Maharashtra will be the first state to evolve an integrated water plan which will include inter-river basin water transfer for balanced regional development through equitable water allocation to drought-prone districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has set a December 31, 2017 deadline for Integrated State Water Plan across five river basins of Godavari, Tapi, Krishna, Narmada and western flowing rivers.
The plan is also aimed at minimising the regional conflict over water share and ensuring equitable allocation of water for multiple use, with the highest priority for drinking and agriculture. The inter-basin water transfer, wherever it is geographically and economically viable, is also part of the sustainable water resource management.
Specific timelines have been issued to each river basin to complete its comprehensive plan on water development and distribution. Each plan built on five parameters will include structural measures, operational measures, watershed management and demand management. From water scarcity projections to conservation measures through technology it will outline the regional requirements and its distribution to multiple users.
While the primary objective is to tackle drought/water scarcity through efficient management of available resources, each river basin has been asked to submit its plan in the stipulated time to the state water council which will be the final approving authority.
A senior secretary associated with the planning and execution of the plan said, “Maharashtra will become the first state to take up such a mammoth exercise of integrating five major river basins for better coordination and disbursement of water.” He also noted that the water plan remained on hold between 2005 and 2014 as Congress-NCP government did not convene a single meeting of the State Water Council. Whereas, between October 2014 and April 2017, eight meetings have taken place to take the project ahead in a time-bound manner.
The Godavari river basin plan spread across Vidarbha and Marathwada will have to get the council approval by July 30, 2017. Whereas, Krishna, Tapi, Narmada and western flowing river basins have been asked to come out with their plan for approval by October 10, 2017, paving the way for overall integrated state water plan, clubbing all five river basins, by December 31, 2017.
According to Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, out of the total 225 lakh hectares of cultivable land in the state, almost 40 per cent are severely drought-prone. Of the total five river basins, 55 per cent dependable yield is confined to four river basins, namely Godavari, Krishna, Tapi and Narmada. More than 60 per cent of the rural population depend on these river basin for livelihood through agriculture.
Each river basin’s permissible use of water as per the tribunal award committee is as follows: Godawari (34,185mm3); Tapi (5,415mm3); Narmada (308mm3); Krishna (16,818mm3); West flowing rivers (69,210mm3). The total permissible use is 12,5936 mm3.
Interestingly, almost 45 percent of state water resources is confined to west flowing rivers which are monsoon dependent and emerge from ghats to flow into the Arabian Sea.
Along with the consolidated state water plan, the government has also ensured that every plan should factor in anti-pollution measures.
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