Maharashtra to launch its own river-linking projects

The Maharashtra state government plans to opt out of joint river-linking projects with the Gujarat government. Instead, the state has planned to develop its Daman Ganga, and Par-Tapi-Narmada-Pinjal river-linking on its own by raising funds and loans from the open market.

This landmark move will help the state get additional 1,642 million cubic litre water for various drought-prone parts of the state. The estimated cost of this mega project is around Rs.15,000 crore. Earlier, under the scheme, these projects were planned under 90:10% Center-state funding principle. The project is pending since 2010.

In 1980, the center government had planned to interlink the 30 major rivers of the country and Daman Ganga Pinjal and Nar Par Girana was the part of the ambitious scheme. Gujarat government had also initially agreed for this joint project.

“Our government tried to pursue them at state chief secretary level for this joint project but they are not keen now,” informed Vijay Shivtare, minister for state (Irrigation) said.

Daman Ganga-Pinjal, Nar Par Girana, Par Godavari, Daman Ganga-Vaitarna-Godavari, and Daman Ganga-Ekadare-Godavari irrigation projects will help get additional 57.91 TMC water, he explained. “Mumbai and its periphery locations will get 31.60 TMC water from Daman Ganga Pinjal project. Increased urbanisation has increased the demand of drinking water. Besides, Par Godavari, Daman Ganga-Vaitarna and Daman Ganga-Ekdare-Godavari will supply 15.60 TMC water to drought-affected Marathwada region and Ahmednagar district. While Nar Par Girana will supply the water to North Maharashtra, it will address the scarcity of drinking water. The remaining water can be used for irrigation and industrial purposes,” added the irrigation minister.

A senior BJP leader confided that diverting water to Gujarat could have had its political impact before the state Assembly elections. “Chief Minister did not want to take this risk. Furthermore, due to the large scale displacement of people in Gujarat, even their government did not show keenness for the river joining project. The move would have helped the Gujarat to bring 2.30 lakh hectares land under irrigation. Regions like Navsari, Surat, Dang, Bharuch, Saurastra, and Kutch would have reaped benefits through this project,” said the leader on the condition of anonymity.

Sources in government said that these project will be approved in the cabinet on June 30. “The detailed report of these projects will be presented and approved by August 15. On the same day, the finance department will fix the source of fund for these projects. We will complete the project on a mission mode. We are also in process of appointing the chief engineer for execution of these projects,” said a senior irrigation department official requesting anonymity.

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