CAG report reveals salinity control project costs in Gujarat spiked by 455% due to delays

A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the Salinity Ingress Prevention Scheme (SIPS) was tabled in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.

PTI March 30, 2018 16:58:37 IST
CAG report reveals salinity control project costs in Gujarat spiked by 455% due to delays

Ahmedabad: The CAG has expressed dissatisfaction over the Gujarat government's efforts to control salinity ingress in coastal areas, saying the delay in implementing various works has escalated the project cost by 455 percent.

A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the Salinity Ingress Prevention Scheme (SIPS) was tabled in the state Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.

CAG report reveals salinity control project costs in Gujarat spiked by 455 due to delays

A file image of the chief minister-elect of Gujarat Vijay Rupani. PTI

The government has not enacted a law in this regard despite being recommended by a high-level committee (HLC) almost 40 years ago, it pointed out.

The CAG noted that the state government had appointed two HLCs in 1976 and 1978 to study the problem and suggest appropriate measures to save ground water in coastal areas from getting affected by the ingress of sea water towards land.

Both these HLCs submitted their reports, having various recommendations, between 1978 and 1984, the CAG said, adding all these reports were accepted by the Gujarat government in the subsequent years.

The recommendations included construction of tidal regulators or "bandharas", check dams, recharge wells and reservoirs, tidal-cum-demonstration (TCD) farms, afforestation and coastal land reclamation.

But, when the CAG conducted its audit on the status of the implementation of recommendations under SIPS, it found that "except in case of check dams and recharge wells, the progress of works was very slow even after lapse of 25 to 39 years since the acceptance of reports of HLCs".

The CAG said, "No or limited action was taken for the establishment of tidal-cum-demonstration farms, coastal land reclamation, gully plugging and afforestation."

"Even the plan document, detailed project report and budget estimates were not prepared for these activities," it said.

The apex auditor also said that as against the original cost of Rs 789.65 crore, which was estimated for the project by HLCs, an expenditure of Rs 1,045.65 crore was incurred up to March 2017.

"For the remaining works, the estimate was revised to Rs 2,544.79 crore. Thus, due to the delay in implementation of the recommended works, cost of scheme escalated by 455 per cent," the said.

The CAG also noted that though the HLCs, way back in 1978, recommended enacting a law "to impose control on the excessive use of ground water", no such legislation was brought by the government as on end of 2017.

The CAG rapped Gujarat for failing to bring such a law and observed that such a legislation had already been enacted and implemented in states like Goa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal.

"But, it was not enacted and implemented by Gujarat.

Thus, the fact remains that no management techniques recommended by the HLCs have been implemented even after a lapse of 25 to 39 years of its acceptance by the state government," the CAG noted.

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