Irrigation Projects Delayed to Jump in Costs: CAG

Prelims level : Agriculture Mains level : GS 3: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints
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  • Tardy implementation of projects under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) between 2008-2017 led to an almost threefold jump in the cost of these projects to ₹20 lakh crore, according to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

Data points revealed by the Report:

  • From 2008-2017, of the 201 major and medium (M&M) projects approved, only 62 were completed.
  • Of the 11,291 minor irrigation (MI) schemes sanctioned, only 8,014 were completed.
  • As a result, only about 35% of India’s irrigation potential was utilised.
  • Of the 118 major projects surveyed by the CAG, 105 suffered from a “time overrun” with some projects being delayed by more than 18 years.

Implications of the report:

  • The audit of the AIBP revealed lacunae in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the programme.
  • Projects and schemes were included under AIBP in violation of the programme’s guidelines, resulting in irregular release of ₹3,718.71 crore.
  • There were also deficiencies in the preparation and processing of Detailed Project Reports such as inadequate surveys, inaccurate assessment of water availability, Irrigation Potential and Command Area and the lack of activity-wise construction plans.
  • The CAG also pointed out “financial irregularities” such as diversion of funds amounting to ₹1,578.55 crore, parking of funds totalling ₹1,112.56 crore and “fictitious and fraudulent expenditure” of ₹58 crore.
  • There were also instances of short/non-realisation of revenue amounting to ₹1,251.39 crore.
  • The CAG report also mentioned that the monitoring by Central and State agencies was lax.
  • And there were shortfalls in number of monitoring visits by Central Water Commission (CWC) and reports were not prepared in all projects evaluated.
  • Further, compliance to issues highlighted in the CWC reports were also pending.

About Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme:

  • The Union Government launched Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) in 1996-97 for providing financial assistance to States, with an objective of expediting completion of ongoing Major/Medium including Extension, Renovation and Modernization (ERM) irrigation projects and Surface Minor Irrigation schemes.
  • Currently, this scheme has been subsumed as a component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).


About PMKSY:

  • The major objective of PMKSY is to achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level, expand cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water, enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More crop per drop), enhance recharge of aquifers and introduce sustainable water conservation practices by exploring the feasibility of reusing treated municipal waste water for peri-urban agriculture and attract greater private investment in precision irrigation system.
  • PMKSY has been conceived amalgamating ongoing schemes viz. Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,RD&GR), Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) of Department of Land Resources (DoLR) and the On Farm Water Management (OFWM) of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC).
  • The scheme will be implemented by Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Development.
  • Ministry of Rural Development is to mainly undertake rain water conservation, construction of farm pond, water harvesting structures, small check dams and contour bunding etc.
  • MoWR, RD &GR, is to undertake various measures for creation of assured irrigation source, construction of diversion canals, field channels, water diversion/lift irrigation, including development of water distribution systems.
  • Ministry of Agriculture will promote efficient water conveyance and precision water application devices like drips, sprinklers, pivots, rain-guns in the farm “(Jal Sinchan)”, construction of micro-irrigation structures to supplement source creation activities, extension activities for promotion of scientific moisture conservation and agronomic measures.
  • Programme architecture of PMKSY will be to adopt a ‘decentralized State level planning and projectised execution’ structure that will allow States to draw up their own irrigation development plans based on District Irrigation Plan (DIP) and State Irrigation Plan (SIP).
  • It will be operative as convergence platform for all water sector activities including drinking water & sanitation, MGNREGA, application of science & technology etc. through comprehensive plan.
  • State Level Sanctioning Committee (SLSC) chaired by the Chief Secretary of the State will be vested with the authority to oversee its implementation and sanction projects.
  • The programme will be supervised and monitored by an Inter-Ministerial National Steering Committee (NSC) will be constituted under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister with Union Ministers from concerned Ministries.
  • A National Executive Committee (NEC) will be constituted under the Chairmanship of Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog to oversee programme implementation, allocation of resources, inter-ministerial coordination, monitoring & performance assessment, addressing administrative issues etc.
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