AHMEDABAD/RAJKOT: Even as Gujarat stares at a water crisis this summer, irregularities in the laying of underground irrigation pipelines network — taking water from Narmada sub-minor canal to the farm — in the Narmada command area has raised major concerns.
Seven surprise onsite inspections by Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited’s (SSNNL) Saurashtra division vigilance staff have found Rs 66.33 crore worth of pipelines missing, for which payments have been made. Apparently, these were never installed in the villages!
The agencies contracted for the pipelines job have been traced to Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Gondal, Songadh , Mehsana, Dasada and Surat. These firms raised final bills and collected payments too.
The SSNNL has on Feb 2 issued a recovery order to these contractors. After two months of investigations, SSNNL officials realised the scope of multi-fold irregularities, including fictitious trenches and pipelines, and therefore widened their net across Saurashtra region and other SSNNL divisions in the state. The scope of irregularities is huge considering 3.11 lakh hectares of farms are to be watered by this underground pipeline network especially in water scarce Mehsana and Rajkot sections.
A copy of the Feb 2 order states that all payments made to the seven agencies under investigations have to be stalled and recovery be made till January 30. The order also asks to blacklist these errant contractors. Recovery of Rs 12.27 crore from a contractor in Songadh in Tapi district, Rs 27.95 crore from a contractor in city’s Prahladnagar and Rs 6.23 crore from another contractor having office on CG Road has been ordered. A contractor from Mehsana town is asked to pay back Rs 6.26 crore.