THE GOVERNMENT on Friday announced a Rs 5,000-crore irrigation project to tackle drought in eight Vidarbha districts. The surplus water flowing to Telangana from Wainganga river will be used to address drought in Vidarbha, said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
For this purpose, a 480-km tunnel will be built, which will channelise the water towards Wardha, Yavatmal, Akola, Amravati, Buldhana, Washim, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli districts. “The project will end water problems and enhance the irrigation potential in Vidarbha,” the CM said while his Mahajanadesh Yatra was passing through Wardha.
The cotton growing belt has registered maximum number of farmer suicides in the last three decades. Earlier, the state government had taken up a similar tunnel project to tackle drought in eight districts of Marathwada. As many as 167 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) water flowing from Godavari was channelised to cater to the eight districts.
“It is our sincere endeavour to ensure water for irrigation in Vidarbha. We are focusing on infusing higher capital both in irrigation and agriculture sectors,” Fadnavis said while adding that the project will provide 100 TMC water to these eight districts.
The government has ordered a survey for the project. “The decision to adopt tunnel mechanism is to avoid the complexities of land acquisition and rehabilitation. Through the tunnel project, the government also intends to minimise the problems of water leakages and evaporation,” the CM said. In last five years, the Centre and the state have approved Rs 20,000 crore for irrigation projects. Of these, 99 projects were for Vidarbha, he added.
Under the Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, 26 irrigation projects have been enlisted on priority and the 14 distressed districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada had received Rs 10,800 crore aid for irrigation works. On Rs 18,000-crore Gosikhurd National Irrigation Project still lying incomplete even after 32 years, Fadnavis said: “In the last five years, we gave the Gosikhurd project the highest priority. The project will be completed by 2019-20 and bring 2.5 lakh hectares under irrigation.”
He added that the project has already increased irrigation area from 4,000 to 50,000 hectares. Bhandara, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli districts would benefit the most.