Mumbai: A report on depletion of groundwater in 14,000 villages in Maharashtra has prompted the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to allege that the state government’s flagship ‘Jalyukta Shivar’ scheme is “mired in corruption”.In its report released a couple of days back, the state Water Resources department (WRD) stated that the ground water level in 14,000 villages across 252 talukas has gone down by at least a metre.
Reacting to the report, senior NCP leader Dhananjay Munde Sunday said, “It is a clear indication that the state government’s ‘Jalyukta Shivar’ scheme is mired in corrupt practices. The groundwater level report vindicated our charge that there was a massive corruption in this scheme”. The scheme is close to the heart of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. “The WRD report has also exposed the state’s claim of 16,000 villages in the state becoming free of drought,” said Munde, who is the Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Council.
Fadnavis had repackaged the previous UPA government’s Jalyukta Gram scheme, which was aimed at constructing weirs and check-dams across the tributaries and streams to store water and create artificial ponds in the farms.The objective of the Jalyukta Shivar scheme is to increase storage of water at the village level and ensure the level of groundwater, which has more life than openly stored water, is raised. Munde said, “The state government has made an attempt to get the audit of the entire scheme completed by one of the participant organisations. It clearly means that the state is trying to push everything under the carpet”.
He demanded audit of the scheme by an independent organisation.”I have already warned the state government about itspractice of appointing same organisations that areparticipants in the farm pond creation, which is a clear caseof the conflict of interest. But the state continued with thepractice,” Munde claimed.
The NCP leader also demanded that old methodology beused for assessing the water scarcity in the state rather thanemploying modern guidelines that were issued in 2016. “The (modern) parameters cannot be applicable to thestate for drought assessment, as the geographical situation inthe state is different. Maharashtra also does not have enoughman-power to carry out the work. “It would be better for the state to revert to earlierassessment procedure implemented by states such as Karnataka,Kerala, Telangana and Tamil Nadu that are opposed to thenew guidelines,” said Munde.