After spending over Rs 26,000 crore in the last 15 years, India’s flagship irrigation programme has covered only half of the area envisaged, a report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has found.
The Central government in 1996-97 launched the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) aimed at improving agricultural output by extending irrigation facilities to areas where it was non-existent.
“Against the targeted potential of 9.65 million hectares...only 4.90 million hectares was created,” said the CAG report tabled in Parliament this week.
In many projects, the report found, no irrigation facilities were created as the money was spent on existing ones.
Gujarat was given Rs 675 crore to build canals for drought-prone areas but the entire money was spent on existing or under-construction projects.
The CAG also said that 11 of the 28 major irrigation projects sanctioned between 2003-08 by the Planning Commission were done so without proper investigation and survey reports. Detailed reports of 17 projects were found without data on annual rainfall and soil survey as well as incomplete meteorological data.
Though on record 100 of the 253 irrigation projects sanctioned were shown to be complete, the CAG found 12 were incomplete or hadn’t been commissioned.
It also said that six states — Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa — cornered 75 to 85 per cent of the grants without corresponding performance
The audit scrutiny also revealed that undue benefit to contractors worth Rs 186 crore in 14 states was provided.
The CAG has also pulled up the Water Resources Ministry, which implements the scheme, for not taking action against states that failed to perform. There is a provision in AIBP guidelines that a grant can be converted into a loan if the project is not completed in time. That was not done in any of the cases.