MUMBAI: The Congress alleged on Friday that there was a scam in the Maharashtra government's `Jalyukt Shivar' water conservation scheme as it failed to make parched 16000 villages 'drought-free' and demanded a probe.
The opposition party also said that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had claimed that the villages had become 'drought free'. It demanded that the PM should name the villages which got 'benefited' by the scheme.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said that Modi, speaking in the temple town of Shirdi on October 19, said that 16,000 villages in Maharashtra have become drought-free thanks to the Jalyukt Shivar scheme.
Five days later, the BJP-led state government declared 180 tehsils as having drought-like conditions, and most of these `drought-free' villages fall in these tehsils, Sawant claimed.
According to the government, Rs 7,789 crore were spent on the scheme, but groundwater levels have fallen in 31,015 villages in the state, which indicates that the scheme had not worked and there was a scam, Sawant said.
There should be a judicial probe, he demanded. The Congress spokesperson claimed that as per the Groundwater Survey and Development Authority (GSDA), rainfall in 2014 (70.2 per cent of average) and 2015 (59.4 per cent) was less than this year (74.3 per cent).
However, the number of villages where groundwater levels went down by more than one meter was less in 2014 (5,976 villages) and 2015 (13,571) than in 2018 (13,984), he said.
There was no Jalyukt Shivar scheme in 2014 and 2015, he pointed out. On Tuesday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had countered the criticism of the Jalyukt Shivar scheme, saying that Congress was insulting the farmers and villagers who have toiled hard to make it a success.
"The scheme's objective is there should be conservation of water if there is scanty rain. It does not mean there will be water if there are no rains," he said.