About 2,407 km of streams have been widened and deepened in the state under the government’s flagship Jalyukta Shivar scheme. Another heartening story that official records reveal is, about one-third of this work — 812 km — has been carried out with funds contributed by the community.
For a better perspective on the extent of the work carried out, the Mithi river in Mumbai runs along an 18-km length. This means, deepening and widening of streams equal to about 134 times the size of the Mithi river has been carried out so far.
Faced with a third consecutive drought spell in four years, Maharashtra had rolled out the statewide scheme as a drought-proofing measure on January 26, 2015. With monsoon now knocking on the state’s doors, official records reveal that water conservation initiatives totalling Rs 2,470 crore have been undertaken so far. Besides deepening and widening of streams, the scheme also involves construction of cement and earthen stop dams, training of nullahs and digging of farm ponds.
An interesting factoid is that Solapur in Southern Maharashtra (Rs 252.06 crore) and Ahmednagar in Northern Maharashtra (Rs 174.74 crore) have outpaced Marathwada districts such as Beed (Rs 80 crore), Latur (Rs 153.87 crore) and Osmanabad (Rs 125.86 crore), where the drought fury was severest. In fact, Beed, which is also the native district of Water Conservation Minister Pankaja Munde, ranks 11th among the 34 districts where the scheme is being implemented on the scale of expenditure incurred on Jalyukta Shivar initiatives.
Solapur has spent the most on these initiatives followed by Ahmednagar and Latur. Pune ranks fourth best on this count with works totalling Rs 133.80 crore taken up followed by Osmanabad.
The Marathwada region collectively has witnessed Rs 604.09 crore worth drought-proofing works so far, followed by Western and Southern Maharashtra region at Rs 581.57 crore. Northern Maharashtra has seen Rs 507.62 crore worth projects, whereas Vidarbha’s Amravati division has so far taken up Rs 352.22-crore works.
A senior official, who wished not to be named since he is not authorised to speak to media, said a general trend being noticed was areas where officials at the Collector level were more proactive had managed to speed up project work under the scheme.
While the target for the first year is to drought-proof at least 5,000 villages, records show that projects have been taken up in 6,202 villages across Maharashtra. “About 2.09 lakh works were taken up. Of this, about 1.73 lakh have been completed,” a senior official said.
Meanwhile, the government plans to make treatment and forestation of areas near the mouth and the channel of the stream.