Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Apr 15:
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out largescale irregularities to the tune of Rs 158.16 crore in the drinking water supply project in Odisha’s Puri town.
The project, which started in 2008 and was supposed to be live by December 2011, is far from complete seven year later.
With the oncoming summer season and first leg of Nabakalebara already started, the town is witnessing huge inflow if tourists and experiencing acute shortage of drinking water. However, nobody has a solution to this problem.
The CAG, in its report pointed out that, even though the initial target to complete the project was aimed at December 2011, the work was not even completed by end of 2014.
So far, the Puri PWD has spent Rs 27.8 crore, another Rs 86.19 crore for land acquisition while and the Irrigation Division of the district has spent Rs 44.17 crore. While Rs 158.16 crore has already been spent, major works such as development of water sources, construction of internal wells, water treatment plants and general water supply are yet to begin, the report has pointed out.
Land acquisition has been the biggest obstacle for the project. Though the Centre had sanctioned the fund in February 2009, the land acquisition has been delayed by two to three years for the 409.09 acres of private land. In the meanwhile, land rate has increased exponentially leading to an expense of Rs 86.19 crores instead of the originally planned Rs 17.75 crore. This is an extra burden of Rs 68.44 crore on the project, pointed out CAG in the report. Similarly, there has been inordinate delay in the transfer of government land.
The project has also incurred an extra expense of Rs 10.02 crore for the project map. Pipes worth Rs 16.3 crore, meant to be used in 11 reservoirs, are lying unused .
The report also points out to irregularities such as work orders without tenders. In spite of this, the project is far from being completed leading to a loss of Rs 158.16 crore.
The Executive Engineer, PWD, Puri , however has rubbished the report.
“The report which claims that Rs 27.8 crore was spent without any gains, is not true. There were delays in land acquisition due to non-cooperation of locals leading to delayed execution of the project. The quicksand and other technical difficulties have also been the reason of the delay. We will however try to wrap up the project by 2016 and commission the seven water tanks for usage during Nabakalebara,” said PWD Executive Engineer Sudhir Kumar Samal.
It may be noted that the project was initially conceptualised under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) for which the Centre had provided Rs 166.9 crore for the project. Out of this amount, the state government was supposed to spend Rs 17.75 crore for land acquisition. The project required 409.09 acres of private land and 143.31 acres of government land.
The state government later added the state government sponsored ‘Samuka Belabhumi Jalajogana Prakalpa’ (Shell beach water supply project) at a cost of Rs 59.33 crore and approved a joint project worth Rs 243.89 crore in July 2009.
The implementation of the project was assigned to three departments of the government of which the Housing and Urban Development department was to carry out water supply project worth Rs 83.83 crore and the Revenue department was to carry out the land acquisition and handover project worth Rs 86.19 crore while the Water Resources department was to spend Rs 142.4 crore to develop infrastructure for water resources.