Irrigation department misusing project budget

Kathmandu, April 14

The Department of Irrigation has failed to implement a majority of projects even after conducting feasibility studies for those projects. According to the 56th annual report of the Office of Auditor General (OAG), department has implemented only 26 irrigation projects out of 189 projects that were included in annual programmes of the department.

“The department did not prioritise the projects that had already completed the feasibility study while it implemented a few projects without having any feasibility study.

Thus, the department has misused the budget allocated for the feasibility studies of projects,” reads the report.

Besides the 26 projects that the department has implemented, it has spent a total of Rs 35 million for feasibility studies of the remaining projects. And despite the feasibility studies being positive the projects were not implemented.

Meanwhile, the department has also misused its budget by hiring advisers for the works that the department itself is responsible for.

“Designing, amending and implementing the policies are the works that come under the responsibility of the department.

However, the department has been found to be hiring human resources from outside and paid around Rs 1.7 million to do these works, which is not justifiable,” reads the report.

Similarly, Irrigation Development Division of Mustang has paid four contractor firms an amount worth Rs 9.1 million without conducting any concrete cube and tensile test of the projects that the respective companies had implemented.

Likewise, Irrigation Development Division of Dang has also paid around Rs 510 million to contractor companies without conducting any quality test of the projects that were implemented.

However, Public Procurement Regulation 2064 has mentioned that no payment should be cleared to contractor firms without first conducting the quality test. Thus, the report has mentioned that the department has misused the budget in such projects.

Meanwhile, 182 irrigation projects across the country are still to be handed over to consumer committees. In such a situation the department itself has to spend on maintenance and preservation of the projects for which the department has spent a total of Rs 1.24 billion so far. The practice is that the consumer committees are responsible for handling maintenance and preservation works of the projects after the projects are handed over to such committees but the department is still to hand over the projects.

“Such irresponsible activities related to irrigation directly affects the development of the agricultural sector,” added the report.