Water researcher Praveen Mahajan requested the Mahavikas Aghadi government to remove the desperate stain on Vidarbha by giving administrative approval to the Wainganga-Nalganga project. The long-pending work on the Wainganga-Nalganga river confluence project, which is considered to be one of the most important projects in terms of irrigation capacity of Vidarbha, has started and stalled many times. There are many glitches in this project and the lack of political will is not letting this project take speed.
Mahajan emphasised that the Wainganga-Nalganga river confluence project connecting East-West Vidarbha will be the biggest project of Vidarbha. According to the Godavari water dispute arbitration, Maharashtra is allowed to use all the water available up to the Gosikhurd project as an alternative to Vidarbha. If we leave this water in the river unused, we will lose the right to this water.
The Water Development Agency had given priority to three other river’s confluence projects. These include the Par-Tapi-Narmada, Damanganga-Pinjal and Wainganga-Nalganga river confluence projects. But the Wainganga-Nalganga river confluence project will increase the irrigation capacity in Vidarbha by 3 lakh 71 thousand hectares. However, due to the delay, the cost of this project is increasing day by day.
This project will benefit Bhandara, Nagpur, Wardha, Yavatmal, Amravati, Akola and Buldhana districts. Two rivers in two distant corners of the Vidarbha region are to be connected as part of the national river linking project. Then the Union water resources minister Uma Bharti and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis made an announcement on the initial project. While a preliminary proposal was also prepared, the National Water Development Agency was working on a detailed feasibility report.
The Irrigation department jumped into it stating that the proposal is to draw the waters from the Gosikhurd dam and through lift, irrigation pumps it into a 300-km canal that is to connect the two rivers. The project is roughly estimated to cost around Rs15,000 crore and has the potential to irrigate around 2.5 lakh hectares in the arid western Vidarbha’s Amravati division which is the epicentre of unending farmers’ suicide happenings. In the last 15 years, hundreds of farmers have committed suicide because of losses in cotton and soya bean cultivation. Of the six districts where farmer’s suicides were rampant, five are in the rain-dependent Amravati division.
Being a national project, the Centre should provide funds for the river linking. This under-construction project is expected to provide irrigation facilities to 1.41 lakh hectares in the Yavatmal district and about 58,000 hectares in the Chandrapur district. Then CM Fadnavis pointed out that Maharashtra had only 18% irrigation coverage, much below the national average, and a number of irrigation projects in the state were lying incomplete. Expediting these pending projects was the need of the hour to give a much-needed boost to agricultural growth in the state which was stagnant at sub 4% while states like Madhya Pradesh had achieved double-digit growth.
Maharashtra and Gujarat had agreed for linking of Damanganga-Pinjal as well as the Paar-Tapi-Narmada rivers. The Centre was supposed to provide 75% of funds for these large ventures. The Damanganga-Pinjal linking is estimated to cost Rs2, 746 crores. It originates about 12km from Mundara village of Seoni district on the southern slopes of the Satpura Range. After joining the Wardha River, the united stream, known as the Pranahita, ultimately falls into the Godavari River in Telangana.
The project has great potential to irrigate around 2.5 lakh hectares in the arid western Vidarbha’s Amravati division. These plans should be realized by diverting the remaining water from Gosikhurd from Wainganga to Nalganga. This project was demanded by Praveen Mahajan on 3 November 2014 from the then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Taking cognizance of Praveen Mahajan’s statement, instructions were given to the Water Resources Department on behalf of the then Chief Minister’s Office. But as the rule and government changes, projects like this get compromised.
Praveen Mahajan is still chasing the project because hundreds of villages will get drinking water, besides, businesses will come there and provide employment to around 6-7 lakh people. The cost of the scheme is Rs 53,752 crore and the financial return is 9.50, which is enough to make the project a reality. The benefits area of this scheme is 3,71,277 hectares in Nagpur district, 92,326 hectares, 56,646 hectares in Wardha district, 83,571 hectares in Amravati district, 15,895 hectares in Yavatmal district, 84,625 hectares in Akola district, 38,214 hectares in Buldana district and indirectly 2-3 Lakh hectares will increase. The revision of this project was going on for the last five years, availability of water was the most important issue in this river project, after which all the hurdles have been removed and the DPR of the project is prepared by the National Water Development Agency.
This project has been included in the recently issued government order (‘War-room’) by the Water Resources Department, the project should be given immediate administrative approval, which will start in the preparation of the budget, and this work will start directly from next year. Water practitioner Praveen Mahajan demanded. He also requested in his letter to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to clean the dams and lakes around before the rainy season. The Government should use its machinery to clean the dams, rivers, and lakes. The seaweed or scum coming out must be given free to the farmers to be used in their fields. It will be a good fertilizer for them. Hope the present Government acts swiftly on the demand and let the water flow freely in the region.
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