February 7, 2021 2:07:10 am
THE STATE government and the Centre are working to resolve financial constraints that have left a major irrigation project such as Jigaon incomplete, by bringing it under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).
The initiative came at a recent meeting between Union minister Nitin Gadkari and state Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil. Gadkari said, “Apart from 26 irrigation projects shortlisted under PMKSY, we want to add a few more to expedite its work and resolve financial problems.” High on the list is Jigaon irrigation project.
Even after 23 years, the second biggest irrigation project Jigaon, in drought-hit district Buldhana in western Vidarbha region, has failed to make much headway. As a result, the promise of bringing one lakh hectares of land under irrigation is still a distant dream.
The status report on the project is a clear pointer that the Jigaon irrigation project is heading the same way as Gosikhurd national irrigation project, which has remained incomplete even after 32 years. Highly placed sources in Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC), which is the executing nodal agency under the water resources department, told The Indian Express, “Even if we start the work aggressively and annual allocation of Rs 1,960 crore is provided for the next three years along with adequate workforce, the project can bring only 40,000 hectares of land under irrigation.”
To make the project fully operational by bringing one lakh hectares under irrigation would require strong political will coupled with adequate resources, the sources added.
The sources also said, at present, nobody in VIDC or the water resources ministry were willing to bet on the new deadline, and that project had, so far, missed six deadlines.
The project was sanctioned in 1997 at a total cost of Rs 699 crore, which has now escalated to Rs 13,874 crore. The largest component is of Rs 4,900 crore required for land acquisition to relocate 30,000 families from 32 villages.
The state budget for 2020-21 has provided Rs 10,235 crore to the water resources department. According to the governor’s directives, Rs 1,500 crore has been reserved for works to tackle the irrigation backlog of 1.63 lakh hectares in four districts of Vidharba region, namely Buldhana, Akola, Washim and Amravati. An amount of of Rs 815 crore has been reserved for flood control and hydro-irrigation and command area. An allocation of Rs 850 crore has been provided for Krishna Marathwada Irrigation project, and Rs 500 crore for Gosikhurd and Rs 30 crore set aside for interstate irrigation project. The remaining budget of Rs 6,540 crore was for taking up incomplete irrigation works across the state. There are 313 works in different stages of completion.
Out of Rs 6,540 crore, the budget for irrigation projects in Vidarbha region is Rs 1,237.04 crore; Rs 1,613 crore for Marathwada and Rs 3,689.81 crore for the rest of the state.
If the state government requires special allocation of Rs 1,960 crore annually for Jigaon project, the entire allocation for Vidarbha will have to diverted for one project or funds from other regions. Now, under governor’s directives, any attempt to divert from one region to another for a project is not allowed. Any such proposal would require the governor’s consent.
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