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Playing ducks & drakes with irrigation funds: Can Sarkar really blaze a trail?

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  1 Feb 2015 12:00 AM GMT

A reality check shows that five of the six big irrigation projects of the state are not operatiol due to various reasons like non–completion for around 25 years, faulty construction etc. Likewise, 12 of the 14 medium irrigation projects and most of the over 50,000 small irrigation schemes in the state are not functiol. A simple question that baffles everyone is: where have the funds gone?

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, January 31: Can new State Irrigation Minister Chandan Sarkar, who preferred to club himself with the likes of Akbar and Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva on the line of their formal educatiol qualifications, can really blaze a trail the way Akbar and Sankardeva did in their respective fields? If he can, there is no power on earth who can ‘dismember’ Sarkar from the ‘elite club’ mentioned above. Of course, there is a chance for Sarkar to prove his mettle, if he is at all interested towards that end.

It is as clear as day that over Rs 10,000 crore has been spent in the past 14 years in Assam in the me of irrigation, but the outcome is such that only five per cent of the state agricultural land has irrigation facilities. The pertinent question is: where has the funds been dumped? If Sarkar wants, he can be hot on the trail of the funds, misused or swindled, and bring the culprits to the book. Such an action will certainly make all right–thinking people to club Sarkar in the ‘elite club’ of ‘Akbar and Sankardeva’ on their own.

There is huge budgetary allocation for irrigation in every fiscal in the state. In fiscal 2013–14, the state budgetary allocation for irrigation was Rs 1,185 crore. Funds keep coming to the irrigation head from other sources like the Fince Commission and other Central Government schemes like AIBP too every year. On irrigation head, the recommendations of the 11th FC, 12th FC and the 13th FC for Assam had been Rs 420 crore, 948 crore and 1,243 crore respectively. Apart from this, the irrigation department of the state gets funds from the Non–Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR). When all such funds that keeping coming to the irrigation head in the state are taken into account, the actual amount of funds which the department got in the past 14 years was much more than Rs 10,000 crore.

What is significant is that all the Central funds received in the past 14 years by the State Irrigation Department, led by successive ministers, have been shown as fully utilized, along with utilization certificates. If all such funds were properly utilized, the irrigation scerio in the state on the ground should have tallied the amount of funds spent. An outcome of only five per cent irrigation coverage in the state is grossly imbalanced with the funds shown to have been spent on the irrigation heard.

A reality check shows that five of the six big irrigation projects of the state are not operatiol due to various reasons like non–completion for around 25 years, faulty construction etc. Likewise, 12 of the 14 medium irrigation projects and most of the over 50,000 small irrigation schemes in the state are not functiol. A simple question that baffles everyone is: where have the funds gone? Will Sarkar, as the new Irrigation Minister of the state, like to be on the trail of the way the huge amount of funds spent by the department and book the culprits? If he can, he can surely beat the likes of Akbar and Sankardeva. It is a matter to watch keenly what Sarkar does in the days ahead as the state Irrigation Minister.


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