At a time when the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is planning to scrap the Jalyukta Shivar project, the Economic Survey report 2019-20 tabled by state Finance Minister Ajit Pawar in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday suggests as many as 19,655 villages have become drought-free in the last five years through 6.28 lakh works and the total expenditure of Rs 9,488 crore.
Jalyukta Shivar, which was initiated as its pet project by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government in 2015 to tackle drought, also created water storage capacity of 26.52 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) in the state.
The survey highlights that of the 25,000 villages selected for the project, 19,655 have yielded positive results. This means only 5,345 villages have failed to meet the project’s set target.
The Uddhav Thackeray government is planning to scrap the project, citing instances of corruption.
Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil said, “Our reservation to the scheme is on financial irregularities and violation of norms. Therefore, the government will probe the scheme.”
An official in the Water Conservation department said, “While instances of shoddy work or cost escalation in some work undertaken through Jalyukta Shivar cannot be ruled out, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government’s decision to scrap the project is a political move… There is a possibility they will launch the same scheme in another name.”
The Economic Survey states, “Almost 10,718 works incurring the total expenditure of Rs 617.67 crore was through public participation to Jalyukta Shivar.”
Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said, “The success of Jalyukta Shivar is due to the support of common villagers. It had become a water movement. The drought-striken villagers saw individuals raising funds to drive the scheme.”
Meanwhile, the Economic Survey highlights that another scheme, Farm Pond on Demand, launched by the Fadnavis government to provide sustainable and protective irrigation facility to the critical stage of growing crops has also helped in increasing productivity.
Water management expert, Prof Rajendra Singh, who was involved in Jalyukta Shivar initially, said, “The flaws are not in the scheme but its implementation. The government should ensure strict monitoring mechanism and ensure it is not left in the hands of contractors, whose sole concern is profit-making.”
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