FPJ Exclusive: Review of viability of water grid project is on the cards

Mumbai: The Maha Vikas Aghadi is in no tearing hurry, but it will nonetheless review the former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis' Rs 25,000 crore Marathwada water grid project, which is aimed at interlinking dams and supplying water from the dams and other reservoirs through pipelines to all villages in the scarcity-hit region.

Further, the state government will also review the viability and financial feasibility of lifting water from Konkan to the Godavari basin, which is again to be supplied to the drought hit Marathwada region.

The Fadnavis government had cleared the first phase of the Rs 4,527 crore project. His government had also proposed developing a water grid project on the lines of either that in Gujarat or Telangana.

A senior minister told the FPJ, ‘‘The government has taken a conscious decision to have a relook at these two projects instead of implementing them without taking all stakeholders on board.''

The minister also reminded that leading water experts had already raised concerns over the water grid project and had suggested the completion of the long-pending Krishna-Marathwada project to bring relief to areas in Beed and Osmanabad and focus on water management.

The BJP, in its assembly poll manifesto, had proposed connecting all the 11 dams in the perennially parched Marathwada region, and provide drinking water supply with the help of a closed pipeline.

Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and former finance minister Sudhir Munganitwar had argued that the water grid project was quite crucial as Marathwada, comprising eight districts, has traditionally been a low-rainfall area.

The grid project aims at creating an integrated piped network to supply water for drinking, industrial and agricultural purposes through the year.

The project envisaged lifting of around 167 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) water from the Konkan region and transferring it in the Godavari basin to address the needs of Marathwada and parts of Konkan.

Major dams such as Jayakwadi, Majalgaon, Lower Dudhna, Yeldari, Vishnupuri, Manjara, Mannar and Sidhdheshwar, along with several medium and minor irrigation projects, cater to Marathwada. Scanty rainfall in last few consecutive years has left many dams dry.

Water expert Pradeep Purandare raised strong objection to the project, especially since Marathwada people’s need for real change in water management remains unheeded.

He said the government needs to see whether the water grid project has received approval from the Maharashtra Water Resources Authority.

''There has not been provision for water grid in the Integrated State Water Plan. The government first needs to complete the incomplete or suspended projects to improve water availability in Marathwada,'' he felt.

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