CAG slams Maharashtra for incomplete irrigation projects

Mumbai, April 18 (IANS) Spelling fresh troubles for Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, the CAG Thursday pulled up the Maharashtra government for hundreds of incomplete irrigation projects across the state with massive cost overruns amounting to around Rs.27,000 crore.

The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report for 2011-12, which was tabled before the state assembly Thursday, also pointed out that an amount of Rs.43,270 crore was spent on 426 incomplete irrigation projects in the state.

In a strong indictment of the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government, the CAG further said that some of the projects were pending for the past 45 years.

The NCP has controlled the irrigation department continuously since 1999 and Ajit Pawar, nephew of union Agricultural Minister Sharad Pawar, was the state irrigation minister between 1999-2010.

According to the CAG, the collective costs of the projects which were around Rs.7,215 crore shot up to Rs.33,832 crore – a whopping escalation of around Rs.26,617 crore.

The projects whose cost has escalated considerably include Krishna-Marathwada project (Rs.2,462 crore), Kukadi project (Rs.2,153 crore), Waghur (Rs.1,171 crore), Koyna IV (Rs.1,091 crore), Lower Dudhna (Rs.997 crore), Lower Tapi (Rs.985 crore), Shelgaon Barrage medium project (Rs.870 crore), Nandur-Madhmeshwar (Rs.818 crore), and the Bodwad project (Rs.819 crore).

“Though these irrigation projects commenced 5 to 45 years ago, they are not completed yet. The oldest, Kukadi project, was started in 1967 with the target date of completion in 1972,” the CAG said.

Besides, it raised eyebrows that over 98 projects of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation, 27 of Tapi Irrigation Development Corporation and three of Godavari Marathwada Irrigation Development Corporation remained incomplete since three-thirty seven years, though they have not incurred cost escalations.

After allegations of corruption were levelled in the irrigation department, Ajit Pawar had quit the ministry in September last year, but resumed office after two months.

The state government later appointed a committee headed by irrigation expert Madhav Chitale to probe into the alleged irrigation department scam after the opposition parties vociferously raised the issue.

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