Piped water supply systems will be used more extensively in Maharashtra to carry dam water to farms. Faced with a severe drought, the Maharashtra Cabinet on Tuesday adopted a policy for promoting micro irrigation and piped water supply.
The government has claimed that the initiative would bring down the extent of non-revenue water by nearly 35 per cent, while reducing costs incurred on conveying irrigation water to farm lands.
The move follows a directive from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had directed the chief minister to increase water use efficiency through drip and micro irrigation methods.
“The need to acquire land for canals and distributaries will be reduced bringing down costs significantly,” said Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan. “The new regime would also lead to a more equitable distribution of water,” he said.
Following the Cabinet’s decision, piped systems will replace open canals and distributaries as source of dam water distribution for all future projects. The government has also decided to apply the norm to projects where the water distribution systems were partially built.
The new policy also makes appointment of water distribution committees to regulate supply in the command area of a dam. A management committee comprising experts and government functionaries will evolve broad guidelines for water distribution, on the basis of which a detailed water distribution plan will be evolved for each dam project, senior officials said. The responsibility for designing and ratifying a distribution network has been entrusted on the Nashik-based Maharashtra Engineering Research Institute. The new policy would also put the onus on the contractor for overseeing repairs and maintenance of a distribution network for the first three years.
Incidentally, Shiv Sena’s Minister of State (Water Resources), who has been pushing this initiative, was not a part of the discussion. In fact sources said his office wasn’t even kept in the loop. Meanwhile, the state Cabinet also approved the reconstitution of the Maharashtra Water Resource Regulatory Authority. An economist, a geologist, and a legal luminary would also be a part of the five member authority, which would be headed by the chief secretary or a retired High Court judge.