In the white paper that the water resources department presented in the Cabinet on Thursday night, the state government has rubbished the economic survey report’s observation that Maharashtra’s irrigation potential has increased by only 0.1% between 2001 and 2010.
In a rare show of unity within the ruling alliance, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and water resources minister Sunil Tatkare stood together and stated that the survey report was proved wrong. The development indicates a patch-up between the two ruling parties ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.
Though NCP leader Ajit Pawar had resigned from the post of deputy chief minister in the wake of allegations of irregularities in irrigation projects, the white paper does not directly deal with corruption charges against him or his party colleagues, thus paving the way for his comeback.
Tatkare said the irrigation potential could be even higher than the 5.17% estimated by his department. If you consider the increase in water supplied to non-agricultural areas, it would add up to a 6.5%, he said.
“The paper clarifies the difference between figures of the agriculture and irrigation departments and the reasons for increased cost and time,” Chavan said. It, however, states that interference by political representatives has escalated project costs. Chavan said allegations on cost escalations have been refuted .
In its November 28 edition, HT had reported on the white paper’s salient features.