The water resources department is chalking out an integrated water management plan and has set a target of bringing around 37.52 lakh hectares under micro-irrigation by 2030. Currently, micro-irrigation covers 3.25 lakh hectares in the area of Godavari basin in the state and the plan envisages diversion of water from major water bodies in western region to tackle water scarcity in villages in drought-prone Marathwada, parts of western Maharashtra and North Maharashtra. At the second Water Council meeting on Thursday, several critical aspects related to water management and agriculture were discussed for almost four hours.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis chaired the meeting and expressed unhappiness over several shortcomings in the draft proposal. He said, “The draft should not read like a lifeless compilation of statistics. I want an integrated comprehensive plan that would consider water management in Godavari and other river basins, agriculture, changes in crop pattern.”
The chief minister constituted a committee of water and agricultural experts and officials to prepare a proposal in three months for final approval and immediate implementation. Fadnavis has reiterated that pace of work will have to be expedited as these are projects promising larger public welfare.
The marathon meeting attended by senior officials of the ministry of water resources and ministry of agriculture remained inconclusive.
A senior officer said, “The chief minister emphasised on integrated proposal for aspects covering agriculture, revenue, finance, water resources. Some issues he reflected remained unexplained in the draft proposal.”
“When we talk of enhancing irrigation area from 3.25 lakh hectares (2015) to 37.52 lakh hectares (2030), we have to back it up with finance and technology,” said the official.
Plugging the 22 to 40 per cent leakage from water bodies through effective water management is part of the proposal. The chief minister said, “We will have to incorporate the methodology for integrated water plan for all river basins across the state.”
Emphasis was on greater impetus to projects under Godavari Valley Development Corporation to recharge the shrinking water table, and linking of rivers. It was felt the state will have to evolve a district-wise water grid to cater to the rising demand for agriculture, industries and domestic purposes keeping in view requirements by 2030. Therefore, the proposal should make provisions for recycling and treatment of sewage water in urban and rural areas. Water management experts Pradeep Purandare, Vijay Paranjpee, D S Kulkarni and Bhingre attended the meeting.