An investment of Rs. 75.21 crore by the Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWSDB) in a technically non-feasible drinking water project in Kolar district to provide drinking water to Kolar city, Bangarpet and Malur towns and 45 villages from the Markendaya river near Yargol village in Bangarpet taluk has come to light.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of General (CAG) of India has in its report published in February this year said that the Water Resource Development Organisation (WRDO) had warned that the project was technically unviable and that the required quantity of water for providing drinking water to Kolar city, Bangarpet, Malur towns and 45 villages was not available in the river.
The KUWSDB has taken up the project at a cost of Rs. 230.13 crore. It has spent Rs. 75.21 crore so far. In the first phase of the project, the KUWSDB has proposed to take up the construction of a barrage across the river near Yargol at a cost of Rs. 160 crore and in the second phase it would lay a raising main, construct a water treatment plant, feeder mains and overhead tanks at a cost of Rs. 79.13 crore.
The report said that the scheme required 500 million cubic feet (MCFT) of water at the proposed barrage site and the Engineer-in-Chief of WRDO informed the Secretary of the Water Resources Department in September 2007 that water required for the scheme was inadequate at the proposed barrage site.
While the availability of water in the entire catchment of the river up to the proposed barrage was 764.04 MCFT, the storage capacity of six minor irrigation tanks and 241 zilla panchayat tanks, which existed in the catchment area was 766.71 MCFT. “Thus no water would be available for the proposed barrage,” he had said.
The CAG said that although the issue of availability of water without a dependable source remained doubtful, the KUWSDB went ahead with the scheme and awarded Phase II to an agency at a cost of Rs. 88.89 crore in January 2009. The expenditure incurred till the end of November 2010 was Rs. 68.66 crore. The board also entrusted Phase I to another contractor without fully acquiring land required for submergence, barrage and allied works.
An expenditure of Rs. 6.55 crore on survey, investigation and land acquisition had been incurred till the end of November 2010.
The CAG did not accept the defence of the KUWSDB that the project was viable and that sufficient water was available. It referred the findings of the WRDO disputing the assessment of water availability.
“The board's decision to make the investment on a water supply scheme without there being a dependable water source in disregard of technical advice given by WRDO was flawed and was fraught with the risk of the investment remaining unfruitful,” it said.
The CAG referred the matter to the State Government in June 2010 but till December 2010, the latter had not responded.