As north Maharashtra and Marathwada battle severe water scarcity, the Opposition has demanded the government stops two river-linking projects with Gujarat – as this could give the state an additional 135 tmc of water, including 20 tmc for Mumbai.
The MoUs for the Damanganaga-Pinjal and the Nar-Par Tapi projects were signed in 2010, between the Congress-NCP government and then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi.
On Wednesday, it was interestingly brought up by NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal and supported by Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil.
“It might have been a decision our government took in 2010, but an MoU can always be revoked for the benefit of the state and Mumbai. It is not a final agreement, and if it is not discussed now, we will lose it forever,” said Bhujbal, adding Maharashtra should decide not to divert any water to Gujarat, and instead divert it to water-scarce regions in north Maharashtra and Marathwada.
Vikhe-Patil said even though the MOU was initiated by their government, the current government can always think about again.
In January this year, Union water resources minister Uma Bharti had called for a meeting with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to review the projects.
However, as no work has started yet on linking the rivers, and with Maharashtra facing a water crisis, the state may have to review the projects.
However, irrigation minister Girish Mahajan said, “This decision was taken by them, and it was Ashok Chavan [CM at the time] who signed the MOU and took the decision.”
The Tapi project would mainly benefit Gujarat, as it was aimed at transferring surplus water to deficit areas in north Gujarat, through a 402km-long canal.
The Damanganga project, on the other hand, was planned to transfer surplus water from Gujarat’s Bhugad & Khargihill dams to the Pinjal reservoir in the Vaitarna basin.