Mumbai, May 4 (IANS) Sounding an alarm bell, Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan Friday warned of a severe water crisis if the state government failed to complete the pending and on-going irrigation projects on schedule.
Expressing serious concern over the prevailing drought situation in several pockets of Maharashtra, the governor said many irrigation projects in the state remained incomplete.
The government needs Rs.75,000 crore to complete these projects as planned.
The governor was speaking in the Central Hall of the state legislature on ‘Maharashtra: Past, Present and Future’ on the commencement of the birth centenary year of late Y.B. Chavan.
The function was attended, among others, by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
Stressing upon long-term measures to tackle the condition of “recurring droughts” and simultaneously increasing water availability, Sankaranarayanan said experts must be consulted to prioritise the work on incomplete projects.
“I have asked the state government to complete the ongoing irrigation projects that are nearing completion on priority so that the actual benefits of the projects would reach the people,” he said.
“Unless we address this issue (of pending irrigation projects) on a war footing, we could be heading for a severe water crisis,” he warned.
The governor pointed out that water scarcity had become serious in many taluks with water table depletion.
The chief minister said the government was seized of the problems of pending water projects and irrigation issues and assured a white paper on the issue.
His comments came after criticism from the state’s longest-serving legislator and senior Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader Ganpatrao Deshmukh and Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse.
Chavan said the irrigation capacity of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka was 48 percent, 46 percent and 32 percent, respectively, whereas the capacity for Maharashtra was 18 percent.
“Nearly 70,000 crore has been spent in the last 10 years, but the increase in irrigation capacity has not more than one percent,” he added.