IF all goes as per the state government plans,there will be more than one lakh cement check dams built across the state in the next three years in order to bring more land under irrigation.
Making a formal announcement Tuesday,Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said it would cost the state government Rs 35,000 crore to build these cost-effective and efficient structures. He said additional funds would be sought from the Centre.We have demanded around Rs 25,000 crore from the Centre. Thus,around Rs 60,000 crore will be spent on building cement check dams over the next three years, he said,lauding the success of such check dams that have been constructed in some talukas of drought-hit districts of Maharashtra.
Measures such as building around 3.5 lakh field tanks and repair of percolation tanks also tops the priorities of the government,the CM said.
Speaking as a chief guest at the symposium on sustainable measures for developing water resources,organised by Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics,Chavan stressed on the need for extensively employing the drip-irrigation technique in Maharashtra for the water intensive crop of sugarcane.
Chavan also linked issuing crushing licenses to sugar-mills with drip irrigation techniques by farmers,saying that stringent measures such as holding back licenses could be considered by next year if factories fail to promote the techniques.
Citing the example of Solapur district,where he said acute water shortage prevails during most of the year,due to the large area engaged under sugarcane cultivation using a traditional irrigation system. Solapur district has 28 sugar-mills,the highest in any single district in India. Many parts of the district face water scarcity as farmers opt for water intensive sugarcane crops using traditional irrigation methods, he said,adding that water distribution norms for sugarcane fields invariably get sidelined.
Giving a broad overview of the irrigation sector,Chavan reiterated that the state has around 18 percent land under irrigation,which is far below other states like Punjab,Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. One of the biggest challenge before the government is to bring rain-fed agriculture under sustainable irrigation. Agricultural land has gradually been getting lost to rapid urbanisation,and this too has to be prevented, he said.
Drawing parallels between Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRA) and Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC),Chavan said the latter is functions better owing to its set up along the lines of a central level empowered panel.