Mumbai, Mar 28 (PTI) Delays and irregularities led to the cost of the Gosikhurd irrigation project in Vidarbha to rise nearly 50 times in 34 years, while the irrigation potential achieved was a mere fifth of what was aimed at, a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has said.

The report was tabled in the Maharashtra Legislature today.

Though the cost has been revised for a third time, the Central Water Commission did not sanction the revision for want of a viable funding plan, the CAG said, while slamming the state government for a shoddy execution of the project.

The estimated cost escalated from Rs 372 crore to Rs 18,494.57 crore, but the irrigation potential created (50,317 hectares) is far less than the target (2,50,800 hectares), and even the created potential was not utilised fully, it said.

While certain works were not executed as per the approved designs, execution was delayed because of non-availability of land, failure to get approval for drawings and designs, and also to obtain statutory permissions, it said.

Contract conditions were violated in certain cases, resulting in the contractors getting undue benefit, it said.

While in some cases rehabilitation of Project-Affected People (PAPs) was delayed as the necessary amenities were not created or were incomplete, in some cases the amenities were created much before the actual rehabilitation, resulting in their deterioration for want of maintenance.

There were cases of both double payment of compensation and delayed payment, the report said.

Gosikhurd Irrigation Project on the Wainganga river in the Godavari basin was approved in March 1983 with an aim to irrigate 2,50,800 hectares annually in Bhandara, Nagpur and Chandrapur districts of Maharashtra.

The project was declared a national irrigation project by the Centre in February 2009.

However, performance audit of the project for 2012-17 revealed that the state Water Resources Department had failed on all fronts to execute the project, the CAG said.

Even 34 years later, with Rs 9,712.09 crore spent, only 20 per cent of the envisaged irrigation potential could be realised, it said.

The departmental supervision was “minimal”, resulting in substandard work, it said.

The CAG also noted that the dam water was being polluted due to an unregulated release of sewage in the connecting rivers.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.