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White paper on irrigation not a political move: Chavan

Mumbai: Dismissing the speculation that his decision to come out with a white paper on development of irrigation in the state was aimed at embarrassing the ally NCP, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan today said a paradigm shift in the irrigation policy was needed.

The irrigation portfolio is with the Sharad Pawar-led NCP since 1999, when the first Congress-NCP government was formed.

"The error needs to be explained. We need to change the model of our planning for the irrigation sector," Chavan said.

"There is no point in criticising anybody. I am answerable as the head of the state. The livelihood of about 57 percent of the population depends on agriculture and hence irrigation is very important for the progress and development of the state," Chavan told reporters here.

He said he had spoken to the concerned ministers on the issue, and the Irrigation Department will prepare a white paper and submit the report to him.

Prima facie, there seemed to be an error in the statistics given by the latest Economic Survey which said that irrigation capacity was just 17 percent, with an increase of not more than 0.1 percent in the last ten years, despite a spend of Rs 70,000 crore, Chavan stated.

"The error needs to be explained. We need to change the model of our planning for the irrigation sector," Chavan said, adding that he had nothing to say to the criticism of his decision to issue the white paper by some NCP leaders.

The state government had asked Centre to sanction Rs 20 crore for drought-prone districts for construction of check dams, he said.

The Chief Minister also said that as per the experts, the state's irrigation capacity can increase upto 30 percent. "At present it is about 17 percent. We need to know what is the irrigation potential that can be created and how much can be used."

PTI