Irrigation projects in Kerala : Mammoth monuments of corruption

May 14, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

A close look at the progress of major irrigation projects in Kerala across years would clearly reveal that these projects have ended up as mammoth monuments of corruption.

Specific cases have been that of the Karapuzha irrigation project, Muvattupuzha valley irrigation project, Idamalayar irrigation project and Banasurasagar irrigation project. These four irrigation projects, works for which started in the seventies and in the beginning of eighties with a total original estimate of Rs. 54.31 crores  have been still continuing even after incurring an expenditure of a whopping Rs. 1198.59 crores by the year 2013. Eventhough target area (gross) to be irrigated (ha) was estimated at 80,234 (ha), the physical achievement as on March 13 was only 32,044 ha and that too with regard to Muvattupuzha (31106 ha) and Karappuzha (938 ha)projects only.

In order to create a reservoir of 76.50 Mm3 storage capacity in the Wayanad District of Kerala the Karappuzha Irrigation project was taken up in the year 1976 with an original project cost of Rs. 7.60 crore. In the year 2010, ie after a period of 34 years since inception, the project cost was revised to Rs. 441.0 crores (58 times of the original cost). The cost escalation was 5709 percent. Expenditure incurred upto 2013 October was Rs. 294.69 crores. And even after spending so much of money, the physical achievement has been only 938 ha as on March 13 against a target of 8721 ha (gross).

Envisaging utilization of tailrace water from Idukki Hydro Electric project, the Muvattupuzha valley Irrigation project (MVIP) was started in the year 1974. With an estimated cost of Rs, 20.86 crore the MVIP was supposed to provide irrigation facilities to 37,737 ha (gross) in the districts of Ernakulam, Kottayam and Idukki. After a duration of 37 years, in 2011, the original estimate of MVIP was revised to Rs. 939.00 crores and the cost escalation has been 4401 percent. And even after spending Rs. 855.4 crores by October 2013, only 31,106 ha of land has been irrigated against a target of 37,737 ha (gross). The State Planning Board has recommended that “The project has to be closed at a convenient stage for the optimum utilization of resources invested considering the implementation of the project for more than three decades”.

The Idamalayar Irrigation project is another mammoth monument of corruption. The original estimate of this project which started construction in the year 1981 had an original estimate of Rs. 17.85 crores. And after three decades since inception, the original estimate of this project was revised by 3788 percent to Rs 694.00 crores. By 2013 October, only 55 percent of this amount (Rs.381.24 crores) have been spent. Unfortunately even after spending a huge amount of Rs. 381 crores during the last three decades, it has been shocking to note that the total area irrigated against the target of 29036 ha(gross) is not known. The Idamalayar irrigation project was envisaged as a diversion scheme intended to irrigate an extended area of 29036 ha (gross).

The Banasurasagar irrigation project was started in the year 1971, to irrigate an area of  2800 ha of agriculture land for second and third crops with an estimate of Rs. 8 crores. In the year 2010, the project cost was revised to Rs. 185.50 with a cost escalation of 2219 percent. And by 2013 October only Rs. 44.61 crores was expended. Eventhough a total area of 4740 ha(gross) was to be irrigated the actual physical achievement is still not known.


Author:KM Shajahan

Filed in: Research

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