The state water resources department’s largesse to irrigation contractors by doling out mobilisation advances, a one-time payment to start the project which is adjusted later, has not been limited to Vidarbha alone; contractors in the Konkan have also been favoured at the cost of the state exchequer.
The Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC) recommended a mobilisation advance of Rs. 15 crore each to FA Construction and its sister concern FA Enterprises in 2009 and 2011 for building Shai and Susari dams in Thane district, despite there being no such condition in the tender documents.
These projects, that aim to provide potable water to Vasai-Virar and Mumbai's metropolitan region, have also seen massive cost escalations.
In the case of Susari, the Vasai-Virar corporation approved a Rs. 2 crore project, but when the KIDC issued the tender, it was for Rs279 crore. Water resources minister Sunil Tatkare had told HT the corporation had made an error and the project cost had always been around Rs. 270 crore.
The ND Vadnere panel scrutinising Vidarbha irrigation projects had recommended in 2010 that such advances should not be given unless mentioned in tender document as existing banking facilities are sufficient to assist contractors with loans.