Violation of cropping pattern in command area rampant: CAG report

Rampant violation of cropping pattern, unauthorised irrigation in the command area of the Tungabhadra irrigation project, failure of Water Resources Department officials to levy penalty on farmers violating cropping pattern and on those from outside command area drawing water unauthorisedly are some of the issues highlighted in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.

The report, which was submitted to the government and placed in the Legislative Assembly, states that from 2005 to 2010 cropping pattern violation in the Tungabhadra project was as high as 43.18 per cent and unauthorised irrigation allowed in the project was 22.22 per cent. Only 34.61 per cent of the area witnessed no violation of cropping pattern.

The CAG pointed out that unauthorised irrigation ranged from 48,015 hectares in 2007-08 to 1,15,922 hectares during 2008-09. And, cropping pattern violation ranged from 1,26,254 hectares in 2006-07 to 2,09,466 hectares in 2009-10. The CAG said that the farmers in the command area were required to adhere to the notified cropping pattern and are liable for payment of water charges.

The violation of the cropping pattern affected irrigation in lower reaches of the command area. Any violation of cropping pattern is liable for levy of penalty in the form of penal water rates at five times the normal rates. Drawing of water unauthorisedly by farmers from ouside the command area attracts penalty at 15 times the normal water charges.

The CAG report said that the fact that notified command area was deprived of water showed the inability of the government to ensure equitable distribution of available water.

The State government, in its reply to the CAG, stated that the original Detailed Project Report (DPR) contemplated to cover more physical area and adjacent land were notified either for khariff or rabi crops. Further all higher land has been levelled and brought under gravity flow. The violation of cropping pattern coupled with unauthorised irrigation existed for decades and it has become difficult to follow localisation as envisaged in the original DPR.

The State government further stated that the Technical Advisory Commission (TAC) of the State government in February 2002 had opined that it was almost impossible to change cropping pattern and deny irrigation to the existing unauthorised area “which had stabilised”. However, the State government had stated that the cropping pattern needs to be reviewed and revised as per the prevailing conditions.

The Command Area Development Authority of the Tungabhadra project had asked the Irrigation Department in August 2002 to make realistic assessment of command area by denotifying tail-end reach which does not get water and regularising the unauthorised area under irrigation. However, no progress was made in this regard, the report said. Modernisation of the Tungabhadra project had also been taken up without reviewing the prevailing conditions and revising the command area. As against the penal water charges of Rs. 241.96 crore, only Rs. 162.83 crore had been levied, and Rs. 79.12 crore had not been collected as per the official records available with the CAG.

State slammed for modernising Tungabhadra project without revising the command area

State says it is impossible to deny irrigation to the unauthorised area ‘which had stabilised'

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