The state government’s efforts to push for more funds for incomplete irrigation projects in Maharashtra have borne fruit.
The Centre has, in-principle, admitted to pool in Rs9,187 crore for incomplete projects in drought-prone talukas and districts where farmer suicides is rampant.
Although the Centre has turned down the state’s demand of 90% funding for these projects, it has assured it will also allocate a majority of the Rs80,000 crore earmarked for large irrigation projects in the country to those in Maharashtra
In a meeting between Union water resources minister Uma Bharti, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and water resources minister Girish Mahajan, the Centre assured the state it will provide sustainable measures to fight the drought in Marathwada.
The Centre has agreed to fund Rs7,189 crore for the completion of 132 incomplete projects from 14 Marathwada and Vidarbha districts, which have witnessed the most farmer suicides in the past few years.
Of this, Rs4,098 crore will be allocated for 98 projects in Vidarbha, while 34 projects in Marathwada will get Rs3,089 crore. Besides this, the Centre has agreed to allot Rs2,000 crore for incomplete projects in 73 drought-prone talukas. The state government aims to complete these projects in the next three years.
The state government had demanded 90% funding to these projects worth Rs29,900 crore. Bharti, however, clarified the Centre cannot change the funding ratio of 60:40 applicable across the country. She, however, admitted the Centre is considering allocating a majority of the funds earmarked for 89 large projects across the country, towards the 26 projects in Maharashtra under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana.
“Owing to corrupt practices of the past, Maharashtra is lagging behind other states in the irrigation sector, which is just 48 lakh hectare of irrigated land against its potential of 126 lakh hectares. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is very concerned about the drought situation. We are very positive about the funding for the projects in drought-hit districts and the chief minister has assured us fair and transparent implementation,” Bharti said.
She said the proposals of the central funding for the Maharashtra projects will be presented before the central cabinet for its nod.
The current estimated cost of 26 irrigation projects in Maharashtra –which has the irrigation potential of 20 lakh hectare — is Rs38,000 crore. Maharashtra batted for a major chunk of the allocation by considering a rise in the cost owing to higher compensation prompted by the 2013 amendment in the Land Acquisition Act.
The Centre has also agreed to release its share of funding (90%) for the Goshikhurd project, which has the status of national project. The Centre has halted funding for the past three years after financial irregularities in its implementation were reported.
The consent came in after chief minister Devendra Fadnavis assured the Union minister he would appoint a special committee for the transparent implementation of the project.
Gadkari said the Centre’s robust funding for irrigation projects in the state will help Maharashtra tide over the current drought situation.