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  Metros   Mumbai  18 May 2017  Experts raise objections to water conservation project

Experts raise objections to water conservation project

THE ASIAN AGE. | AMEY TIRODKAR
Published : May 18, 2017, 2:58 am IST
Updated : May 18, 2017, 7:17 am IST

Water experts have long raised objections both to the way the scheme is carried out as well as the scheme itself.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at Salve in Dhule district. (Photo: Asian Age)
 Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at Salve in Dhule district. (Photo: Asian Age)

Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party government in 2015-16 launched the Jalyukta Shivar, a community-based micro irrigation system at village level and a brainchild of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, to fight the drought prevalent then in Maharashtra. Mr Fadnavis had extended his complete support to make this programme popular.

However, water experts have long raised objections both to the way the scheme is carried out as well as the scheme itself. Rajendra Singh, who is well known for his work of micro irrigation in Rajasthan, has also conveyed his reservations over the scheme to Mr Fadnavis. “As an idea, Jalyukta Shivar is fantastic. But the way it is being implemented is worrying. Contractors have hijacked the scheme and are digging hilltop areas and not working to achieve the main aim — irrigation and soil conversation,” he said.

Asked about allegations that contractors have benefited unduly in the scheme, he said, “This is bound to happen... Irrigation is all about percolation of water in soil. But if you put contractors in it, then you will achieve nothing.”

Pradeep Purandare of Water And Land Management Institute (WALMI), which is based in Aurangabad, strongly opposed the project itself. “This is a combination of 13 schemes. It looks great only on paper. But government machinery is only pushing river deepening and river widening work. This is unscientific. There should be a package of schemes that could have bigger results. Generalisation of the scheme is rather damaging the water level and resources,” he said.

Many celebrities have involved themselves in water conservation schemes in the state. Actor Nana Patekar has been working for drought-hit farmers through his Naam Foundation. Superstar Aamir Khan, through his Paani Foundation, has been conducting the ‘Water Cup’ competition, a water conservation scheme that involves villages. Cricket   icon Sachin Tendulkar has donated funds to drought-ridden villages. Marathi film personalities Sonali Kulkarni and Makrand Anaspure have participated in water conservation projects.

Scheme reaches only 58 out of 5,267 villages

  • The scheme has reached only 58 villages out of selected 5,297 villages in 2016-17.
  • Water conservation minister Ram Shinde claimed that the ‘code of conduct’ that was enforced across the state due to different elections was the main reason the bad implementation of the scheme.  
  • Only Rs 455 crore has been spent out of the Rs 7,871 crore kept reserved for the scheme in 2016-17.

Tags: bharatiya janata party, jalyukta shivar, devendra fadnavis
Location: India, Maharashtra, Mumbai (Bombay)