The Hogenakkal water supply project presents a classic case of cost overrun.
When it was sought to be revived nearly 25 years after the project was mooted in the 1960s, the project was estimated to cost around Rs. 110 crore.
In 1986, when M.G. Ramachandran was Chief Minister, he had come up with a scheme to benefit people of three others districts too — Tiruvannamalai, Vellore and Cuddalore — along with Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. [Now, the project covers only Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri].
As a mark of remembering Kamaraj who had originally mooted the scheme, MGR had even named it as “Kamaraj Plan Project,” Ms Jayalalithaa said five years ago when she, as Leader of Opposition, led a walkout of her party members from the Assembly over a controversy involving the Hogenakkal project.
After Ms Jayalalithaa became Chief Minister for the first time in 1991, the project was sought to be given a fresh lease of life again and in 1994, the project cost was revised as Rs. 450 crore.
When the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam came to power in 1996, the cost went up to Rs. 600 crore. Even at that time, Japanese assistance was sought. When it looked like the approval of the Japan government was only a matter of formality, the 1998 Pokhran nuclear blasts took place. Consequently, economic sanctions were imposed on India. Years later, the project was revived once again and in August 2005 when the AIADMK was in power, the cost rose to Rs. 1,005 crore, and remained the same when the project was posed to the Japanese authorities in 2006.
In four years, the cost almost doubled, owing to one reason or the other. In 2010, it went up to Rs.1,928.8 crore from Rs.1,334 crore.