Fast Facts Maharashtra

MH govt silent on irrigation stats despite highest dams in State

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MH govt silent on irrigation stats despite highest dams in State

The government seems to be clueless about the percentage of irrigation in the state. For the third consecutive year, the Economic Survey 2014-15 is silent on the gross irrigated area in Maharashtra. This is despite a new dispensation ruling the state.

However, the irrigated area in the command area under the jurisdiction of the water resources department, has increased by 8.12 lakh hectare i.e. from 24.48 lakh hectare in 2012-13 to 32.60 lakh hectare in 2013-14, an increase of 30%. This means that the utilisation of the irrigation potential was higher than the previous period.

In 2012, the economic survey had said that irrigation in Maharashtra had risen by just 0.1% to 17.9% between 2001 and 2010 despite Rs 70,000 crore being pumped into the sector. This had prompted then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to assure a white paper on the issue, which led to a confrontation with the NCP and then deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who was the irrigation minister between 1999 and 2010.

After allegations of corruption in irrigation projects, Pawar had resigned only to be sworn back two months later. Incidentally, the NCP is now being seen as inching closer to the ruling BJP, with the parties joining hands to oust legislative council chairperson Shivajirao Deshmukh of the Congress on Monday.

Later, the state government’s white paper on irrigation projects debunked the 0.1% growth claim and said the figure stood at 5.17%. The government also set up a special investigation team (SIT) under water expert Madhav Chitale to probe the alleged irregularities. The committee’s report was tabled in the legislature in June 2014.

The Economic Survey, which was tabled in the state legislature on Tuesday, makes no mention of net area sown and the gross cropped area – which is more than net sown area in case multiple crops are grown in the same field – for 2013-14. It said that as per the recommendations of the SIT, various committees/sub-committees have been formed to decide on the further line of action on the gross irrigated area. Last year too, the document had not mentioned the figure. It had said that the data would be available once the report and the recommendations of the SIT were accepted.

The Comptroller and Auditor General has repeatedly pointed to maladministration in the state's irrigation projects.

According to the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, of the five river basin systems in the state, four basis – (KGTN) Krishna, Godavari, Tapi and Narmada – cater to about 55% of water requirement of farms. These four basins also comprise 92% of the cultivable land and more than 60% of the rural population. The remaining 45% water flow is from the westward flowing rivers, which originate in the Western Ghats, are monsoon specific and drain into the Arabian Sea.

An approximate 49% of the area of these four river basins consisting 43% of the population is already considered as deficit or highly deficit regarding water availability. The size of these deficit areas is likely to increase steadily with increasing population and economic growth in the years to come.

Irrigation stats

307.58 lakh hectare Area of Maharashtra

225.56 lakh hectare cultivable area

73% cultivable area

75% of cultivated land is monsoon dependent

78.6% proportion of small and marginal farmers as per agriculture census 2010-11

State's irrigation coverage is much less than the national average of 45%

Belgaum dispute

  • At Foothills of the Sahyadri mountain range, a mineral rich Belgaum has been a bone of contention between two states -- Maharashtra and Karnataka.

  • Earlier Belagum im MH but post 1956 reorganization of states (The commission’s methodology was based on the principle that a district should be taken as a unit to decide which linguistic state should it be included and not taluka or village. Only if a taluka within a district had 70% people speaking other language, it would be transferred to the neighbouring state. This flawed methodology is the foundation of the current Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute… popularly referred to as “Belgaum Border Dispute”. Surprisingly, this ‘formula’ was overruled by the commission itself in all cases expect Belgaum!), it was incorporated into Mysore State but The Centre stating that language was never the sole determinant behind the reorganisation of states and that Maharashtra had no claim over Belgaum.

  • Mahajan committee, 1966 too favoured Belgaum to continue in Karnataka

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