In a tactical policy shift, the state government has decided not to give sanctions to new mega irrigation projects as they become economically non-viable.
The new land acquisition policy, which is under consideration, is going to make it more difficult to undertake mega projects as the government has to shell out four times the market price for acquiring land from farmers.
A senior revenue department official said, “The land acquisition policy is in its final stages. Though the policy is facing opposition, any attempt to scuttle it would go against the government.” Both the central and state governments are working out the details.
The state government is drawing up plans to re-draw its irrigation policy focused on small and medium irrigation projects in the state. “The state requires Rs75,000 crore to complete the ongoing irrigation projects in the state. But if we set aside four big projects, the amount comes down to Rs31,000 crore for rest of the projects, which can provide greater irrigation potential,” water resources minister Sunil Tatkare said.
However, huge funds have already been invested in these mega projects without reaping any dividends in absence of construction of canals connecting to agricultural fields.
In Konkan region, several irrigation projects remain only on paper. Almost 12 important projects across Vidarbha, Konkan and Marathwada have failed to make headway due to legal hurdle and corruption .
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has entrusted the task of taking an objective look at the irrigation policies by directing the ministry of water resources, ministry of agriculture and ministry of planning to study all aspects to ascertain the exact irrigation potential through the ongoing projects.
The officials in the finance ministry said, “We don’t see the water resources ministry’s annual budget in 2013-14 exceeding Rs12,000 crore.”
Which means it will take 10 years for the government to provide Rs75,000 crore required to complete the ongoing projects. The state government needs to overhaul its irrigation policies through new avenues for increasing the irrigation potential in state.