Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has urged the centre to allocate Rs 8,167 crore to facilitate the completion of Gosikhurd National Irrigation Project in Maharashtra.
The chief minister has indicated that the project will have to be completed within three years. Since it is a national project, the entire finances were to be provided by the Centre. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati have agreed to consider the state government’s demand for more funds for Gosikhurd project.
The primary concern of the chief minister relates to cost escalation if the project remains incomplete longer, depriving several lakh farmers who would have reaped a good harvest if 2.5 lakh hectares of land were irrigated. Sources said, “The chief minister convinced the centre to try and make a one time allocation for the national project to avoid further increase in project cost and also complications related to works of relief and rehabilitation of the project affected villagers.”
Till 2014-15, total amount invested in the project was Rs 8,000 crore. Unlike other irrigation projects, here there is plenty of water in the dam. However, due to incomplete work, the water cannot be availed for agriculture.
At a meeting held this week, the chief minister held a detailed review of the project and ordered release of Rs 240 crore for relief and rehabilitation works. Out of 85 villages, almost 35 were submerged and are relocated. But majority of the project hit families complain lack of basic infrastructure in relocated villages.
A senior official in the irrigation department said, “The number of families to be provided alternative mode of farming in relocated villages along with infrastructure is not more than 7,000. We have already paid compensation almost two times to more than 15,000 families in the past.” In 2009, centre reiterated its commitment to completely finance the Gosikhurd irrigation project as it was accorded the national status.
The project has been languishing for three decades. In 1984-85, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi laid the foundation stone for the work. The initial cost of the project was Rs 380 crore. In 2014, Congress-NCP government revised the project cost to Rs 7,984 crore. However, lack of funds was often cited as big hurdle in completion of the work.
The irrigation project along river Wainganga will benefit farmers across three districts of Bhandara, Nagpur and Chandrapur districts of Vidarbha. The land that would be covered under irrigation through this project in Bhandara (81,697 hectares): Nagpur (22,997 hectares) and Chandrapur (1,43,106 hectares).