With its highly controversial Jalayagnam programme coming under intense scrutiny of the Government of India, the Planning Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to do a “reality check” to determine the exact results.
Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, while inaugurating a two-day conference of the district Collectors in Hyderabad on Wednesday, asked the District Collectors to send detailed reports on the exact irrigation potential created in each district consequent upon the construction of various irrigation projects.
The State government claims to have spent over Rs 65,000 crore since 2004 on various irrigation projects it has taken up under the Jalayagnam programme with the aim of creating a new ayacut of one crore acres in addition to the existing 2.92 crore acres.
Of the total 86 major and medium irrigation projects taken up under the programme, only 12 have been completed fully and 21 partially in the last seven-and-a-half years.
Government estimates say an additional irrigation potential of 20 lakh acres has been created out of these projects but there are no takers for this claim.
“There are doubts about the additional irrigation potential created. Creation of potential is one thing and water actually flowing into the agricultural fields is another. There is need for a reality check in this regard,” the Chief Minister told the District Collectors.
He asked them to review the situation with the respective District Irrigation Advisory Boards and submit a factual report to the government at the earliest. He also directed the Irrigation Department authorities to furnish all relevant data to each District Collector for cross verification.
The Chief Minister also wanted the Collectors to concentrate more on irrigation projects and constantly monitor their progress.
According to a Programme Evaluation Report of the Planning Commission of India, the contemplated irrigation potential under Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme in respect of 22 major and medium irrigation projects is 12,20,899 hectares against which an IP of only 2,14,307 hectares has been created up to March, 2009.
“There has not been much progress in irrigation projects essentially due to funds crunch and other factors like political turmoil in the State over the last two years.
Hence, there is a large deficit in the actually irrigation potential created,” a senior official of the Irrigation Department admitted.
In fact, the CAG also found serious lapses in the implementation of the Jalayagnam programme because of which there has been a very high cost overrun to the tune of a whopping Rs 28,000 crore.
“Non-completion of projects within the stipulated period not only resulted in increase in cost, but also deprived the state of intended benefits for prolonged periods,” the CAG observed in its report for 2010-11 fiscal.