Minimum budget, maximum water: Jalyukta Shivar irrigation projects

Minimum budget, maximum water: Jalyukta Shivar projects to irrigate 25 lakh hectares, cost Rs 10,000 crore in five years.Written by Shubhangi Khapre

 Published: The Indian Express, October 11, 2015, India

Following the success of the first phase of its ambitious water conservation project, Jalyukta Shivar, the state government expects to add 125 to 150 TMC of water through 4.5 to 5 lakh projects in the next five years spending Rs 10,000 crore. The projections are based on the audit of the 1.20 lakh Jalyukta Shivar projects completed in the first phase in 6,018 villages in nine months.

A conservative estimate shows that the total area to be brought under irrigation through these works across drought prone 25,000 villages would be 25 lakh hectares, and would not include areas that benefit indirectly through increase in water table or recharge of wells, in the next five years. Fadnavis’s flagship project focuses on small water conservation works rather than large dams completed its first phase of 1.20 lakh projects in 6,018 villages benefiting 6 lakh hectares. Reports reveal that even scanty rainfall in some areas where water conservation works have been completed led to a substantial increase in water. The projects generated an additional 24.59 TMC of water, to help increase irrigation potential of six lakh hectares.

An audit report of Jalyukta Shivar projects in 6,018 villages reveals total expenditure of Rs 1,400 crore for 1.20 lakh works. Major works included widening and deepening of rivers, compartment bunding, canals, farm ponds and revival of old water structures.

At an internal meeting, Fadnavis emphasised the motto, minimum budget, maximum water. To bring 6 lakh hectares under irrigation, a medium sized dam would have cost Rs 7,500 crore. But it was achieved through water conservation works (1.20 lakh) with a budget of Rs 1,400 crore, states the report. In the next phase, 18,000 villages will be covered and course corrections have been suggested to make the projects, to be carried out in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19, more cost effective.

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