The state government’s flagship project “Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan” has brought 15 lakh hectares of land under irrigation in the last 15 months in the drought-hit districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha.
On January 26, 2015, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had launched the “Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan”, setting a target of bringing at least 25 lakh hectares of land under irrigation in three phases between 2015 and 2018. Preliminary reports across the drought-hit districts, where the project was undertaken on a mammoth scale, shows that “out of 25 lakh hectares, the work so far has helped bring 15 lakh hectares under irrigation. Thus, showing a 60 per cent achievement in just 15 months”.
The audit report of the total work completed and how much land will get irrigated shows results that surpass the target set by the state government.
A highly placed source told The Indian Express, “Almost all 14 drought-hit districts have shown remarkable progress ahead of the target. Good monsoon will help us bring larger irrigation stretches under agriculture, especially in Marathwada and Vidarbha.”
Fadnavis has been monitoring its progress almost every week. And every three months, there have been course corrections to expedite work.
When the project was launched, 25,000 villages out of a total of 40,000 villages were shortlisted for the jalyukta shivar in three phases to be completed by 2018. In the first phase (2015-16), 6,200 villages saw 1.20 lakh projects. In the second phase, 5,500 villages with 80,000 works were taken up by the state government along with various non-government organisations. However, gradually, individual village gram panchayats and elected members (MLAs) came forward, suggesting they would prefer to simultaneously take up jalyukta shivar work in their respective villages or districts.
Initially, work related to jalyukta shivar was confined to desilting of rivers and ponds, and reconstruction of small canals, among others.
In March 2016, Fadnavis launched another scheme as part of drought mitigation to supplement the ongoing works called “Magel Tyala Shettal” farm ponds.
A farmer had to apply online for seeking a farm pond for which the government provided Rs 50,000. Online applications received till now has crossed 1.25 lakh. Four months saw completion of almost 75,000 farm ponds.
At successive review meetings on drought-mitigation plans, Fadnavis had emphasised on completion of water conservation projects on priority to avail the rainfall in the next three to four months in the drought-hit region. The emphasis on farm ponds was to facilitate the farmers to cultivate at least one crop even in the worst dry spell.
During his drought tour to Latur, Fadnavis was surprised to see standing crops in the middle of barren land across the village. When asked what was the secret, a farmer said, “I have a farm pond. The pre-monsoon showers helped us store some water. And we used it for cultivating the crops.”
As part of assured irrigation, 35,000 wells have been completed. The target is to complete one lakh wells in the next three years.