The Maharashtra government has decided to provide financial assistance from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to villages in the 14 districts that have registered maximum farmer suicides. The pilot project would be taken up in 15 to 25 villages, essentially in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.
The special drive will be undertaken to provide immediate results to the villages reeling under water crisis. The aid will come from the funds collected for Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan.
Apart from this initiative, the second phase of the Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan for 5,000 villages spread across Marathwada, Vidarbha, parts of North and Western Maharashtra is already being rolled for implementation. The budget for 2016-17 has a special component of Rs 1,000 crore to carry out the water conservation projects in these 5,000 villages. At a meeting with district collectors across the state through video-conferencing, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis issued clear directives to expedite the Jalyukta Shivar projects with an emphasis on 50 per cent projects related to revival of the old water structures in villages.
“I have pledged to make Maharashtra drought free in the next four years. The integrated water management and conservation plans are being taken up in phases in drought-prone villages with great participation of people,” he said.
Apart from these, integrated projects through various departments, including the ministries of water resources, power, rural development, water conservation, and tribal welfare would be adopted to mitigate the drought situation across the state.
According to sources, the second phase of the flagship programme will be taken up on several platforms. The government has shortlisted the 5,000 villages according to the severity of drought. Apart from these villages, the government is also planning to take up projects in those villages where the gram panchayats and sabhas are coming forward to provide part finances to create water conservation projects in a time-bound manner. In December 2014, Fadnavis first declared the state government’s ambitious Jalyukta Shivar programme.
In the first phase, 6,200 villages were covered with 1.2 lakh projects in drought regions completed at a total expenditure was Rs 1,400 crore, bringing 6 lakh hectares of dry land under irrigation.
There are 25,000 villages, out of the total 40,000 villages in Maharashtra, which are drought hit. Fadnavis said, “Every project will have a deadline to meet, along with its budget. Therefore, we would be strictly monitoring its execution.”
The CM has urged district officials to rope in villagers and gram sabhas to undertake the old structures revival programmes, which are more economical and could be quick in delivering results.
The water conservation projects to be undertaken in second phase include river widening, construction of cement bunds, canals along the rivers, creation of farm ponds, deepining of nullahs. It also has taken up de-silting from the existing water bodies like rivers, village ponds and other sources to facilitate greater storage of rainwater.
Water recharge is being promoted on a massive scale to enhance the underground water table in drought districts, especially Latur, Beed, Jalna, Parbhani, Aurangabad and Osmanabad, all in Marathwada region. In Western Maharashtra, major work has been undertaken in the worst-hit Solapur district.