Maharashtra seeks Rs 30,000cr from Centre

from Times of India
Published on 03 May 2013 View Original

Sandeep Ashar, TNN | May 3, 2013, 03.13 AM IST

MUMBAI: The state government has decided to seek Rs 30,000 crore in central assistance to bail itself out of the irrigation mess.

It will approach the Centre for a special package to fund projects planned to increase the irrigation potential in drought-prone parts.

CM Prithviraj Chavan is expected to lead a delegation to meet PM Manmohan Singh over the demand. NCP chief Sharad Pawar, whose party is in alliance with Chavan's Congress, is also said to be pushing for the special package.

Singh was to originally review the demand on April 30, but the meeting was put off in light of certain political developments in Delhi.

The ravaging drought in the state has been linked to bad irrigation planning. Even Chavan has acknowledged this, much to the discomfort of the NCP, which controls the water resources department.

Rampant corruption and irregularities have led to steep cost hikes and delays in completion of irrigation projects. With an annual budget of Rs 7,500 crore at its disposal, the department has project liabilities worth Rs 80,000 crore.

The state will seek Rs 21,250 crore for completion of 70 dam projects which can be completed in two years.

The NCP-led department had initially shortlisted projects mainly in western Maharashtra and Marathwada, but Chavan reportedly insisted projects from Vidarbha, a Congress bastion, also be included, citing the governor's directives on removal of irrigation backlog

A demand for Rs 3,000 crore for 12 projects in Marathwada, Rs 5,500 crore for Vidarbha and Rs 11,000 crore for 58 projects in the rest of the state will be made. Funds will also be sought for projects identified for immediate completion by the Centre-appointed A R Sikka committee on drought.

Chavan will seek Rs 4,500 crore for micro-irrigation projects and Rs 3,150 crore for creating farm ponds and cement nullah bunds, works which come under the Congress-controlled agriculture and water conservation departments.

Another Rs 530 crore will be sought for repairs, renovation and restoration of water supply schemes, while Rs 450 crore will be demanded tocompensate for drought-ravaged farm orchards