87 test-checked projects, the cost overrun was to the extent of Rs 12,807.64 crore," the CAG report said.

CAG's "Present performance audit on Management of Irrigation Projects" covering a period 2007-13 was tabled in the state legislature.

CAG said the audit is an attempt to review not only the individual irrigation projects selected in the sample, but also discuss in sufficient detail the project-level planning, tendering and contract management and project implementation.

In 37 out of 87 test-checked projects on which an expenditure of Rs 9,078.58 crore had been incurred, complete land (forest and civil) was not acquired before commencement of work thereby depriving the users of the benefits of the projects, the report said.

Estimates for irrigation projects were prepared without proper survey of dam sites leading to changes in the original design after issue of work orders. In 15 out of 87 test-checked projects, improper survey before commencement of works resulted in an increase in cost of these projects by Rs 2,099 crore, besides delaying their completion.

There was no well-defined system of granting administrative approvals and revised administrative approvals to the irrigation projects by the Irrigation Development Corporations. Three Irrigation Development Corporations granted administrative approvals to 63 projects amounting to Rs 2,467.94 crore in the non-backlog districts in violation of delegation of powers and the Governor's directives.

As per the report, the Irrigation Development Corporations violated the provisions of the Maharashtra Public Works Manual.

Of the total 601 ongoing projects, in 21 ongoing projects an expenditure of Rs 133.42 crore over and above 10 per cent of the administrative approvals amount was incurred, while in 100 ongoing projects an expenditure of Rs 2,367.28 crore was incurred over and above the revised administrative approvals, without the approval of the competent authority.

The Government incurred a financial liability of Rs 90.04 crore in execution of Kondhane minor irrigation project (Raigad district), which was taken up without regulatory permissions and other mandatory clearances.

The selection of contractor was not transparent and the award of work for increased height of the dam within 33 days of the initial award was irregular, the CAG report said.

The estimates for the projects were not prepared in sufficient detail.

In 19 projects, 24 individual items of works like construction of tunnel work, ring road, Irrigation-Cum-Power- Outlet, canal work etc. amounting to Rs 424.56 crore were attached irregularly to the respective original works without inviting tenders, in violation of the Maharashtra Public Works Manual.

In five test-checked projects, extra items valuing Rs 28.53 crore were irregularly sanctioned to the contractors.

In 37 contracts, mobilisation advance of Rs 478.95 crore was paid to the contractors though the contract conditions did not provide for such advance.

There was short/non-recovery of royalty charges and insurance premium from the contractors to the extent of Rs 9.82 crore.

CAG observed that the monitoring and internal controls in the Water Resources Department were weak. Regular monthly meetings of the Governing Councils were not held by the Irrigation Development Corporations, in violation of the provisions of the Irrigation Development Corporation Acts.

The State Level Technical Advisory Committee established in October 2010, for scrutinising project proposals valuing Rs 25 crore and above, did not have a member from the Central Water Commission for almost one year.

In the absence of any Rules/Manuals, the State Level Technical Advisory Committee conducted the scrutiny of the proposals without any prescribed guidelines and time limits for clearance of projects were not adhered to, the report said.

The CAG said that the Management Information System was poor due to discrepancies in various reports prepared by the Water Resources Department.

The Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority also failed to perform its role as a regulator as envisaged in the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority Act, 2005, the CAG report said.

The State Water Policy of 2003 envisaged formation of River Basin Agency for each river basin which was to have the responsibility and authority for preparation of integrated river basin plans. Based on the plans of respective River Basin Agencies, the state was to prepare a State Water Resource Plan.

However, the plan was not prepared for development and management of water resources in the state, the report said.

Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority cleared 189 projects during 2007-2013, though the State Water Resource Plan, based on which the projects were required to be cleared, was not prepared.

The need for prioritising the completion of ongoing projects was stressed from time to time through Governor's Directives, High Power Committee and Planning Commission recommendations.

It was also expected that the backlog in physical terms would be liquidated as a result of enhanced allocation to the backlog districts.

However, lack of prioritisation of projects as also new projects taken up in non-backlog districts resulted in thin spreading of the resources and consequently, the Water Resources Department was saddled with 601 projects which were under execution as on June 2013 with an estimated balance cost of Rs 82,609.64 crore.

The balance cost was nine times the capital grant of the Water Resources Department for the year 2012-13.

Also, there was a physical backlog of 2.34 lakh hectares in four districts of Akola, Amravati, Buldhana and Washim in the Vidarbha region as of April 2012.

The implementation of Vishnupuri major irrigation project, initially approved in May 1979 at a cost of Rs 32.24 crore, was hampered by frequent changes in the scope of work, it said.

The Water Resources Department accorded four Revised Administrative Approvals increasing/decreasing the scope (construction of barrages, length of canals, pumps for lifting water etc.) resulting in delays and increase in the cost of the project by Rs 2,419.76 crore and shifting the water from the command areas of Vishnupuri project (downstream) to the command area of Jayakwadi project (upstream of Vishnupuri project).

Further, environment clearance necessitated by an increase in the irrigation potential due to construction of 13 additional barrages, was not obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the report said.

The Dam Safety Organisation did not follow the criteria for selection of dams for periodic inspections. At the end of March 2013, 348 large dams remained un-inspected for more than 10 years. The compliance to deficiencies pointed out in the health status reports of the dams was significantly low and ranged between less than one per cent and 43.81 per cent during 2007-12.

Officers of the Quality Control Circles inspect the dam construction sites and issue 'Red Inspection Slips' in case of serious deficiencies are noticed during such inspections. Works should not resume unless the deficiencies pointed out in Red Inspection Slips are rectified.

However, execution of 30 out of 81 dam works, wherein Red Inspection Slips were issued by the Quality Control Circles, were continued without obtaining OK cards.

While the Manual stipulating the inspection schedule was not prepared by the Nagpur and Aurangabad Quality Control Circles, there were shortfalls in inspections conducted by the Executive Engineers (6.25 per cent to 33.33 per cent), Sub- Divisional Engineers (3.33 per cent to 86.66 per cent), Assistant Engineers (1.5 per cent to 91.33 per cent) under the Quality Control Circle, Pune.

Compliance to inspection notes of the Quality Control Organisation on the construction works was poor. Of the 5,991 inspection notes issued during 2009-13, forty per cent of the inspection notes (2,411) were outstanding, the CAG report said.