Budget 2018: This is why Maharashtra’s drought woes are likely to continue
Conceived in 1987, this major irrigation project was to be completed in 1992.
If the project is completed after 28 years of delay, it will join 16 other such irrigation projects in Maharashtra that have been hanging fire for over two decades.
But the fact that such delayed projects dot Maharashtra would certainly rankle the finance minister.
Information sourced from his ministry shows that these multi-decade delays in completing minor and major irrigation projects across Maharashtra have cost the government a lot of money over the years.
These projects that should have been completed at an estimated cost of Rs 9 billion will now end up costing more than Rs 50 billion.
If that wasn’t enough, in 2015 and 2016 severe droughts again hit the state.
Reports suggest that the state’s farmers sought insurance to the tune of Rs 41 billion for crop losses due to drought in 2016.
While Jaitley might be inclined to announce new irrigation projects for Maharashtra, the Narendra Modi administration might do well to ensure that irrigation projects scheduled to be completed this year and the ones hanging fire for more than two decades see the light of the day first, without suffering the same fate as other projects like the Lendi irrigation project.
Finance ministry data show that at least six irrigation projects in the drought-hit state are scheduled to be commissioned in 2018.
Although conceived at a cost of Rs 7 billion, their revised completion cost 20 years later exceeds Rs 27 billion.