NCP chief Sharad Pawar Saturday expressed concerns over the state’s low irrigation potential at 17 per cent compared to the national average of 40 per cent. Addressing the party workers in Mumbai, Pawar outlined the achievements and shortcomings of the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra.
Claiming that Maharashtra performed much better compared to Gujarat in all critical sectors, he said they still had many miles to go.
“The irrigation potential of Maharashtra is just 17 per cent and the national average is 40 per cent. It is not enough to build big dams. The government will have to also concentrate on smaller water conservation projects to enhance the irrigation potential in Maharashtra,” said Pawar.
Irrigation has remained the most controversial issue in the Congress-NCP government. While Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has maintained that the state’s irrigation potential is 17.9 per cent, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar and former water resources minister Sunil Tatkare had been asserting that it was 23 per cent. The dispute between allies Congress and NCP was related to the statistics mentioned in the Maharashtra Economic Survey, which registered 0.1 per cent growth in the irrigation sector in the last 10 years.
Tatkare had dismissed the survey findings, arguing that the actual figure was 23 per cent and that the state saw a 5 per cent growth in 10 years. Sharad Pawar’s mention of 17 per cent now vindicates Chavan’s stand.
A senior Congress leader said: “I am glad Sharad Pawar saheb has acknowledged that irrigation potential is just 17 per cent, which has been the stand taken by our CM.”
State BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis said: “I am glad that even Sharad Pawar has expressed his concerns over just 17 per cent growth…and felt more needs to be done. It is for Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkre to explain what went wrong in the sector…”