The Maharashtra government has issued directives for expediting ongoing works in the Gosikhurd National Irrigation Project and set a target of bringing 42,000 hectares of additional land under irrigation in Bhandara, Nagpur and Chandrapur districts of Vidarbha region by December. It has also set a target of bringing 2.5 lakh hectares under irrigation by 2020.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday held a review meeting to ascertain progress in the irrigation sector, specially the Rs 18,000-crore Gosikhurd National Irrigation Project. A senior official present at the meeting told The Indian Express: “Fadnavis indicated that work in Gosikhurd will have to be expedited to meet the deadline of 2020.”
The chief minister also expressed serious concerns over the failure of the administration to bring one-lakh hectares of land under irrigation in this project by now. Currently, 62,000 hectares have come under irrigation in the ongoing project.
When the project is completed and becomes operational, it would benefit 2.5 lakh hectares of land across Chandrapur (1,43,106 hectares), Nagpur (22,997 hectares) and Bhandara (81,697 hectares).
An official in the ministry of water resources said: “At present, the land covered under irrigation does not exceed 62,000 hectares.”
The Gosikhurd project, which got national irrigation status in 2009, was conceived in 1984. In the past 33 years, the project had been languishing due to hurdles like shoddy construction work and rehabilitation of affected people in villages. A senior officer in the water resources department said, “Issues related to relocation of five villages is pending. There are some issues related to land acquisition and providing basic amenities.”
Indicating that the government has already given three to four packages to the project affected people over the years, the officer said, “We are confident of completing the process in one year.”
The project cost estimated at Rs 380 crore (1985) was revised to Rs 16,167 crore (2014). In June 2017 the total project cost stands at Rs 18,000 crore. So far almost Rs 9,000 crore has been spent on the project.