Small-scale irrigation projects of the previous government have come under the scanner of the BJP-led government in Maharashtra, which said it will review these projects as it found they were approved for political gain.
Water conservation minister Pankaja Munde said on Friday her department found some smaller irrigation projects, such as cement nullah bunds, were constructed for political gain and that many projects were approved in areas that did not even need them.
An official from the department said 2% of such projects were passed to safeguard vested interests. “While implementing chain nullah bunds, the previous government included areas that have no water scarcity. Some projects are in the constituencies of heavyweight leaders,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
The current government has planned to construct 6,000 nullah bunds in six months, the official said, adding the previous government had taken three years to complete as many smaller bunds.
“We will make 1,000 villages drought-free in the first year of the Jalyukta Shivar (the government’s watershed management initiative), with a state budget of Rs 1,000 crore. Villages will be selected after studying factors such as rainfall and water table levels. The projects will be monitored by a committee of apolitical members. The auditing will be done by an independent agency,” Munde said.
According to the official, at least 40 corporate houses are expected participate. “We have already received positive response from a bank about adopting a few villages. Corporate houses can participate by funding the project or taking responsibility of a certain component of the projects. CM Devendra Fadnavis is planning a meeting with them,” the official said.