"Deficiencies In Planning, Implementation & Monitoring" In Irrigation Projects Led To Increased Costs: CAG
The Comptroller and Audit General (CAG) tabled a report for the year ended March 2017 (for the audit period 2008-17) in the Parliament on January 8. The report highlighted the improper implementation, deficiencies, delays and diversion of funds of projects under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) between 2008-2017. The report said that projects and schemes included under AIBP in violation of the guidelines led to “irregular release” of Rs 3,718.71 crore.
AIBP was launched in 1996-97 as a Central Assistance (CA) programme to help the states in implementation of irrigation projects that required resources beyond what the state government could afford.
The report tabled by CAG has revealed deficiencies in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the programme. The report also said that the financial management for AIBP was inefficient, with “cases of non/short release of funds, delays in the release of funds at various levels, releases at the fag end of the financial year and non-adjustment of unspent balances of funds in the subsequent releases”.
The report said that the Utilisation Certificates for funds for 37% of the total CA received (Rs 2,187.40 crore) was not submitted to the Ministry on time. Several financial irregularities like diversion of funds worth Rs 1,578.55 crore, parking of Rs 1,112.56 crore worth of funds and fraudulent expenditure amounting to Rs 7.58 crore was also observed.
The report also said that Rs 1,337.81 crore was lost towards “irregular/wasteful/avoidable/extra expenditure” and Rs 303.36 crore due to undue favour given to the contractor.
Delay in completion of projects
The audit revealed that there has been a delay in completion of projects from last 18 years. Out of the 118 Major and Medium Irrigation (MMI) projects and 335 Minor Irrigation (MI) projects, only 30 MMI and 213 MI projects were completed as of March 2017.
“The delays in implementation of projects together with inefficient work management led to cost overrun in the projects,” said the report. For example, the total cost overrun in 84 MMI projects was Rs 1,20,772.05 crore, a staggering 295% of the original cost.
The audit also revealed that the monitoring by the Central and the State agencies was extremely poor.