River Rejuvenation At Heart Of Agrarian Distress: Isha Foundation Gets Rs 415 Crore From Maharashtra Govt For Waghari

Isha Foundation founder Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

A pilot project proposed by National Rally for Rivers to rejuvenate the Waghari river has received the nod of Devendra Fadnavis led Maharashtra state cabinet and a Rs 415 crore allotment.

National Rally for Rivers is a campaign conceptualised and conducted by the Isha Foundation,an organisation founded by noted spiritual leader Jaggi Vasudev,

Jaggi Vasudev hailed the move as a landmark step.

The Maharashtra cabinet had on 5 March approved the pilot project in Yavatmal and the agriculture department had earmarked Rs 415 crore for project implementation, a release from the foundation said separately.

The district, located in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, has experienced significant agrarian distress in the recent few years.

The approval also includes formation of a Special Purpose Vehicle for the project, which will have representation from members of Rally for Rivers and other technical experts, it said.

The project will focus on supporting farmers with community micro-irrigation, tree-based agriculture, farm producer organisations (FPOs), market development and crop diversification.

The project aims to provide sustainable irrigation and a better environment which will result in a significant rise in farm produce and farmer income.

The Waghari River is a tributary of Godavari and flows through Yavatmal district, where farmer distress has been acute in the last few decades. Farmers have been facing water shortages, soil infertility and crop failure, leading to many suicides. Successful implementation of the project could reverse the fortunes of farmers in the region and could become the first step in revolutionizing agricultural practices across Maharashtra and India.

A team which spearheads the initiative had made a detailed presentation to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Forest Minister Sudhir Munghantiwar in August 2018 in Mumbai which was followed by a detailed project report submission in November.

Similar pilot projects would be implemented in river basins in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Punjab and Gujarat, Vasudev had said last year.

Last year, Vasudev showered praise on the Maharashtra government for demonstrating extraordinary commitment and interest in revitalising the state's rivers through plantation on riparian lands.

“It's heartening to see the speed and commitment with which the Chief Minister and Forest Minister of Maharashtra have approved the detailed project report for revitalisation of the Waghari river in Yavatmal, which is the epicentre of India's painful farmer suicide story.” Jaggi Vasudev said.

Isha foundation’s campaign 'Rally for Rivers' was launched a couple of years back to create mass awareness and garner support of the people for a government policy on the act of river rejuvenation.

The Isha Foundation has collaborated with over 25 scientists and lawmakers, including Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, for this initiative.

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