KARNATAKA

Cost escalation a hurdle in Krishna basin projects

T.V. Sivanandan

GULBARGA: The cost escalation of major and medium irrigation projects in the Krishna basin continues to be a major issue in completing these projects on time.

The schemes have to be completed for the State to use its share of Krishna waters under Scheme A of the Bachawat Tribunal Award.

The cost escalation in around 20 ongoing major and medium irrigation projects in Krishna basin is a whooping Rs. 4,883.45 crores.

This works out to nearly 300 per cent the original cost of Rs. 1,409.32 crores of these projects at the time of sanction.

Delay

One of the main reasons cited by the State Government for the increase in the cost is the inordinate delay in completing the projects.

Insufficient budgetary allocation of funds by successive Governments and an increase in the cost of raw materials such as steel and cement has also contributed to the steep rise in the project cost.

Some of the irrigation projects such as the Bhadra project, which was taken up in 1947, is still pending. While the cost of the project at the time of sanction was Rs. 33.53 crores, it has gone up significantly to Rs. 186.63 crores now.

Official sources told The Hindu here on Saturday that the figures provided here of the cost escalation are separate from the increase in cost of Stage I and II of the Upper Krishna Project (UKP), whose original cost was estimated at Rs. 4,001.08 crores and has increased to Rs. 12,796.09 crores now.

Sources said that the highest cost escalation among the projects is in the Ghataprabha III Stage, taken up in 1972.

As against the original cost of Rs. 90.54 crores, the project now costs around Rs. 947 crores.

Irrigation potential

Of the irrigation potential of 1.78 lakh hectares, the project irrigates 1.16 lakh hectares as on March 2004, incurring an expenditure of Rs. 633.11 crores.

Similarly, the Malaprabha Major Irrigation Project, which was to cost Rs. 162.09 crores at the time of sanction in 1960, now costs Rs. 816 crores.

So far Rs. 782.35 crores has been spent on providing irrigation to 1.91 lakh hectares.

The cost of the much-delayed Hippargi Mayor Irrigation Project in Belgaum district too has skyrocketed.

At the time of sanction in 1973, the project cost was around Rs. 186.69 crores. It has now increased to Rs. 901 crores.

Despite spending Rs. 81.36 crores on the project, irrigation facilities have not been made available to even a single hectare of the 74,742-hectare command area.

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