The state government has decided to overhaul and use 1,200 KT weirs for water conservation and regulation to bring 2.5 lakh hectares of land under irrigation. The decision is in line with the concept of maximising available resources with minimum expenditure to reach a larger population in the agriculture sector.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has given the nod to the ministry of water resources to begin the KT (Kolhapur Type) weir drive which would require support from local leaders and people’s participation to manage the structures, most of which are either abandoned or are non-functional.
Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan has written letters to members of the state legislature, members of parliament and guardian ministers seeking their help to identity KT weirs in their respective constituencies and districts which would require repairs to become fully operational. KT weirs operate like gates and are used to regulate the water flow along dams, rivers or barrages in irrigation projects. Over the years, these structures have been damaged.
According to a senior officer in the ministry, “The cost of repairing 1,200 K T weirs would not exceed Rs 150 crore. But when they become fully operational they would save 56 TMC water which would help irrigate 2.30 lakh hectares of agriculture land.”
The argument is that if they were to build a new irrigation project to store 56 TMC water, it would cost more. Moreover, every project would require a minimum three to five years of completion period. In a clear departure from the past where impetus was given to new irrigation projects instead of investing in existing structures, the government has decided to revive existing structures to bring optimum gains in irrigation of agriculture land.
The water resources department, which has a budget of Rs 864 crore for maintenance of irrigation projects, is willing to shell an amount for the overhaul of KT weirs. The department also noted that there are large number of cases reported about theft in the irrigation projects. The gates, metallic needles which are used in the structures, are often dismantled and taken away by thieves.
Since every irrigation project cannot be monitored round-the-clock across 40,913 villages, the government believes people have to be sensitised. Therefore, an awareness campaign will be launched from August 15. The concept is to seek greater participation of the people and inculcate the spirit of ownership of each and every irrigation project.
The department feels that plugging the water loss is the foremost task which will be assigned to every district officials across Vidarbha, Marathwada, north Maharashtra, western Maharashtra and Konkan.