The state government is set to increase by three-fold the cost of the Gosikhurd national irrigation project, from Rs 5,600 crore to Rs 18,472 crore.
In another key decision, the government has decided to scrap the contracts of 12 irrigation projects being probed by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB). These projects – across the Konkan, Marathwada and Vidarbha regions – are under probe for rule violations and financial irregularities during the Congress-NCP government between 1999 and 2014.
Both the proposals are expected to come up at the Cabinet meeting Tuesday. The cost revision of the Gosikhurd project, which has been languishing for the last 32 years, has become inevitable because of civil works and rehabilitation of project-affected people. The cost of the project, in Vidarbha’s Bhandara district, was revised to Rs 5,600 crore in 2007. But the Congress-NCP government failed to get the Cabinet’s nod for the cost escalation.
“The total cost of the Gosikhurd project has gone up to Rs 18,472 crore. Total investments in the project till date have been Rs 8,000 crore,” said a senior official in the water resources ministry.
After the Cabinet nod, the proposal would be sent to the Centre. Since it is a national project, 90 per cent of the cost is being shouldered by the Centre, the rest by the state government.
Once completed, it will benefit 2.5 lakh hectares of land across the three districts of Bhandara (81,697 hectares), Nagpur (22,997 hectares) and Chandrapur (1,43, 106 hectares).
Interestingly, as the project remains incomplete, lakhs of farmers, despite the availability of water, are not being able to irrigate their lands in the absence of canals to carry water to the fields.
In 1984, late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had given approval to the project. The project cost was Rs 380 crore then and required relocation and rehabilitation of families across 35 villages.