Maharashtra's Jalyukt Shivar scheme had little impact on increasing groundwater levels, finds CAG study
A sum of Rs 9633.75 crore was spent on the scheme, a flagship programme of the Devendra Fadnavis government (2014- 19) that sought to make Maharashtra a drought-free state
The Jalyukt Shivar scheme, launched by the previous BJP-led government in Maharashtra, had little impact in tackling water scarcity and increasing groundwater level, and its execution was characterised by lack of transparency, a CAG report said on Tuesday.
A sum of Rs 9,633.75 crore was spent on the scheme, a flagship programme of the Devendra Fadnavis government (2014- 19) that sought to make Maharashtra a drought-free state, said the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) tabled in the Legislative Assembly.
The CAG's audit of the scheme — which was widely publicised by the previous state government led by Devendra Fadnavis — was conducted between January 2019 and December 2019 and the report was submitted in June 2020.
Findings of the report
The amount of storage capacity created under the now-scrapped Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyaan was not sufficient to meet water requirements of the targeted beneficiaries, the CAG report said.
According to The Indian Express, in 83 of the 120 villages selected for the study, the storage created was not sufficient, gauging by the village plan for drinking and irrigation.
Further, the CAG noted that in 37 of the 83 villages, the shortage was due to less storage created than what had been planned.
The CAG report criticised the maintenance of the completed works, saying cess towards upkeep and repairs, as envisaged in the scheme, wasn't collected.
A major objective of the scheme was to prevent the depletion of groundwater. The scheme was not successful in achieving this objective, the CAG said. According to The Times of India, there was an increase in the digging of wells and borewells from 10 percent to 90 percent in the villages where this scheme was implemented.
Also, the supply of drinking water through tankers increased from 3,368 tankers in 2017 to 67,948 tankers in 2019 in the six districts selected for the study.
However, a series of ground reports by Firstpost in 2015 (see here and here) found that the scheme appeared to have met some success in tackling water shortages in the drought-prone region of Marathwada. This was done through measures such as repair of old water conservation structures, creating of new structures deepening and de-silting of reservoirs, streams, etc.
Asked about the criticism, Fadnavis, who is now the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly said, "The report was not an indictment."
The former chief minister, who oversaw its implementation, said the new government, led by the Shiv Sena, did not support the scheme after coming to power in November last year.
"It was people's scheme. The scheme would have been more successful had the (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government not stopped it midway," the former chief minister said.
On the other hand, Maharashtra Congress leader Sachin Sawant tweeted saying —
I kept pointing out at massive scam by Fadnavis govt in #JalyuktaShivar. Even cited GSDA report stating ground water gone down in 31015 villages albeit massive expenditure. CAG report today affirmed my claim citing same reason. Fadnavis ji must take responsibility & resign as LOP https://t.co/ayCLjfFnoj
— Sachin Sawant सचिन सावंत (@sachin_inc) September 8, 2020
With inputs from PTI
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