Former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar may no longer be part of the government, but he made it a point to show that he still calls the shots in the party.
In his speech, Pawar expressed his unhappiness with the water resources department’s proposal to stay all irrigation projects that are only 15% complete and prioritise projects that are 70% complete over the next three years, which cost Rs16,000 crore.
Cautioning water resources minister Sunil Tatkare of the political ramifications of such a decision, Pawar said Tatkare must rethink this plan as regions where projects will get stalled will rebel against the NCP. “I have been hearing of this development. I would urge my colleagues to not take an emotional decision. Several areas need irrigation projects and to stall them because they are only 15% complete will reflect badly on the NCP,” he said.
In its October 12 edition, Hindustan Times had reported on this proposal, which aimed at combating allegations of cost escalations. Incidentally, the high-powered committee set up in 2001 had also asked the state government to first prioritise dams that are 75% complete instead of spreading limited resources thinly over several projects.
Despite spending thousands of crores on projects, the state has the lowest irrigated area in the country, at 17.9%.
The government needs another Rs. 70,000 crore to complete all ongoing projects.