The Maharashtra government has set an ambitious target to bring 25 lakh hectares of land under irrigation in the next three years under Jalyukta Shivar projects in 18,000 villages. It has also set a target to take the irrigation potential from 18 to 41 per cent by 2019. At the end of one year of his government in Maharashtra, an audit report carried out for 6,200 villages where water conservation projects under the Jalyukta Shivar scheme were launched has said results are satisfactory.
The total work done under the scheme includes compartment bunding across 4,62,518 hectares, recharge of 21,221 wells, and de-silting (ponds, rivers) on 338.71 lakh cubic metres. Work is also being done on farm ponds and revival of old water bodies.
“In less than eight months, we have concluded 1.2 lakh Jalyukta Shivar works in 6,200 villages. It has helped us bring 6 lakh hectares under irrigation at a cost of Rs 1,400 crore,” said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. He acknowledged that there would be some corrective measures to improve the projects.
Citing an example of the works done in backward tribal district of Nandurbar, Fadnavis said, “The audit of works undertaken in this single district has helped us bring 16,000 hectares under irrigation. Unfortunately, this time we did not have good monsoon. Yet, wherever there were return rains or intermittent rainfall, the water conservation bodies have helped store water that would be useful later.”
In the first phase of the project, almost all eight districts of Marathwada and six of Vidarbha have been covered, apart from some parts of north and west Maharashtra. There are, however, challenges as 52 per cent of the total land is under drought in Maharashtra. The audit report of the first phase says display of project cost and time at the venue ensured every individual could do self-audit and bring to notice any discrepancy. Fadnavis said, “In the beginning, we just kept Rs 1,000 crore for the project. But it was a pleasant surprise when we received Rs 300 crore from villages. It was an eyeopener for the administration as it somewhere reflected villagers’ ability to connect and participate in the work.”
For 2016-17, Fadnavis said, there would be higher allocations for three phases to be simultaneously rolled out in all 18,000 villages. The state budget will be between Rs 4,500 and Rs 5,000 crore, it will also involve bigger projects like de-silting and widening of rivers. In Solapur, total projects completed in one year are 20,413, accounting for almost one sixth of the total works carried out across the state. District Collector Tukaram Mundhe said, “The pace of work was extremely satisfying as it also involved the help of local villagers and gram panchayats.”