The Maharashtra government has decided to opt out of the joint river-linking projects with the Gujarat government and is planning to develop the Daman Ganga and Par-Tapi-Narmada-Pinjal river-linking projects on its own, DNA has reported.
The report states that the Maharashtra government plans to raise funds and take loans from the open market for the river-linking projects, expected to cost around Rs 15 crore.
The decision is expected to help Maharashtra get additional 1,642 million cubic litres of water for various drought-prone areas of the state, according to the report. The projects, which have been pending since 2010, were earlier planned under a 90:10 percent Centre-state funding principle.
The linking of the rivers was part of the Centre's ambitious scheme of linking over 30 major rivers across the country. The report states that the Gujarat government had agreed to the proposal initially.
However, Vijay Shivtare, Minister of State (MoS) for irrigation, told the newspaper that the Gujarat government doesn't seem "keen" on the projects now.
Sources told the newspaper that the projects will be approved by the Cabinet on June 30, and a detailed report will be presented and approved by August 15.
"On the same day, the finance department will fix the source of fund for these projects. We will complete the project on a mission mode. We are also in process of appointing the chief engineer for execution of these projects," a senior irrigation department official told the newspaper.
"Par Godavari, Daman Ganga-Vaitarna and Daman Ganga-Ekdare-Godavari will supply 15.60 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) water to drought-affected Marathwada region and Ahmednagar district," Shivtare said.
"While Nar Par Girana will supply the water to North Maharashtra, it will address the scarcity of drinking water. The remaining water can be used for irrigation and industrial purposes," the minister said, adding that state capital Mumbai and its outskirts will "get 31.60 TMC water from Daman Ganga Pinjal project".
A senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said diverting water to Gujarat at this stage, when Maharashtra is gearing up for Assembly elections, would have been politically risky in any case.
"Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) did not want to take this risk. Furthermore, due to the large scale displacement of people in Gujarat, even their government did not show keenness for the river joining project. The move would have helped the Gujarat to bring 2.30 lakh hectares land under irrigation," the leader said.