The state is set to launch the third phase of its flagship project, Jalyukta Shivar, from November. The government aims to cover 12,514 drought-prone villages under the scheme this time, and make them water-sufficient.
In the first two phases, a total of 11,486 villages have seen 2.4 lakh projects being taken up to make them drought-free in less than two years.
Maharashtra has identified 24,000 villages falling under varying degrees of drought across Marathwada, Vidarbha, parts of Western Maharashtra and North Maharashtra. The government has set an ambitious target of making the state drought-free by 2018.
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“So far, we have received several hundred proposals from elected members and panchayats of areas covered under the first phases of the project, pushing for water conservation works in their regions,” said an official in the ministry of water conservation.
While the first two phases were for villages in the districts where the drought situation is critical, the third will focus on those under the shadow of drought.
In the 14 districts in which maximum famers suicides have been reported, officials have been asked to submit a list of works to be taken up in the third phase. The state government wants to ensure that every village in these 14 districts becomes water neutral. For this, along with the Jalyukta Shivar, a separate project will also be financed from the chief minister’s relief funds, officials said.
The district collector of Osmanabad, Prashant Narnavre, said, “After the end of the first phase and will now in the ongoing second phase, we have declared 83 villages water neutral.” Among the worst drought-hit districts, Osmanabad launched the Jalyukta Shivar in 408 villages out of the total 737.
“Before declaring a village water neutral, we have to ensure parameters such as completion of projects, water budget, increase in ground water table and strengthening of the main water sources are met,” said Narnavre.