Vijay Pandhare talks tough about irrigation projects

Oct 09, 2012, 06:17 IST | A correspondent

Speaking at event in Pune, scam whistleblower says irrigation projects riddled with inefficiency

Taking a potshot at Ajit Pawar, without naming him, Vijay Pandhare, chief engineer of Irrigation Department, Maharashtra, came down heavily on the former deputy CM, by describing his leadership as irrational, corrupt and greedy.

“Irrigation Department had gone into the hands of such people who had never gone beyond selfish gains and a corrupt mindset. There is a need to cancel the irrigation tenders, as contractors haven’t even completed 25 per cent of the works, in the Rs 42,000 crore project,” said Pandhare.

Sharing the dais: Social activist Medha Patkar and chief engineer of Irrigation Department Vijay Pandhare at Jalniyojan Parishad at Rashtra Seva Dal auditorium yesterday. PIC/ Krunal Gosavi

Pandhare was in the city to attend the Jalniyogan Parishad (Water Conservation Conference) with local farmers and activists of National Alliance of People’s Movement. In the presence of Narmada Bachao activist Medha Patkar, the conference unanimously established ‘Jan-Aayog’ (People Commission) to probe the Irrigation Department’s work and demanded that the white paper be published before the people of this state. Patkar also demanded for the white paper on the irrigation scam in the meeting, which took place at the auditorium at Rashtra Seva Dal yesterday.

Pandhare made his loud thinking in the presence of water experts Vijay Paranjpe, Pradeep Purandare, Prof Shyam Patil, Vikas Bhongade, Sampatrao Pawar, Dr Satish Bhingare and Anjali Damania.

Lambasting the irrational leadership, Pandhare said, “We have also forgotten Mahatma Gandhi’s views on water supply and conservation. Our leaders only make false promises by planning high-cost irrigation projects.

The efficiency of the irrigation department has drastically come down to just 17 per cent per hectare.”

Pandhare further suggested a low-cost technology, which is being effectively used at Shirpur near Jalgaon, by just deepening and widening the water supply canals for agricultural purposes. The Rs 10-crore project, which has been implemented since three years, has gained fame for the cash crops it provides to the entire 35 villages in the watershed zone.

“On my request CM Prithviraj Chavan had visited Shirpur in May this year, and was impressed by the results. He [CM] instantly replicated the project to 15 other districts by sanctioning Rs 10 crore each. The low rainfall in 50 talukas in the State also require to enforce the Shirpur pattern, which can be subsequently followed in the entire state,” Pandhare said. He further added, “No system is corrupt, only corrupt people make the system corrupt. These people can even make the Shirpur pattern a big failure.”

Pandhare, who is also a member of the state-level technical advisory committee, had earlier written to CM Prithviraj Chavan about the alleged irregularities in irrigation projects, which allegedly led to Ajit Pawar resigning from his post. 

Pandhare’s plan
>> Avoid costly projects and increase efficiency rate of irrigation projects
>> Stop nig projects and Kolhapur bunding in Vidarbha and Marathwada region, where Rs 1,000 crore has been washed away
>>Since, the 3,000 lift irrigation systems have failed, there is a need for self-sustaining and self-maintaining projects
>> Construct canals instead of only erecting dams
>> Stop multi-crore projects, not required in the State
>> Initiate pending issues, including rehabilitation of dam affected people
>>  Stop giving false certificates for water availability
>> Stop giving false certificates to non-feasible irrigation projects
>> Stop time-consuming projects, which are proving futile  

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