Jalyukt Shivar to cover 5,000 Maharashtra villages in first phase

Mumbai: The BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra has undertaken an integrated water conservation and management initiative (Jalyukt Shivar) which aims to make 5,000 villages scarcity-free in the first phase in 2015-16.

The ambitious programme, aimed at making the state scarcity-free in five years, will involve construction of a series of check dams, rejuvenation of old check dams and repair of Kolhapur Type (KT) weirs and storage tanks, Water Conservation department secretary Prabhakar Deshmukh told PTI.

The Jalyukt Shivar initiative will also involve repair of percolation tanks, desilting village percolation tanks and connecting stream/nullahs with water storage bodies, he said.

The project will first be implemented in 5,000 villages where water scarcity is most acute, he said, adding that the villages have been identified. "This is going to be the state government's flagship programme and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also mentioned it at the recent World Economic Forum at Davos," he said.

"We will have water audit as the mainstay of this programme and also integration of various water conservation projects, and ensure efficient water usage under the overall command of concerned district collectors, who will be the nodal authority," the senior IAS officer said.

Deshmukh, as divisional commissioner of Pune, had earlier implemented a similar water conservation programme in five districts of Pune division which he claimed led to demand for water tankers in villages going down by 70 to 80 per cent and also resulted in water table going up.

State Water Conservation Minister Pankaja Munde had recently alleged irregularities in water conservation initiatives by the erstwhile Congress-NCP government. To counter the severe drought in 2012-13, the previous government had taken up construction of cement check dams, and deepening of local water sources in a big way.

"Our review has shown that some cement check dams were built even in areas where these were not necessary. While the
focus ought to have been on serving water in scarce and drought prone areas, we have come across complaints which show that the approach was more of setting up these projects in areas controlled by ruling legislators," Munde had said.

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