The construction of Neera-Deodhar dam in Bhor taluka of Pune district, about 200 km from Mumbai, will be taken over by a private developer.
The Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC) had started work on the major irrigation project in the early nineties. But paucity of funds and delays have forced the privatisation of the project.
On Monday, the MKVDC invited expression of interest from the developers having annual turnover of not less than Rs 400 crore to complete the project.
Sources in MKVDC said almost 95 per cent of the dam’s construction has been complete and Rs 451 crore spent. But there is no water distribution network and the corporation does not have funds to build the canals.
“It will take another 30 years to complete the work,” Executive Engineer of Neera Deodhar project Prakash Pawar said. “What is the use of storing water if it is not being used for farmers?”
The MKVDC would have to spend Rs 810 crore to construct canals and lift irrigation schemes, Pawar added.
Sources in MKVDC said the developer will have to construct 200-km-long canals and four lift irrigation schemes, the cost of which is estimated to be Rs 810 crore.
The project will be done on a build-operate-transfer basis and the developer can earn profits from tourism, contract farming and fisheries.
Some 43 lakh hectares in drought-prone areas will benefit from the dam water. The dam has storage capacity of 11 thousand million cubic metres. Pawar, however, made it clear that water will be discharged from the dam as per the government guidelines.
The state government approved the privatisation policy in 2002 to complete irrigation projects through private sector participation. “Neera-Deodhar project will be first in the state to be built under the policy,” Pawar said.