The state government requires Rs75,366 crore to complete ongoing irrigation projects. But this burden has not made water resources minister Sunil Tatkare run shy of taking on new projects.
Tatkare, in his reply to the state assembly on the budgetary allocation for irrigation on Monday, suggested that legislators across party lines should take up cudgels against governor K Sankarnarayanan’s directive to not take up any new projects unless the old pending dams were completed. He said, “I will ask the CM and deputy CM to hold a meeting with the governor on the issue. I am also going to request him to do the same to ensure new projects are undertaken as per requirements of different regions.”
Tatkare argued that given the requirements of new towns and cities for drinking water, such as in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, there was a need to take up a new projects.
The governor, in his allocation for the year 2012-13, had put an embargo on new projects given the huge budget required to complete projects on hand.
It will take the state government up to take ten years to complete these ongoing projects at today’s cost. But, given the delays and ensuing inflation of materials used, labour costs, land acquisition, the cost of completing irrigation projects will keep on increasing.
Tatkare, in his reply, also admitted that Gosikhurd, one of Vidarbha’s biggest projects that has the potential to irrigate 2.50 lakh hectares, has seen a huge cost over run from Rs372 crore when it was conceived in 1983 to Rs7,777 crore now. That is an increase of over 20 times the original cost.
Tatkare, however, said there were various reasons for delay and it would be wrong to conclude that it was corruption that led to this increase in cost.
This was in reply to allegation made by Congress legislator from Chandrapur and former minister Vijay Wadetiwar, who alleged that there was a Rs2,000-crore scam in this project.
“I have been seeking the CBI probe in this. There are bogus works, tender exceeding budgetary provisions, certain contracting firms being favoured,'' he said. The allegations were surprising since they were made by the ruling alliance legislator.