Backed By Israeli Expertise, Fadnavis Government Launches Rs16000 Crore Water Grid For Perennially Parched Marathwada Region

Backed By Israeli Expertise, Fadnavis Government Launches Rs16000 Crore Water Grid For Perennially Parched Marathwada Region

by Swarajya Staff - Aug 24, 2019 06:24 PM +05:30 IST
Backed By Israeli Expertise, Fadnavis Government Launches Rs16000 Crore Water Grid For Perennially Parched Marathwada RegionWater stress: Villagers of Masurdi in the Latur district of Marathwada region wait for the water tanker. (Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via GettyImages) 

In a major move towards mitigating the water crisis in perennially-parched Marathwada region, the Maharashtra Cabinet led by state Chief Minister (CM) Devendra Fadnavis has given its approval for the first phase of the ambitious Rs 16000 crore Marathwada water grid project.

The Marathawada water grid project aims to create an integrated piped network to supply water for drinking, industrial and agricultural purposes all through the year.

Marathwada region consists of the eight districts in the heart of Maharashtra: Aurangabad, Beed, Latur, Osmanabad, Parbhani, Jalna, Nanded and Hingoli. The region has a population of about 1.87 crore and covers a geographical area of 64.5 thousand sq kms.

Due to topographical reasons, Marathwada has traditionally been a low rainfall region and faces a severe scarcity of drinking water due to the scanty rainfall.

Marathwada region is dependent on major dams such as Jaikwadi, Majalgaon, Lower Dudhna, Yeldari, Vishnupuri, Manjara, Mannar and Sidhdheshwar and many medium and minor irrigation projects for its water supply. However due to low rainfall during the last few consecutive years, these dams had insufficient storage resulting into water scarcity problem.

With a view to solve water problem permanently in Marathwada region, the Devendra Fadnavis government envisaged a water grid plan following the pattern of Gujarat and Telangana water grid projects.

The first phase of the project will be rolled out on a pilot basis in Aurangabad and Jalna districts. The Cabinet has given a go ahead for the tendering process on the basis of hybrid annuity for setting up the water grid.

While the project for the entire Marathwada region which includes 8 districts, is slated to cost Rs 16,000 crore, the Aurangabad-Jalna phase is expected to cost Rs 4,293 crore.

According to irrigation department officials,  the state government will fund 60 per cent of the project cost, while the developer has to mobilise the remaining capital through a mix of equity and debt. Although the assets of the project will remain with the state, a long-term model to ensure repayment of funds to the developer will be ensured.

Israel’s national water company, Mekorot will help the state government to develop the water grid. Mekorot, famous for building the Israeli national water gird, is providing the technology, knowledge and systems to conduct survey, prepare a water supply master plan and to solve the water shortage problem completely for the Marathwada region spread over 65,000 sq kms.

Mekorot has already submitted  preliminary compilation reports for Aurangabad and Jalna districts  which includes placing of 737 kms of pipelines for Aurangabad district and 458.29 kms of pipelines for Jalna.

Mekorot has completed a similar exercise in the field of water management in Argentina, Mexico, Romania and Cyprus.

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