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Dharmendra Jore, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, November 28, 2012
The water resources department has devised a methodology to curtail expenditure in the proposed irrigation projects worth Rs. 70,000 crore.

It has decided to give preferences to projects that are most needed and are near completion. The department expects the procedure to bring the proposed expenditure down to Rs. 40,000 crore. Other works worth Rs. 30,000 crore would be put on hold.

The state has 81 major projects, 122 medium projects and 577 minor projects. These are either complete or in various stages of completion.

A senior bureaucrat in Mantralaya told Hindustan Times that the curtailed cost would help expedite projects on priority basis. "Since we get an annual budget of more than Rs8,000 crore every year and we have floated tenders for Rs29,000 crore works, we would be able to complete most of these projects on a priority basis."

"We have mentioned the names of the public representatives whose interference and recommendations escalated cost of projects in the white paper," he added.

One such example cited is for lifting water for Gurukunj Mojhari from Upper Wardha project in Amravati district, which the local Congress legislature had recommended. It added Rs. 250 crore to the project cost.

The official made it clear that major projects in backlog-ridden areas would continue. "All Centre-funded projects and state-funded minor projects will also continue," he said.

To ensure transparency in the future, the department suggested that all regional irrigation corporations seek approval from the Mantralaya. "There have been complaints against unwarranted procurements [of material and equipment] by these corporations. We expect this practice to stop irregularities at the lowest level," the official said.