Mumbai : In order to address critical water resources challenges in Maharashtra, state government and 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) launched Maharashtra Water Resources ‘Multi-Stakeholder Platform’ (Maharashtra Water – MSP). This platform consisting of two working groups, will come out with a proposal (to deal with water crisis) in November.

 The first meeting of this group was chaired recently and two groups were recognised – sustainability of agriculture and increasing productive command area—based on the requirement of Maharashtra. A group on sustainability of agriculture will give further impetus to Maharashtra government’s decision to make drip irrigation mandatory for sugar cane cultivation over 3.05 lakh hectares in the state. Bastiaan Mohrmann, co-lead, Asia, 2030 WRG said, “The steering board is launched. This movement is to get public-private players in a one platform.” The group is developing project proposal worth USD 270 million in funding which will come from the Green Climate Fund. The recommendations from the group will help water resources department to adopt micro-irrigation for agriculture. “Devil is in implementation,” added Mohrmann.

 Unlike Karnataka that focussed on urban and industrial water, Maharashtra is focusing on agriculture and various methodology like drip irrigation (or micro-irrigation) to save water. The government’s goal is to ensure that at least 1.2 of the 1.5 million hectares under sugar cultivation in the state uses drip irrigation technology by 2019. This saves up to 40 per cent of the water while increasing productivity. However, so far, only 2.5 lakh hectares are covered. “The working group will look at improving productivity of sugarcane crop and reducing water consumption with micro-irrigation. We plan to use the water saved from this for other seasonal crops,” said C A Birajdar, secretary of state irrigation department  to Free Press Journal.

 Farmers of Marathwada and Vidarbha are hard hit by recurrent droughts and implementation of various methodology suggested by the group can be vital in these regions, stated Birajdar. A recent 2030 WRG’s hydro-economic analysis shows that Maharashtra can achieve 6 per cent agricultural growth in rain-fed areas by shifting to higher value crops, and through better and more efficient water use and management.

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