When chief minister Prithviraj Chavan led an all-party delegation to the Centre on Tuesday to seek a Rs2,281 drought relief package, he was in for major embarrassment as the central officials pointed out that the state had failed to get Rs 800 crore irrigation funds under the accelerated irrigation benefit programme (AIBP) because it had not utilised the earlier grant, and had submitted a faulty proposal to the Centre.
Of the total aid, Chavan wanted Rs1,200 crore for irrigation projects under the AIBP as a long-term measure to make the state's 15 districts facing acute water shortage more self-sufficient in handling such crises in the future. The demand for irrigation was hiked from Rs700 crore at the insistence of its ally, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which controls the water resources department.
"When we made this demand, central officials slammed the state saying your [irrigation] department had not been able to submit utilisation certificates showing that funds granted were used to meet targets mutually agreed by the Centre and state. Unless they are achieved, further funds are not feasible," said a senior minister who was part of the delegation.
In fact, the central officials even warned the state that if these projects are not completed within the four-year period as agreed, as per protocol, the Centre could treat the grant component as a loan and recover it from the state.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh also called for discipline in irrigation planning.
Chavan, who had earlier stated that only 0.1% irrigation potential has been created in the last 10 years, much to the dismay of NCP, told HT, "There is some disparity in figures of irrigation potential created in the last decade and there should be clarity in this. I have asked both water resources departments to clarify on the matter."