Water conservationist and Stockholm Water Prize winner Dr Rajendra Singh Thursday cautioned the Maharashtra government about the Jalyukt Shivar Yojana becoming contract-driven. Singh, who has been visiting the villages where the scheme has begun in full swing, said at a speech in Mumbai University that he has already conveyed his concerns to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
“I think it is a significant project for its focus on the community coming together. I have heard that in some places the Yojana is being handled by contractors. Even if there are contractors appointed, it needs to have strong community control for transparent running,” Singh told The Indian Express.
He also said that the budget allocated to the scheme is quite less. The scheme, advocated as a flagship programme by the CM, has been initiated in 6,200 villages so far. The government has contributed Rs 1,000 crore for its first phase, with an additional Rs 400 crore having come from community funds and CSR.
Singh, who was in the city for the Reframing the Environment: Resources, Risk and Resistance in Neoliberal India seminar organised by the Department of Sociology, Mumbai University, also said that the state’s water situation is staring at a disaster.
“The state’s rain pattern has no relation with its crop pattern. Marathwada, which receives 200-300mm rainfall, has over 15 sugar factories and it seems that nothing is being done about it. Since independence, many agriculture ministers have come from the state with 40 per cent of the dams in the country built here. Yet, the most number of farmer suicides also are from the same state. How can this be called development,” he said in his plenary speech on Thursday.
Singh, who is known for reviving the age-old practice of rain water storage tanks or johads, has helped revive rivers in the arid state of Rajasthan. Also known as the ‘waterman of India’, Singh has been traveling across 17 countries in the past year to raise awareness about water rights.
Commenting on COP21, he said that dialogue between the countries has become a ‘green business’. “The focus has become climate mitigation while the focus needs to be climate adaptation where each country finds ways to adapt in ways possible against climate change,” he said.
On the debate about environment vs development when expanding infrastructure in a city like Mumbai, Singh said that the model at play in Mumbai will not survive for long. “Cities like Mumbai are red spots of climate change. This has to stop and we need to move towards sustainable development,” Singh said.
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