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Maha Assembly: Oppn fears diversion of water to Gujarat

The Congress and the NCP expressed an apprehension in the Maharashtra Assembly that the BJP-led state government may divert more water to neighbouring Gujarat from the proposed Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada projects.

However, State Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan denied the charge.

Stating that the BJP could form government in Maharashtra in 2014 due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, NCP MLA Ajit Pawar said, “We do not want to see Modi influencing the project and taking more water to Gujarat from Maharashtra. The National Water Development Authority is preparing a detailed plan of the project”.

The Damanganga-Pinjal project proposes to divert the surplus water of the Bhugad and Khargihill reservoirs in the Damanganga basin to Mumbai, via the Pinjal dam on the Pinjal river in the Vaitarna basin.

Bhugad village is located in Nasik district of Maharashtra near the border of Valsad district of Gujarat.

The project is expected to provide 909 million cubic metres of water to Mumbai for the city’s domestic and industrial requirements.

The Daman Ganga River flows through Maharashtra and Gujarat states, as well as the Union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

Leader of Opposition and Congress MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the state government should protect the interest of the people of Maharashtra as far as the river-linking projects are concerned.

“Godavari command area is known as a scarcity region. With river linking projects such as the Daman Ganga-Pinjal and the Par-Tapi-Narmada, the state government should protect the interest of our people as well as the state,” Vikhe Patil said.

The Par Tapi Narmada Link proposes to transfer water from the water surplus regions of Western Ghats to the water deficit regions of Saurashtra and Kutch. The link project includes seven reservoirs proposed in north Maharashtra and south Gujarat.

The water from the seven proposed reservoirs would be taken through a canal, which would save Sardar Sarovar water. That water will be used to extend irrigation in Saurashtra and Kutch region.

“The state government should not give lame excuses such as an inability to lift water to level as high as 600 meters. Maharashtra has already implemented lift irrigation schemes like Tembhu, Mhaisal in Sangli district. It is possible to lift water from Gujarat to Maharashtra,” Vikhe Patil said.

Allaying the concerns raised by the Opposition leaders, Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan said “not a single extra drop” of water will be given to Gujarat.

He said Maharashtra’s interest and desired requirement of water will be protected by the government.

“The Damanganga-Pinjal river link project proposes to provide additional drinking water to Mumbai. The total cost of the project is Rs 2,746.61 crore,” the minister said,

Referring to Union government sanctioning Rs 10,800 crore to the Gujarat government for the Par-Tapi-Narmada project, Mahajan said, “We demanded similar allocation for the Maharashtra as well. The Centre has also approved our demand and given funds for the river linking projects”

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