ANDHRA PRADESH

Fresh irrigation projects fail to cover targeted area

Special Correspondent

YSR angry with `slow pace' of work; additional 6.5 lakh acres covered

Guthpa, Alisagar, Pushkaram, Tadipudi, Gundlakamma sufferCritical components not completed due to floods, disputes

HYDERABAD: An additional area of 6.5 lakh acres could be provided irrigation against 7.52 lakh acres promised by the Rajasekhara Reddy Government under new projects by the end of the kharif season.

This shortfall of over one lakh acres is attributed to non-completion of critical components of some irrigation projects due to a variety of problems such as floods that thwarted construction work and disputes raised by contractors, leading to delay. Guthpa, Alisagar, Pushkaram and Tadipudi -- all based on the Godavari -- and Gundlakamma in Prakasam district were among the projects that suffered on these counts.

Review of progress

Reviewing the progress of the projects taken up as part of Jalayagnam at a meeting with senior officials on Wednesday, Dr. Reddy could hardly conceal his anger over the `slow pace' of works. Regretting the shortfall, he recalled how he took pride in announcing the target on the floor of the Assembly.

He noted that expenditure on these projects by October-end was Rs. 12,858 crores as against agreements signed with contractors for executing works worth Rs. 30,197 crores. The region-wise expenditure on the irrigation projects was Rs. 7,594 crores in Telangana, Rs. 2,280 crores in Andhra and Rs 1,703 crores in Rayalaseema.

New target

The Chief Minister asked officials to go by the project-specific timeframes fixed earlier and complete the components fast, now that work season had begun. He fixed a target of 8-9 lakh acres of ayacut till the next kharif. When officials complained about lack of staff in view of the stupendous task ahead, he sanctioned 500 posts of engineers and offered to notify the posts at once.

Dr. Reddy fixed a six-month deadline for getting forest clearances for all irrigation projects and wanted officials to make efforts to obtain assistance of at least Rs. 2,000 crores from the Centre under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme before March next. He reportedly ordered the immediate transfer of a special Deputy Collector of Nandyal allegedly involved in irregularities in land acquisition. He said the irrigation budget for 2007-08 would be Rs. 13,000 crores and Rs. 17,000 crores in the subsequent fiscal.

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