The state government has sought the Centre’s intervention in taking ahead the Rs 6,000-crore Tapi River Recharge Irrigation Project which involves the three states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. The project, touted as Asia’s biggest water recharge project, is being pursued by Maharashtra to address the water scarcity.
The project, to be undertaken by the Tapi Irrigation Development Corporation (TIDC), is being pushed as a suitable alternative to big dams that would require displacement of villages which is more complicated. This project will emphasise on percolation of underground water and maximising the use of surplus water, which runs into the Arabian Sea to increase water tables in drought-stricken villages.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held a meeting with Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti. The Centre has in principle given its consent for the project. However, a meeting between representatives of the three states and the Ministry of Water Resources is expected at the end of this month.
Fadnavis said, “The project, when completed, would alter the agro-economics of North Maharashtra and Vidarbha. The project would help to recharge water tables in villages reeling under drought. It would also help us to maximise the use of surplus river water, which remain untapped, to optimise the irrigation potential.”
According to state Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan, “The Tapi recharge project would lead to 80 TMC water to percolate into the ground. It would automatically raise water tables, thus helping us to tackle water scarcity in the drought-hit districts of North Maharashtra and Vidarbha.” The districts expected to reap the benefits include Jalgaon, Nashik, Nandurbar, Dhule, Washim, Buldhana, Akola and Amravati.
An official in the know of things said, “Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is keen on expediting the project as it also goes a long way in addressing water problems in his state.” Tapi, which originates from Multai village in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, flows through the Satpura range criss-crossing several districts of North Maharashtra and Vidarbha, before moving onto Surat in Gujarat.
A TIDC official said, “The project will bring four lakh hectares under irrigation. Unlike other irrigation projects, there is no expenditure incurred on addressing the problems of displaced villages. However, the overall project cost of Rs 6,000 crore would have to be worked with the Centre, as the state does not have adequate funds.”
Sources said that the earlier dam project was scrapped as it would have led to displacement of 70 villages, besides submerging vast stretches of fertile land.