Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has said that the government may not table a white paper on irrigation during the winter session of the state legislature next month. He also said, on Monday, that the Centre had not yet released a grant for irrigation projects in the state.
“It is not necessary to table it [the white paper] in the house, but it is mandatory for us to come out with one because we have assured the legislature,” Chavan told a media conference at the Congress office.
Sources in the government said the white paper was expected before December 10. The Cabinet will review it before publishing it. The white paper is expected to deal with escalating costs of the projects and the irrigation potential achieved so far. Chavan had announced that such a paper would be released after many scams in the sector were reported.
In making the statement, Chavan seems to have deviated from his own stand. He had told the media last week he wanted to start a debate on the subject. His announcement had created a rift between the Congress and the NCP, which heads the water resources department. In the wake of the scams, NCP leader and then DyCM Ajit Pawar had quit.
Sources in the government said so far only one white paper, dealing with the power situation, was not tabled in the house. One on education by then Congress minister Madhukar Choudhari (1968), the other on water supply (during the Sena-BJP regime, 1996) and on the financial condition of the state (by NCP minister Jayant Patil in 1999) were tabled.
When asked why the Centre had not released the next instalment under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), Chavan said he would find out why. The Centre has stalled the AIBP grant for the past four months. Some Centre-supported projects such as Gosikhurd have not received the grant in the eight months.
A senior bureaucrat in the water resources department said the Centre would release the money only after the white paper comes out.