Nagpur: With the cabinet reshuffle at the Centre on Sunday, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has got the additional charge as Union Water Resources minister. Now the farmers are hopeful that fate of Vidarbha may change atleast in terms speeding up long stuck irrigation projects. Among the prominent projects that have been long pending are Gosikhurd dam and other centrally funded projects of the region.
name of accelerated irrigation benefit programme (AIBP) has been changed to Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchan Yojana (PMKSY) under the BJP regime. Projects from Vidarbha need Rs630 crore as assistance under this scheme. Of this, Rs150 crore are for Gosikhurd dam which have been held up for last two years, said sources.
Though technically Gosikhurd project has been included under the PMKSY, the actual funding has not been started. The matter is held up on account of various technical reasons. It is now hoped the process would speed up with Gadkari heading the ministry. Even as there is a lag, there is no major issue when it comes to central funding of other projects. The funding procedure also has a fast track system of approvals that needs to further speed up, said sources.
It is expected the ministry under Gadkari will promote a system of closed pipes and solar pumps for irrigation. The system of closed pipelines, which leads to more efficient flow and less wastage of water, has been conceptually approved by the state. Experts felt the Centre should now take it further. Solar pumps for lifting water could save power, said sources in the state government.
Pravin Mahajan, president of Contractor and Builders Association of Vidarbha, said Gadkari should ensure that all centrally-funded irrigation projects of the region got adequate funds within one year. “There are two projects that could change the face of Vidarbha. The first is Gosikhurd , which should get sufficient funds. The second is Wainganga to Nalganga link. Work on it should start within one year,” he added.
Mahajan’s predecessor Shirish Chakradeo said that he wanted Gadkari to devote personal attention to irrigation projects of Vidarbha. “A major contract of Gosikhurd project has been given to NBCC, which has decided to sub-contract the work. However, all sub-contracts have to be approved by Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC). This has slowed down the speed of work. Gadkari should streamline this process,” he added.
Abhay Sancheti of SMS Infrastructure expressed happiness that a man who had knowledge of irrigation had been given the water resources portfolio. “Gadkari has always given special attention to the state and Vidarbha. I am sure he will continue to do so,” he said.