Though the white paper on irrigation elaborated on a host of reasons that led to cost escalation in various projects, it was silent on undue favours given to contractors in Konkan and Vidarbha regions.
The white paper has referred to a range of reasons from land acquisition and rehabilitation to prices of cement, stone, sand and iron for the cost escalation. However, there were undue delays even after administrative approvals were given to projects.
One of the reasons that resulted in cost escalation was change in scope of work due to demands made by public representatives and stakeholders. The white paper also mentioned excise, service tax, labour and VAT as reasons for the cost escalation.
It also puts the blame on delay in statutory clearances and lack of funds for the cost escalation. The white paper also stated that cost escalation took place due to delay in environmental clearances, prevailing conditions and the construction period. The report, however, did not clarify on several allegations such as undue favours given to contractors by the Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC).
There was also no mention of the ND Vadnere Committee report on the Vidharba Industrial Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC), which probed into the irrigation projects commissioned by the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) between 2006 and 2010.
The report pointed to the Gosikhurd project and the on the 265 tenders issued in four years which were above 5% of the original tender costs. Besides, it didn’t mention other reports such as a state-appointed committee raised questions over the construction of 11 barrages in Marathwada.
The white paper, which almost gave a clean chit to Ajit Pawar, claimed that the government has increased the irrigation potential by 28% in the last decade. The irrigation potential has risen to 47.50 lakh hectares in 2010 from 37 lakh hectares in 2001.