MUMBAI: Maharashtra Water Resources Department has recommended creation of decentralised reservoirs and promotion of watershed programmes among others as a part of a long-term policy to provide relief to the Marathwada region which is reeling under drought.
The department's report, based on the Godavari river basin study, has recommended creation of decentralised small water reservoirs, promoting watershed programmes along with 'Jalyukta Shivar' to bring 94 per cent land under water catchment areas and promote cultivation of oilseeds and pulses, instead of crops, under protective irrigation. The joint planning, review and implementation committee headed by executive director of Water Resources Department has prepared a report on micro-planning of Godavari river basin. A multi–disciplinary team was appointed comprising water experts and officials of state government.
The recommendations are based on considering the population and requirement of water for drinking, conditions of agriculture and industries sector in 2030. According to an official from the Water Resources Department, the planning of the Godavari basin will not only help in identifying places where small and medium dams to hold water can be constructed, but will provide directions on overcoming the drought situation in the Marathwada region.
"The report has recommended that cash crops or crops dependable on assured irrigation like cotton and sugarcane should not be allowed in the Marathwada region. It instead asks to promote cultivation of oilseeds and pulses," he said. The Godavari basin is spread in eight districts of Marathwada, including Aurangabad, Jalna, Parbhani, Hingoli, Nanded, Beed, Latur and partial Osmanabad districts.
Parts of Nashik, Ahmednagar and Jalgaon districts from North Maharashtra are also covered under the basin. Eleven districts of the Vidarbha region and parts of Pune will also come under the Godavari basin. "Though 94 per cent land distributed in 807 watershed sectors of Godavari basin has the capacity of water conservation, only 81 watershed sectors are under irrigation. There is still scope of work in 726 watershed sectors through which 48.09 lakh hectares land can be converted into irrigated land," the official said.
The report recommends installing cold storages and packaging industries in Marathwada and North Maharashtra, as 3,27 lakh hectare land is under fruits and vegetable cultivation. It also recommends not to allow any new irrigation project in Nashik and Marathwada, and instead create small decentralised water sources or ponds.
"Allow 2.72 more lakh more wells in the basin to reach 11.72 lakh wells, focus on micro-irrigation projects including Jalyukta Shivar," the report recommended. "These steps will be useful in conserving water and increasing ground water levels. Ultimately, it will help the region overcome from drought situation," the official said.