Bengaluru: Multiple modifications in estimates of irrigation potential and alignment of canals are among the reasons that led to a steep 240% increase in costs and time overruns in at least 13 lift irrigation schemes (LIS) in Karnataka, according to a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report.
The report, tabled in the Karnataka legislature on Thursday, pointed out that projected costs for the 13 LIS had shot up from Rs3,549.19 crore to Rs12,154.81 crore. Some of these LIS projects such as Bhima, Hipparagi-4, Singatalur and Tilavalli had received administrative approvals as early as 1991 but no action was initiated to implement them.
“Since the various components of the lift works had not been synchronised, the commissioning of LIS was delayed. Besides, the investment fell idle and farmers were unable to reap the unintended benefits,”the report said.
Rainfall has been deficient for several years in Karnataka, and the state is currently facing its second consecutive drought. Verdicts in major river water disputes, including the Cauvery and the Mahadayi—two key sources for water in south and northern regions of the state — have not favoured the state. The Karnataka government has also been looking to invest in drip irrigation and other schemes to utilize water optimally and reduce dependence on rains.
The CAG report pulls up the state government for excess infrastructure, unsatisfactory progress, under utilisation and avoidable expenditure in various irrigation projects.
In the last three years, the state has allocated Rs42,536.27 crore, of which Rs25,283.32 crore has been released to create irrigation potential for over 570,000 acres, according to a 2013-16 report from the water resources department.
The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in the state had proposed to invest close to Rs1 trillion in irrigation projects in five years, almost double the initial estimates, M.B.Patil, Karnataka water resources minister had said in November last year.
The CAG report also said various costs incurred in Tubachi-Babaleshwar LIS, Guddada Mallapur LIS among others to the tune of nearly Rs300 crore could have been avoided.
However, CAG has also pulled up the state for creation of excess infrastructure and overestimating irrigation potential due to ill-planning in Ainapur and Halyal lift irrigation schemes.