Maharashtra government is mulling over taking loans to complete remaining works on under construction dams in the time period of three years to bring more farmsteads under irrigation coverage and to help transition from dry land to irrigated agriculture.
It may be mentioned here that Maharashtra has the largest number of dams in India, but much lower irrigation compared to the national average of 45%.
Speaking in the state Legislative Assembly, water resources minister Girish Mahajan pointed out that Maharashtra had pending projects worth Rs 90,000 crore and added it was not possible to complete them, if the present annual budget allocations were considered.
He also stressed that the biggest problem before farmers was the lack of irrigation, and added that he had discussed with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, plans to take loans to complete these projects.
These debts of around Rs 30-40 thousand crore can be raised for projects on which relief and rehabilitation has been completed and environment nods have been secured. It will help complete work on such projects in three years.
"This year, the conditions in the state are serious," noted Mahajan, adding that water levels in dams in Marathwada were just 3% as against 12% last year, while the comparative levels for the state were 20% against 34% for the previous year. He said that they had taken up works on projects that were around 70- 80% complete and in 2014-15, irrigation coverage had risen by 44,000 hectare with the completion of 28 projects.
This year, the water resources department plans to complete 27 projects, which will irrigate 1.60 lakh hectare. Measures such as allowing officials to negotiate with land owners for direct purchase of land had eased things.
Mahajan also noted that in the future, water from dams would have to be released using closed pipelines instead of the present open canal system, which led to massive losses. Cropping patterns would have to be changed with drip irrigation being introduced for crops such as sugarcane, he also added.