The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has rapped the previous BJP-led government over the implementation of its much-debated Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan (water conservation) scheme. CAG in its report, which was tabled in the state legislature, has observed that it had a little impact in achieving water neutrality and increasing groundwater level despite spending a whopping Rs 9,633.75 crore.
Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis-led government during 2014-19 had run a campaign during the implementation of the flagship scheme which aimed to make Maharashtra drought-free. The government had kept an annual target of 5,000 villages for 2015-19.
However, CAG has castigated the previous government for a lack of transparency in the execution of works and inadequate monitoring by the department. CAG, which conducted the audit for January to December 2019, submitted its report in June 2020.
According to the report, 22,586 villages were taken under the Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyanand nearly 6.41 lakh works were undertaken of which 6.30lakh (which is 98%) were completed at a cost of Rs 9633.75 crore. In 83 of 120 villages selected for the audit, the storage created was not sufficient to meet the water requirement as indicated in the village plan for drinking and irrigation.
In 37 of the 83 villages, the water shortage was because of less storage created than proposed. In 25 of 37 villages, the shortfall was more than 20%. CAG further observed that district authorities did not get periodical reports to monitor the progress of the implementation. It has slammed the maintenance of completed works and said none of the 120 villages collected cess towards maintenance and repairs as proposed in the scheme.
CAG further said the land under water-intensive cash crops increased in many villages while of the 80 villages declared water neutral there were only 29 villages. The third-party audits at Jawhar and Mokhada found major problems with the structural soundness of the projects.
The CAG has pulled up the authorities for not uploading pictures of ongoing works at various stages for maintaining transparency.
In his reaction, Fadnavis said it was not an indictment but there were recommendations as usual in the report. "The scheme would have been more successful if the Maha Vikas Aghadi government had allowed its continuation,’’ he noted.