'Blunders' in execution of Maharashtra govt’s flagship water conservation scheme, says expert

Professor H M Desarda, a member of Maharashtra state planning commission said the widening and deepening of riverbeds and streams being carried out under the scheme is done in an "unscientific" way.

Published: 30th June 2017 10:11 PM  |   Last Updated: 30th June 2017 10:11 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

MUMBAI: Professor H M Desarda, a member of Maharashtra state planning commission, said that the state government is committing "conceptual and operational blunders" in its implementation of the much-touted water conservation scheme Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan (JSA) and urged the High Court (HC) to intervene on Friday He was deposing before an HC appointed committee.

“Whenever any such scheme for water conservation is implemented, it needs to follow ridge-to-valley approach. However, the JSA is being implemented in a haphazard manner without even having a proper Detailed Project Report (DPR) at micro-watershed or river valley basin level. This has undermined the very purpose of undertaking such a scheme on sound hydrological principles,” Desarda told the committee which is being headed by former chief secretary Johny Joseph.

He said the widening and deepening of riverbeds and streams being carried out under the scheme is done in an "unscientific" way. Instead of starting from the top of the ridge, most of the works have started from the riverbed. This would harm the ecology, Desarda told the committee.

Desarda also said these works could have been given to workers under the MNREGA programme instead of contractors who use earthmoving machinery. This would have generated ample employment opportunities for people in the drought affected districts of the state, he noted.

Even though the government is aware of the flaws in the scheme's implementation, it has done nothing due to pressure from contractor lobby and other vested interests, Desarda alleged.

Though the flaws have been brought to the government’s notice several times, the program, that is causing irreversible damage to the ecological systems, continues to be implemented, he said.

Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan, a project that involves widening and deepening of streams, aims to make Maharashtra drought free.

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