The state government will conduct an audit exercise to find out the status of rehabilitation of people affected by irrigation projects since the 1960s across Maharashtra. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has directed the irrigation ministry to rehabilitate families left out of the process on priority and provide basic amenities to villagers who relocated after their land was acquired for irrigation projects.
A highly placed source said, “Over 2 lakh families have been affected by shoddy or incomplete rehabilitation.” There was no concrete data to ascertain how many projected affected people (PAP) are awaiting rehabilitation and the numbers available are based on statistics compiled by non-government organisations or locals, sources revealed.
Sources said the CM has instructed officials to ensure no projects are stuck because of shoddy or incomplete rehabilitation.
Fadnavis issued directives to the department to ensure the PAP model is first worked out and implemented before going ahead with any irrigation project. A senior officer revealed, “Till now our approach was to sanction irrigation projects after working out cost. Relief and rehab package for those affected would be undertaken simultaneously. In almost one-third of the works completed there are unresolved disputes related to relief and rehabilitation.”
Citing an example, the official said Koyna dam had affected 27,000 families and rehabilitation of 1,500 families is not completed. There are similar complaints from people affected by Warna dam in Sangli-Kolhapur, Teen Vira in Raigad, Tembhapuri in Aurangabad and Dhamein in Kolhapur.
Maharashtra has spent over Rs 70,000 crore in irrigation projects across the state so far.
Last fortnight, Fadnavis visited Bhandara and Yavatmal to review irrigation projects and the status of PAPs. In Bhandara, Gosikhurd National Irrigation Project was approved 30 years ago but even today there are villages unhappy with rehabilitation.
Fadnavis talked to the villagers whose main complaint was lack of basic amenities in relocated areas.
Sources said, “The chief minister has given directives to officials to ensure projects are not stuck because of incomplete or shoddy rehabilitation of project affected people.”
They added that in a shift from policies pursued during the Congress-NCP regime, the project will not be considered complete unless PAPs are settled and when villagers are relocated, they have to be provided basic amenities and a source of livelihood.