Above: Wainganga River, downstream of Gosikhurd reservoir (Photo by AJT Johnsingh on 09/03/17)
The valley of Wainganga River has served as a backdrop for Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle book. East Vidarbha region of Maharashtra hosts major part of this lush green landscape which is ecologically one of the most significant regions of India. More than 50% of forest of Maharashtra State falls in this region. Government of Maharashtra (GoM) however is doing little on its part to protect these. Perceiving them as ‘hurdles’ GoM is pushing more and more unfeasible dam projects in this region in the name of irrigation. Water for rivers, biodiversity, wildlife has taken a backseat in the growing claims on Wainganga waters. If these projects come up health of Wainganga basin will be further seriously jeopardized.
This is an attempt to put together Maharashtra specific profile of Wainganga River. Continue reading “Wainganga River: Threatened lifeline of Vidarbha’s Forests”
Above: Retaining wall of Gosikhurd RBC slid down from its location Photo: Jan Manch
Aftermath of the irrigation scam exposed in 2012 in Maharashtra still continues. Roots of the scam were pointed out time and again by Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) and also by several other committees set up by the Government. The scam was finally unveiled in May 2012 with a combined effort of several whistle blowers from inside & outside the government as civil society groups including SANDRP. Unjustified cost overruns, forged tenders, tweaking the norms of tendering process, incomplete projects laden with inferior quality work were brought to light and the unholy nexus of corrupt leaders, government officials and contractors became visible like never before.
Continue reading “Tracing the Maharashtra Irrigation Scam: From 2012 to 2016”
Above: Irrigation official confronting the angry farmer from Asolamendha village in Chandrapur District of Maharashtra Photo: Amruta Pradhan
“Farmers are dying… but your procedures have to be complete…”
Sight of an angry farmer saying this to an irrigation official has stayed with me long after I returned from visit to Gosikhurd Right Bank Canal (RBC). More often than not, I, like many others have read and written about mighty Gosikhurd- that multi thousand crore irrigation project languishing incomplete for last 32 years. I was now seeing personification of the havoc wrecked by this poorly planned and even more poorly implemented project.
I was at the Asolamendha dam, tail end of Gosikhurd RBC. 30-40 farmers from nearby villages suffering because of the shoddy work of RBC had gathered with complaints at tip of their tongue. Nature of complaints was serious. This incomplete canal running a total length of 99.53 km from Gosikhurd Dam in Pauni Tehsil of Bhandara District to Asolamendha Dam in Nagbhid tehsil of Chandrapur District has not only failed to provide irrigation but is also destroying the catchment of the local water sources.
I was visiting Gosikhurd RBC as a part of Sinchan Shodh Yatra- a series of fact finding tours started since May 2015 by Jan Manch– a voluntary organization from Nagpur to uncover the shocking ground reality of corruption laden incomplete irrigation projects of Vidarbha region. The yatra that has visited 18 projects so far is being joined by more and more farmers who have suffered due to the poorly implemented, half done irrigation projects. It is becoming a platform for affected people to raise their voices and slowly emerging as a pressure group on irrigation officials. (Read more about Sinchan Shodh Yatra at https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/public-audits-of-corruption-ridden-irrigation-projects-in-vidarbha-sinchan-shodh-yatra/#more-15917)
Shodh yatra consisting of about 70 people had taken an inspection tour of Gosikhurd RBC which was proposed to irrigate command area of 64,362 Ha but has been incomplete since last decade. During its journey of 50 km length of RBC (from 45 km from Gosikhurd dam to Asolamendha) Shodh yatra witnessed stalled work of the main canal which has not resumed for past more than three years, farmers agitating over host of issues from incomplete branch canals to crop damage caused by breach of canals and irrigation officials offering more and more excuses. Continue reading “Sinchan Shodh Yatra finds Gosikhurd Right Bank Canal incomplete even after a decade of construction”
Right Bank Canal of Gosikhurd Dam (Photo: Jan Manch)
Controversial irrigation projects of Maharashtra continue to make headlines after massive irrigation scam that was unveiled in 2012. Following an inquiry in the scam, the state cabinet has recently scrapped 94 tenders of 14 irrigation projects worth Rs 9,196 Crore.[i] Around 52 of these tenders have been under the scanner of anti-corruption bureau (ACB), with first information reports (FIRs) filed in four of them. Continue reading “Public Audits of corruption ridden irrigation projects in Vidarbha: Sinchan Shodh Yatra”