THE STATE government on Tuesday gave the Rs 16,000-crore Marathwada Water Grid project a go ahead despite opposition raised by a section of water policy experts.
Aimed at promoting water security and optimal use of water in the drought-prone region, the Cabinet sanctioned the first phase of the project, which will involve laying of 1078.61 km of pipeline network and treatment plants in Beed district at a cost of Rs 4,802 crore. The Cabinet also sought proposals for contracts to be awarded for laying a similar water distribution network for Aurangabad and Jalna.
The project basically proposes to set up a loop of water pipeline and pumping system that would enable carrying of water from water-surplus dams to areas serviced by reservoirs with low storage levels.
Following the Cabinet nod, officials said that the tenders for appointment of the concessionaire for the first phase will now be floated. To be developed on Hybrid Annuity Basis, the project will see the concessionaire raises up to 60 per cent of the cost, while the state government will be responsible to release the remaining sum in annual installments.
Israel’s national water supply company, Mekorot, which has been roped in as the project’s consultant, has drawn up detailed reports on the anticipated demand district-wise for Beed and is in the process of doing the same for the other regions.
A group of water and irrigation sector experts had earlier written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis opposing the project and questioning whether it was warranted at all.
In another decision, the Cabinet agreed to make more money available to various irrigation development corporations to facilitate the maintenance and repairs of 3,000 dams and 1 lakh km of canal network.