At a time when the state is grappling with a severe drought, 85 irrigation projects, underway for the past 30 years, are still nowhere near completion, data from the Irrigation Development Corporation has revealed.
Cost overruns across 515 irrigation projects in the state amount to a whopping Rs 44,061.81 crore.
The total amount estimated for these projects was Rs 97,000 crore. The state now requires Rs 1.25 lakh crore to finish the incomplete projects.
Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan said, “After an investment of Rs 70,000 crore over the past 10 years, a large number of projects are still languighing incomplete. Today, we have to make higher allocations to complete the projects in a phased manner.”
Of the total 515 projects, 85 were started 30 years ago, 61 projects 20 years ago, 78 projects ten years ago, 179 projects five years ago and 11 projects less than five years ago. The Gosikhurd National Irrigation Project, which started in 1984 at Bhandara district with an estimated cost of Rs 381 crore, is now pegged at Rs 16,000 crore. After spending Rs 8,000 crore, it is still incomplete, with the state now seeking central funds for it.
While the government has already enforced a ban on sanctioning new irrigation projects, relaxing its norms to give a go-ahead to projects awaiting revised cost estimate is on the agenda.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has convened a meeting with the ministry of water resources and ministry of finance in a couple of weeks to address the problems of irrigation works. The government also intends to review the irrigation project audit report to identity how mcuh funds it needs to allocate for them over the next three ears and how they can be expedited in the most effective manner.
Several options are under way to source funds, including taking big loans on low interest through collaboration and linking it with other project partnerships. However, formal decision will be taken after a couple of meeting.