Revenue losses of Rs 1,441cr as local industries use water from irrigation projects

Bhubaneswar: Many of the underway irrigation projects have failed to cater to water requirements of farmers while local industries have allegedly been taking benefits and using water from the projects, a report said Friday.

The industries are illegally procuring water sans any valid permission from the authorities concerned. As a result, this has brought a tremendous revenue loss of Rs 1441.83 crore during FY 2021-22 to the state exchequer.

The report was reflected in a recent report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) submitted in the House of state Assembly during its Budget Session.

According to the report, it has been difficult for the state government to provide full-fledged irrigation facilities to farmers for their farmlands. Despite crores of rupees being spent, the farmers feel the pinch of water scarcity and drought-like conditions every year.

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Moreover, preparation of wrong architectural designs, faulty detailed project reports (DPRs), fiscal mismanagements and undue delay in land acquisitions are the main causes behind failure on part of the proposed and/or under-construction irrigation projects.

In such cases, completion of the projects takes a minimum of 13 years to a maximum of 43 years, the CAG report has mentioned. Starting from 2014 to 2019, around Rs 12,742.11 crore was spent towards construction of different irrigation projects. It was then targeted to irrigate at least 5,02,842 hectare of farmlands.

However, 2,22,418 hectares of farmlands alone could be irrigated after successful completion and commissioning of some of the projects, which comes to nearly 24 cent of the decided target.

The CAG report added on saying that some industries have been accorded permission to use water meant for irrigating the farmlands. In a similar vein, contracts were earlier inked between the authorities concerned and different industries related to the use of water from Rengali Multi-purpose Irrigation Project.

Allegedly, there is no single mention in the DPR for providing water to industries from the irrigation project. On the other hand, water has not yet been provided to local farmers due to the unusual delay in construction of the mega irrigation projects.

The contracts were signed in gross violation of Orissa Irrigation Rules, 1961, at a later stage. Even to the extent, several local industries have been evading the water taxes decided by the government.

As per provisions envisaged in the Rules, a defaulter industry should be charged an interest at the rate of two per cent per month, in case payment is not made within due time period.

In May 2006, an agreement was signed between Brahmani left basin manager and Samal barrage chief engineer (left head) and the Orissa Power Consortium Limited (OPCL) for providing water from lower catchment regulator at 110Km, for next 30 years. The rate was fixed at Rs 60 per gallon. Accordingly, the industry had lifted 49.93 lakh gallons of water in between 2009 and September 2010.

Surprisingly, around Rs 246.14 crore has not been collected from the OPCL so far towards water tax and interest at the rate of two per cent per month for delay in payment, the CAG report stated.

Likewise, three more industries had signed agreements for receiving water from Samal barrage in 2016 and had misappropriated.

Another industry had used 47,696 Cusecs of water without any valid agreement with the authority concerned. In between 2014 to 2019, about Rs 505.08 crore was not collected from the company towards penalty at the rate of six times the water tax.

In 1999, an industry had used 47,696 Cusecs of water, but did not pay tax to the tune of Rs 644.67 crore, CAG report said.

PNN

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