The state government’s decision, in a special cabinet meeting, to sanction Rs 9,291 crore for irrigation projects is likely to bring 1,13,959 hectares under irrigation in drought-prone Marathwada. Completion of these irrigation projects is estimated to help more than 30 lakh farmers. All eight districts of Marathwada —Latur, Osmanabad, Nanded, Beed, Jalna, Hingoli, Parbhani and Aurangabad — are drought prone.
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The approval of funds for three projects, Lower Dudhna (Rs 819 crore), Nandur Madhmenshwar (Rs 894 crore) and Krishna Valley Development Corporation phase I (Rs 4800 crore) account for Rs 6,513 crore. While Lower Dudhna and Nandur Madhmeshwar works is likely to be completed in two years, KVDC phase I will take four years to yield optimum results. Other projects include Urdva Painganga worth Rs 1730 crore and 38 pending projects worth Rs 1048 crore to be completed in two years. The special development package for Marathwada laid special emphasis on enhancing irrigation potential in the drought-prone region.
It has evolved district wise model of water conservation to tackle drought and increase irrigation. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The plan is aimed at optimising the irrigation potential in every district in Marathwada. Apart from three mega projects, 36,500 private wells and 25,000 farm ponds will work to farmers advantage.”
Citing an example, he said, “At Hingoli, we found that water table is comparatively better. Instead of planning irrigation projects, it was felt that promoting wells for irrigation would help farmers better. As a result we have sanctioned 10,000 irrigation wells.” The Nimma Dudhna irrigation project work in Selu taluka in Parbhani included under the Prime Minister’s Sinchan Yojna (PMSY) will be completed by 2018. The districts of Jalna and Parbhani will benefit the most as 34,438 hectares of land will come under irrigation. The study shows that irrigation potential would stretch upto 53,379 hectares. Apart from agriculture, the project will help industries and fisheries in the districts, and enhance supply of drinking water.
According to an irrigation official, “The Nimma Dudhna has remained incomplete with massive cost overrun since ten years. More than a decade ago, the project cost was Rs 1,025.78 crore. Despite cost revision, it remained incomplete. At present the total project cost works to Rs 2,341. 67 crore.” The chief minister warned that the project should be completed within the given time line and there should be no thin spreading of resources.
Nandur Madhmeshwar irrigation project under Godavari Irrigation Development Corporation, will bring 45,576 hectares of land under irrigation. It includes 1716 hectares in Nashik district, 1562 hectares in Ahmednagar (western Maharashtra) and 42,298 hectares in Aurangabad. The project at Rs 1344.29 crore was given approval in 2002-03 at Rs 866 crore. However, despite financial investments during the previous Congress-NCP government, it remained incomplete and non-operational.
At a special cabinet meeting, the chief minister indicated that irrigation projects would be accorded the highest priority. The Krishna Valley Irrigation Corporation phase I, for which Rs 4800 crore have been sanctioned, will help Beed and Osmanabad districts. The project, which would be completed in four years, will bring 25,798 hectares under irrigation in Osmanabad and 8147 hectares in Beed. Drinking water problems of nine talukas covering 288 villages will be resolved.