The Maharashtra government has decided to extend the second phase of its flagship programme Jalyukta Shivar from 5,500 village to 6,500 villages, with gram panchayats mounting pressure on the government to consider the projects in their regions before monsoons.
District collectors have been told to be flexible in accommodating gram panchayats that have sent proposals to the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) for the ongoing Jalyukta Shivar schemes. The chief minister has also urged them to relax the guidelines to open up more fodder camps and deploy more tankers to ensure sustained supply of water in the villages, sources said.
In the 2016-17 budget, the state allocated Rs 1,000 crore for water conservation projects. But pressure from villages to expand the schemes would mean greater financial allocations.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that in several cases, villagers are ready to raise funds and provide all physical resources required to take the projects ahead, with the help of the district administrations.
The villagers believe that once the monsoon sets in, additional water structures would be very helpful.
The Indian Railways, meanwhile, said they would provide necessary help to sustain water supply in drought-hit districts, such as Latur, through trains for the next two to three months.
At the end of the first phase of Jalyukta Shivar — for which an expenditure of Rs 1,600 crore was incurred — an estimated 24 TMC of additional water capacity has been created.
As a result, the government believes that moderate rains would help sustain agriculture activities across 2.5 lakh hectare of fields in 6,200 villages across Marathwada, Vidarbha, parts of Western and North Maharashtra.
Government officials also said that well recharge and farm ponds on demand would go a long way in mitigating the problems of drought in Maharashtra.