Irrigation dept drags feet, holds up funds for 8 projects

The Irrigation Department's laxity has led to the Centre withholding financial assistance for eight major irrigation projects in the state.

The department has not received any money for these projects in the current year as it failed to submit utilisation certificates of funds it had got last year, or delayed submitting the cost estimates of future works.

The total amount sanctioned for these eight projects is Rs 1,136 crore in the current year, of which the central government had to release Rs 408 crore as its share.

The central government funds several irrigation projects in the state which are covered under the accelerated irrigation benefit programme (AIBP). The Centre's share ranges from 25 per cent to 90 per cent of the total cost. The most important among these are the Saryu Canal and Sharda Sahayak projects, which were expected to receive nearly Rs 100 crore from the central government.

For Saryu Canal project, which covers Bahraich, Gonda, Balrampur, Sidharth Nagar, Basti, Shrawasti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Gorakhpur and Maharajganj, the Centre is to give 25 percent of the total budget. This year, the state government has allocated Rs 300 crore, but the grant of Rs 75 crore from the Centre has not been released. The reason being that the state government is yet to submit the utilisation certificates of Rs 70.875 crore released by the central government in 2011-12.

The Sharda Sahayak was expected to receive Rs 25 crore as the Centre's share, but the state did not submit the utilisation certificate for Rs 20 crore received from the Centre last year. The Sharda Sahayak project covers 16 districts.

Grants are also pending for Barh Sagar project in Allahabad and Mirzapur. The Centre's share for this project was Rs 90 crore for 2012-13. Release of grant has also been held up for Choudhary Charan Singh Lahchura Dam project in Hamirpur, Mahoba and Jhansi as the state is yet to submit a revised estimate. The Centre was to release Rs 13.27 crore for this project.

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