Saturday, May 9, 2015

They waited for decades without a drop

Parts of Kalaburagi and Bidar districts are perennially drought-prone. Yet, irrigation projects in the Krishna and Godavari basins that could have made a big difference to the region have been languishing for over four decades, without being completed.

The major and medium-irrigation projects, taken up originally as drought-relief works in 1972 and later converted into irrigation projects, are yet to be completed even after 43 years.

The delay has resulted in cost escalation and waste of public money.

Significant projects among them are the Bennethora Major Irrigation Project, Amarja and Lower Mullamari Medium Irrigation projects in Kalaburagi district and Karanja Major Irrigation Project in Bidar. In 1972, the estimated cost of all of them was less than Rs. 10 crore.

Now, the estimated cost of each range from Rs. 230 crore to Rs. 650 crore. Bhima Lift Irrigation Project, started in 1992-93, is also incomplete. For instance, the revised cost of the Bennethora project when it got administrative and technical approval in 1991-92 was Rs. 73.23 crore; today it has gone up to nearly Rs. 600 crore.

Ironically, the project was “inaugurated” by the then Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy even before the canals and distributaries were in place in July 2006.

For Karanja, whose revised cost was Rs. 98 crore when given technical approval, has gone up to nearly Rs. 650 crore. For the Lower Mullamari and Amarja medium irrigation projects, whose revised cost of Rs. 51.5 crore and Rs 57.8 crore, respectively, in 1991, it is now Rs. 230 crore and Rs. 278 crore.

The cost of the Bhima Lift Irrigation Project, designed to irrigate 24,300 hectares, was Rs. 107 crore in 1993-94. This has spiralled to more than Rs. 600 crore.

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