GLOBAL FIRMS with experience in large water supply projects or similar projects such as laying oil or irrigation pipelines are expected to respond to the Government of Maharashtra’s invitation to participate in tendering for the ambitious Marathwada Water Grid project. The Request For Qualification notice was published for the Rs 4,251-crore first component of the Rs 16,000-crore project Wednesday.
The project proposes to connect 11 major dams in Marathwada through large pipelines, including a primary loop connecting the reservoirs to enable water to be pumped from water surplus dams to areas serviced by reservoirs with low storage levels, and a secondary grid of pipelines to convey water to the region’s 76 talukas. The project is seen as a game-changer for the water-scarce and drought-prone regions where water is sometimes available in some reservoirs, but cannot be conveyed to villages located at greater distances from them.
“Tenders for package 1, which covers Aurangabad and Jalna, were floated today. Tenders for package 2, which covers Beed district, will be invited in a week’s time,” said P Velrasu, member secretary of the Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran (MJP) that is handling the project.
Officials said tenders were invited on the Hybrid Annuity Model on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) basis. This means that following prequalification and vetting of designs, the bidder quoting the lowest Net Present Value (NPV) for construction and operations for 15 years will be selected. The concessionaire will raise 60 per cent of the project cost via debt and equity, while the government will pay the remaining 40 per cent in tranches. Budgeted revenue support from the government for the concessionaire over 15 years will be required.
Experts, including from institutions such as the Indian Institute of Technology-Powai, are to be roped in for technical evaluation of proposals and designs.
In addition, the MJP will also soon invite Request For Proposals for conveying water from four small dams in Nashik to Aurangabad. This is significant because a key criticism of the project has been that water scarcity in the region is so acute that better water distribution can be feasible only once water in Nashik’s dams and elsewhere that is reserved for Marathwada is actually conveyed to the region.
Tenders for the remaining three packages, covering the remaining five districts, will be floated soon after the Assembly elections, due in October, officials said.
At a later stage, the project also envisages connecting waters from Konkan’s west-flowing rivers to the Marathwada grid.
Concessionaires for each package will lay the primary pipelines for bulk water from the reservoirs, the secondary grid of pipelines for treated water, and water treatment plants. For Aurangabad alone, the project foresees 192 km of primary pipelines and 490 km of secondary pipelines. In Jalna, pipelines for bulk water will run 132 km and 293 km for treated water. Four treatment plants in Aurangabad will process 396 million litres daily, and three plants in Jalna will process 149 mld.
Meanwhile, activists and independent experts in the water and irrigation sectors wrote last week to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis opposing the Rs 16,000-crore project saying they doubt its need and feasibility. Alongside asking the chief minister to first ensure that water is brought into the arid Marathwada region from dams outside it, the letter sought early resolution of inter-state disputes over the waters of the Godavari, which have affected availability to Marathwada’s districts.