New Delhi: The non-availability of land has resulted in as many as 11 states abandoning plans to construct 372 roads in rural areas under the flagship Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), one of the key programmes run by the rural development ministry.
According to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India tabled in Parliament on Friday, this has cost the exchequer ₹ 280 crore in losses.
Discrepancies were also found in planning, programme implementation and management of funds, according to the CAG report.
In some of its key recommendations, the central government auditor urged state governments to ensure that funds released for specific purposes are not diverted, that they should try to meet annual financial and physical targets with efforts focussed on optimal usage of retained excess or unutilized funds.
“...372 works in 11 states were abandoned/proposed to be abandoned mid-way on similar grounds after incurring expenditure of ₹ 280.01 crore," the official auditor said in its report.
The CAG also said that 538 works were not started and subsequently dropped completely due to the non-availability of land or land disputes.
Further in 13 states 1,550 works were dropped or proposed to be dropped for the various reasons such as deficient planning, remote location to carry the material, Maoist problem and no response to tenders, among others, the CAG said.
Earlier, the rural development ministry had said that a circular was issued to states in November 2013 for recouping the amount incurred on dropped roads under the PMGSY.
“The reply of the Ministry was not acceptable as the deficiencies in the preparation of DPRs continued and no remedial action was taken to minimise the dropping of the projects," the CAG said.
To review the progress of the PMGSY programme, CAG said it was decided to take up the performance audit covering the period from 2010-11 to 2014-15.
India introduced a new land acquisition law in 2013 which stipulated that consent of 70% farmers is required if land is being acquired for projects where the government is in partnership with private firms. The law was brought in the previous Congress led United Progressive Alliance government.
For private projects, the consent of 80% of farmers is required before the land can be acquired. The 2013 law, which replaced a law dating back to 1894, also made a social impact assessment mandatory before the land is acquired.
These provisions were seen as prohibitive by industry and blamed for the slowing growth of the economy.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, which came into office in May 2014, tried to amend the restrictive sections of the law but had to abandon its efforts given that it does not have a majority in the upper house of parliament.