MUMBAI: Maharashtra government has finally decided to hand over 1,055.64 hectares of forest land to state Water Resources Department for the Jigaon dam project in Buldhana district. The project, conceived in 2000, became controversial because of allegations of corruption.
Former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and MLC (then with NCP) Sandip Bajoria are named in a petition before Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court which alleges misappropriation of funds in the project. In a recent election, Bajoria was elected as an Independent member of the state Legislative Council.
The dam will have total water storage capacity of around 25 TMC and is estimated to cost about Rs 500 crore. A government resolution yesterday said that for the construction of the dam and water storage, 1,055.64 hectares of forest land would be handed over to the Water Resources Department. Since the project is "site specific", it was necessary to hand over the forest land, the GR said.
"The total area that will be submerged is 12,000 hectares. There are 32 villages which will be rehabilitated completely while another 15 villages will be rehabilitated partially. The dam is expected to irrigate around one lakh hectares in Buldhana and Akola districts," the dam's executive engineer, Hemant Solge, said.
"The actual cost would be around Rs 500-600 crore but major expenditure would be on land acquisition and rehabilitation. There are some lift irrigation schemes proposed as well, so we need to create infrastructure for the same," he said. When asked about the litigation such projects usually attract, Solge said, "First we will ensure rehabilitation and complete the work of crest construction.
Then we will start filling the dam up to the crest so that 40,000 hectares of agricultural land will benefit from it. Once the farmers start getting water, others will also support the dam work."