Himachal Pradesh Govt. sewerage schemes had not been started due to a lack of planning for acquisition.

Out of 25 test-checked sewerage schemes only one scheme was completed after a delay of 205 months; 13 schemes were incomplete (delay: 18 to 230 months); and 11 schemes had not been started due to lack of planning for acquisition/ transfer of land; non-ensuring of encumbrance free land for laying of sewerage network; delay in preparation of DPRs; and lack of funds.

Execution of sewerage schemes
Sewerage schemes include schemes for providing sewerage systems (laying of sewerage network and construction of STPs) in towns, schemes for providing sewerage systems in left-out areas of towns, rejuvenation schemes (replacement of worn-out sewer lines, connecting missing links, and augmentation of STP capacity), and schemes for household connectivity (laying of sewer lines up to six meters of houses). Schemes are proposed by ULBs and approved by UDD on the basis of detailed project reports (DPRs) prepared/finalized by the IPH Department. Funds are released by UDD to ULBs for immediate onward release to the IPH Department for the execution of the schemes.

The detailed analysis (as of January 2019) of 25 sewerage schemes within the scope of the audit (i.e. period 2013-18 in the 16 test-checked ULBs) is shown in Table-2.2.2 below:

From the above table, it can be seen that out of a total of 25 schemes, only one scheme (Sundernagar – Sl. No. 5) was completed (delay: 205 months) while 13 schemes were incomplete (running delay: 18 to 230 months) and 11 schemes77 had not been started. The major causes of delay/ non-start of schemes were as follows:

• Lack of planning for land acquisition/ transfer
Land may be required to be acquired/ transferred for construction of STP, laying of main trunk line, etc. However, it was observed that the DPRs for the schemes did not specify any details about the total area and location of land to be acquired/ transferred. Only a lump-sum provision of fund requirement for land acquisition/ transfer was made, which in the absence of any detailed assessment/ survey, was unrealistic. As a result, there were cases of land dispute, unsuitable site selection, excess land acquisition, and litigation which led to running delays in three schemes as detailed below:
o Bilaspur (Sl. No. 7) – Details of land identified for STP construction was not specified in the DPR; BBMB 78 land was identified subsequently and transferred but later found to be submerged during site inspection; another site was identified and a case for transfer of land pending with BBMB; scheme had already delayed by 48 months but work had not been started; and
untreated sewage continued to flow into the Govind Sagar Lake.
o Hamirpur (Sl. No. 12) – Provision of Rs. 60 lakh in DPR was made for land acquisition without assessment/ specifying details of land to be acquired; the execution was started without land acquisition; land disputes arose during the laying of main trunk line; acquisition process was started subsequently but the scheme had already been delayed by 67 months.
o Solan (Sl. No. 9)– Unrealistic lump-sum provision of Rs. 10 lakh for the acquisition of land for STP was made; land acquired for Rs. 82 lakh; excess acquisition of land (46 percent); land disputes for enhanced compensation emerged during scheme execution; Court orders for enhanced compensation led to the payment of Rs. 17.82 crores to date.

• Lack of planning for encumbrance-free access for laying of sewerage network

Encumbrance-free access is required for laying of sewerage network as sewer lines are to be laid in densely-constructed areas involving private land. Although it is mandatory to leave setbacks on land during building construction, non-compliance by house-owners without action by ULBs results in the non-availability of space for services such as laying of sewer lines. However, these issues were not considered at the time of DPR preparation and the DPRs did not contain any details of survey/ feasibility study for identifying and addressing such bottlenecks. No mechanism such as obtaining NOC/ affidavits from landowners to ensure encumbrance-free access to private land for laying of sewer lines was envisaged. The above shortcomings resulted in a large number of land disputes resulting in the delay of 11 schemes.
• Delay in preparation and approval of DPRs
On the proposals submitted by ULBs, IPH Department prepares and submits DPRs to the UDD for approval of new sewerage schemes. For rejuvenation schemes, IPH Department itself initiates the projects and prepares DPRs for funding through UDD. It was observed that the process of preparation and approval of DPRs was taking an inordinately long time:
o For two schemes (Sl. No. 2 and 4), DPRs had not been prepared even after 17 and 38 months from the date of proposal.
o DPRs for three sewerage schemes (Sl. No. 7, 11, and 16) were approved 18 to 45 months after preparation.
o DPRs for four sewerage schemes (Sl. No. 1, 3, 13, and 14) prepared between November 2016 and February 2018 were pending approval even after 11 to 25 months (as of January 2019).
o The process of preparation of DPR in the case of Mandi (Sl. No. 17) was initiated by IPH Department after 80 months since the crossing the capacity of connections.

In this context, it was observed that the Department had not stipulated any timeframe for preparation/ approval of DPRs, thereby contributing to delays.

• Lack of funds
Three schemes (Sl. No. 5, 6, and 10) sanctioned between March 1992 and July 2014 remained incomplete/ delayed due to lack of funds. In Baddi, the State Government and ULB had not released their share while GoI had not released balance funds due to non-completion of the scheme within the stipulated period. IPH division Nalagarh had to incur an expenditure of Rs. 1.17 crore from other heads of account. In Chamba, the IPH division had incurred excess expenditure of Rs.1.46 crore from other heads while Rs. 0.25 crore was lying unutilized with the ULB. In Sundernagar, the IPH division had incurred excess expenditure of Rs. 0.16 crore from other heads while Rs. 0.50 crore was lying unutilized with the ULB.

The cases pointed out are based on the test check conducted by Audit. The Department may initiate action to examine similar cases and take necessary corrective action.

Recommendation: The State Government may ensure land acquisition/ transfer and availability of encumbrance-free land at the planning stage, stipulate a time frame for preparation and approval of DPRs, and provide adequate funding for schemes.

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