Dams · Maharashtra

Tracing the Maharashtra Irrigation Scam: From 2012 to 2016

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”

Maharashtra

Sinchan Shodh Yatra finds Gosikhurd Right Bank Canal incomplete even after a decade of construction

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”

CAG Report · Dams · Maharashtra

Public Audits of corruption ridden irrigation projects in Vidarbha: Sinchan Shodh Yatra

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”

CAG Report · Cumulative Impact Assessment · Environment Impact Assessment · Expert Appraisal Committee · Maharashtra · Ministry of Water Resources

महाराष्ट्र-तेलंगण आंतरराज्यीय करार: जनतेच्या मुलभूत हक्कांचे व देशाच्या पर्यावरणीय कायद्यांचे उल्लंघन

काल दि. २३ ऑगस्ट २०१६ रोजी महाराष्ट्र-तेलंगण आंतरराज्य मंडळाच्या आज झालेल्या पहिल्याच बैठकीत तुमडीहेटी, मेडिगट्टा आणि चनाखा-कोर्टा बॅरेज या तीन बॅरेजचे काम सुरू करण्यासाठी दोन्ही राज्यांदरम्यान करार करण्यात आले. कमालीची गोपनीयता पाळत केल्या गेलेल्या या कराराबद्दलची अत्यंत मोघम टिप्पणी प्रसार माध्यमांना  पाठविण्यात आली. तुमडीहेटी, मेडिगट्टा आणि चनाखा-कोर्टा बॅरेजमुळे महाराष्ट्र राज्यातील यवतमाळ, चंद्रपूर आणि गडचिरोली जिल्ह्यातील 30 हजार हेक्टर जमीन सिंचनाखाली येणार असून उपसा सिंचन योजनांना बारमाही शाश्वत पाण्याचा स्त्रोत उपलब्ध होणार आहे असे या टिप्पणीत नमूद केले आहे. तसेच या प्रकल्पामुळे महाराष्ट्रातील एकही गाव, गावठाण बुडणार नाही, नदीकाठच्या गावांना पुराचा धोका नाही व हे प्रकल्प दोन्ही राज्यासाठी फायदेशीर ठरणारे असून उपसा सिंचन योजनांना बाराही महिने पाणी मिळणार आहे असा दावा करत या भागातील नागरीकांनी या प्रकल्पांना विरोध करु नये असे आवाहनही महाराष्ट्राच्या मुख्यमंत्र्यांनी त्यांनी केले. Continue reading “महाराष्ट्र-तेलंगण आंतरराज्यीय करार: जनतेच्या मुलभूत हक्कांचे व देशाच्या पर्यावरणीय कायद्यांचे उल्लंघन”

Cumulative Impact Assessment · Environment Impact Assessment · Expert Appraisal Committee · Ministry of Environment and Forests

Proposed Maharashtra Telangana Inter-state Water sharing Agreement of Aug 23, 2016: In complete violation of people’s rights & environmental laws of India

Maharashtra & Telangana governments, it has been announced, will be signing a pact for three irrigation projects to be constructed on River Godavari. Under the agreement, the two states would take up Tummidihatti, Medigadda (Kaleswaram) and Chanaka–Korata projects. Chief Minister of Telangana K Chandrasekhar Rao has reportedly said that “this would herald a new era in the relations between the two states and would be a standing example of how the states can resolve inter-state disputes without the Centre’s intervention.”[i]

This pact which has been looked at as ‘historical victory’ for Telangana for convincing the neighbouring states is in fact one of the most blatant and outright violations of India’s environmental laws. Tummidihetti Project & Medigadda Project featured in the agreement have long history of gross irregularities and violations exposed by several apex agencies as well as media. SANDRP has visited these project sites multiple times, studied and written extensively about the projects and also repeatedly sent submissions to Chief Minister of Maharashtra pointing out the violations. The agreement is also being signed, keeping the affected people and also people in the Godavari river basin in two states completely in the dark. Some of the links for these articles are given at the end of this article. Continue reading “Proposed Maharashtra Telangana Inter-state Water sharing Agreement of Aug 23, 2016: In complete violation of people’s rights & environmental laws of India”

Agriculture · Climate Change · Dams · Ministry of Environment and Forests

Farmers, Rivers and the Environment in Union Budget 2016-17

Above: Canals of Tillari Project, on of the AIBP Project supported in Union Budget 2016-17, unused and derelict Photo: Parineeta Dandekar

Massive expenditure on Large Dams will only help contractors

The Union Budget 2016-17 presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Feb 29, 2016 seems to be promising in its thrust and focus towards farmers and the farming sector of the country. For a sector which employs about 55% of the work force of the country, this priority is much needed and one which holds a promise of a number of multiplier effects. He stated, “We are grateful to our farmers for being the backbone of our food security. We need to move beyond food security and give our farmers a sense of “Income Security”.” This is particularly required when the farmers are in dire states as they are today, many of them facing four consecutive crop failures, Kharif 2014, Rabi 2015, Kharif 2015 and Rabi 2016.  In 2015, on average 52 farmers committed suicide every single day in India.[1]

And hence, focus on farming is indeed a positive step. As Maharashtra State Water Resources Minister for State Vijay Shivtare once told me, “We are not very bothered about the high costs of Lift Irrigation Schemes per se. If they work well, and result in prosperous farmers, it would mean more agricultural implements, more Tractors, more vehicles, better homes etc., increasing the government’s revenue at the end of the day.” (“If they work well” was the operative part here, which has seldom materialized in Maharashtra). A Prosperous Farmer and strong farming economy can help all sectors.

Mr. Jaitley opened his budget speech with an Agenda to “Transform India”, based on nine pillars. Foremost pillar is ‘Agriculture and farmers’ welfare, with a focus on doubling farmers’ income in five years, by 2022. The total allocation for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is Rs 35, 984 Crores.

Finance Minister rightly diagnosed that “Irrigation is the critical input for increasing agricultural production and productivity.” Out of 141 million hectares of net cultivated area, only 46% is covered with irrigation and that there is a “need to address optimal utilization of water resources, create new irrigation infrastructure, conserve soil fertility, value addition and connectivity from farm to markets.”

For ensuring this, “Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana” will be implemented in mission mode through which 28.5 lakh hectares will be brought under irrigation”. A major part of this will be through “Fast tracking and Implementation of 89 irrigation projects under AIBP (Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Program) which have been languishing. These will help irrigate 80.6 Lakh hectares. These projects will need Rs 17,000 Crores next year and 86,500 Crores in next five years. 23 of these will be completed before 31st March 2017.”

So, in the coming 5 years, a whopping Rs 86,500 Crores of the taxes collected from all Indians and at least a part of the Krishi Kalyan Cess at 0.5% all taxable services will go into AIBP Projects, with over Rs 17,000 Crores being allocated in 2016-17 itself. This is highly problematic. AIBP was started by P. Chidambaram in 1996 and in two decades since then, it has not delivered anything susbstantial except huge bank balances for contractors, as also for the engineers, bureaucrats and politicians,hand in glove with the contractors. CAG reports have repeatedly highlighted this reality  in case of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and now possibly Madhya Pradesh. In fact, this was the very plank on which BJP came to power in Maharashtra. But Arun Jaitely seems to have no new ideas to offer here, except treading on the same path.

While it is clear that the government cannot abandon all incomplete projects, before it decides to spend more good money after already sunk costs on incomplete projects, it needs to halt more Major and Medium irrigation projects and undertake a credible, independent review of why the projects were incomplete for so long, what were the loop holes, what are the lessons learned from past mistakes, which projects are worth going ahead, in what form. And finally, which need  to be abandoned. Without doing such an exercise, the money allocated for incomplete projects is not going to help the farmers.

  1. Massive Support for AIBP Projects in Union Budget 2016 17 is unwarranted

Rs 86,500 Crores over 5 years is a massive amount. Will it be able to ensure promised Irrigation? Which are these AIBP Projects? Why do they need so much support from the Center? How have they performed till now? Where are they located? Is this expenditure wise?

Here is a snapshot of some of the 89 AIBP Projects, maximum of which, 13, come from Maharashtra. Maharashtra has had enough bad publicity following the Dam Scam but more importantly, it now has a Chief Minister, also from BJP, who openly stated in the State Assembly on July 21, 2015 that “We have built Large dams everywhere without thinking of feasibility or water availability” and that “Large Dams are not the road ahead”. Devendra Fadanvis wisely separated Large Dams from actual Irrigation and said: “We pushed large dams, not irrigation, this has to change”.[2] He has spearheaded a considerably successful program that focuses on small scale interventions for harvesting and recharging water known as Jal Yukta Shivar Yojana.

With this context, it is ironic and deeply troubling that maximum Large Irrigation Projects under AIBP come from Maharashtra. The name “Accelerated Irrigation Benefit” is also ironic as many of these projects have been going on for over 2-3 decades, have seen huge costs escalations, corruption charges, question marks about their viability, desirability, optimality, quality and final effectiveness.

Out of 149 AIBP Projects across the country, 89 projects are active, out of which 46 projects have been prioritized in the Union Budget. 23 Priority I Projects are to be completed by 2016-17 and additional 23 Priority II Projects are to be completed by 2019-20. Of these 46 Projects, maximum 13 projects come from Maharashtra.

A brief snapshot of some AIBP Projects in Maharashtra:

No. Project District Issue
1.                      Tillari Interstate Project Sindhudurg Based in hilly tracts of Western Ghats, highly unviable project, very low irrigation efficiency, terrain not suitable for large dams, Protests, Land Acquisition problems, 
2.                      Bembla Major Project[3] Yavatmal Huge Corruption Charges, Work ongoing since last 24 years. High cost escalations. Cracked canal Lining due to poor quality work. Enquiry ordered against Contractor for substandard work.
3.                      Tarali Major Irrigation Project Satara Whistle Blower of Maharashtra Dam Scam, then-Serving Chief Engineer Mr. Vijay Pandhare inspected construction of Tarali Project and stated that compressive strength of all 66 cores of the dam is as low as 42% when a difference in core strength by 1-2% is considered serious. This indicates corruption, use of less cement and institutionalised ill-intent. He officially wrote letter against these happenings. No action taken.
4.                      Dhom Balkawadi Satara Contract of Canal works given to a close relative of Ajit Pawar, Former Deputy CM and Minister of Water Resources. Several tendering lacuna exposed by officials.
5.                      Arjuna Medium Project Ratnagiri Massive cost and time escalations, unviable project in hilly terrain, corruption charges, rehabilitation issues not settled.

In addition to these, cost escalations of Lower Wardha, Lower Panzara, Nandur Madhyameshwar II (which will need 3 dams in the upstream) are also well known. (Link to  all projects in References below)

Across the country, but more sharply so in Maharashtra, Large Irrigation Projects have not automatically meant increased irrigated area, which is what the farmer needs. SANDRP has shown with official data that even after spending over Rs 600,000 crores on Major and Medium Dam and Canal Network between 1993-2010-11, net national canal irrigated area has been decreasing and not increasing.[4] There are several reasons for this.

1.jpg

Above: Canal irrigated area declining in the country Source: SANDRP

2

 Above: Groundwater dominates Irrigation in India, not dams and canals Source: IWMI

If Large Dam approach delivered all that it promised, then Maharashtra, with the largest number of large dams in the country would have had the highest irrigated area.  The actual picture is the opposite. Maharashtra has the lowest irrigated area in the country at about 18%. This is not a coincidence. As the dam scam highlighted, more large projects with complicated, ever-changing plans, far away offices and opaque funding mechanisms meant that local people had no clue about what was happening, leaving doors open for the unholy nexus of Babus, Contractors and Engineers to eat away public funds, without ensuring irrigation. Recent example is when the Maharashtra Government told the Hon High Court that they have resolved all of the financial backlog in areas like Marathwada and Vidarbha,  but the PHYSICAL backlog remains nearly the same. So is money for large irrigation projects an answer in this scenario?

While three major projects from Vidarbha (Bawanthadi, Bembla and Lower Wardha) included in AIBP will receive huge support from the Center, the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) faces some of the most serious charges of corruption, cost and time escalations, as highlighted by a series of government appointed committees and even CAG. Jan Manch, an NGO from  Vidarbha which was instrumental in exposing the scam clearly stated that problems of projects here run deeper. Money is not an easy fix.

So why are the same projects being pushed in the name of farmers when it is demonstrated in Maharashtra that farmers are NOT benefiting from these projects? Cynics would point this out as another Jumlaa! Again, in the same state, the power of small scale water harvesting structures and people’s participation have shown how quickly things can change. Maharashtra still needs to complete Anti-Corruption Bureau Inquiry against several Large Dams, it needs to work on an Integrated State Water Plan and, as per orders of the Hon High Court, it can undertake new Projects only as per the provisions of this plan, it needs to take transparent and credible action regarding its own enquiry reports, which includes Special Investigation Team Report, CAG Report on Irrigation Projects dated 2013, etc. Unless all these steps are taken, and when small scale interventions are demonstrating their impacts, what is the logic behind putting huge public resources on the same approach?

Projects in other states like Sardar Sarovar, Narmada Sagar, Omkareshwar and Maheshwar Projects in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have not resettled the oustees and has used repressive mechanism to still fill the dams. It has been rapped by the Courts. Local communities in Manipur have been opposing dams there and have gone to the National Green Tribunal against Thaubal Dam.

In this context, maximum allocation of funds for Large Irrigation Projects in the Union Budget is clearly, neither convincing nor beneficial to farmers.

Other Schemes included under PMKSY with budgeted expenses for 2016-17 are

  • Har Khet ko Pani: Rs 500 Crores
  • Per Drop more crop: Rs 2340 Crores
  • Integrated Watershed Management: Rs 1500 Crores
  1. Some Positive water related steps in the Budget:
  • A major program for sustainable management of GW with allocation of Rs 6000 Crores and proposed for multilateral finding: Although the amount budgeted is hardly comparable to AIBP Projects, when contribution of groundwater in irrigation is much larger than surface water! We do not really need World Bank funding for this, we should be able to do this on our own.
  • A dedicated Long -term Irrigation Fund will be created in NABARD with initial corpus of Rs 20,000 Cores. Unfortunately, NABARD has no specific social and environmental policies and has been funding projects without attention to the key governance issues.
  • 5 lakh farm ponds and dug wells in rain fed areas and 10 lakh compost pits through MNEREGA.
  • Allocation for MNREGA is Rs 38500 crores, in reality this is much less than the actual demand and also less than what was actually spent last year. Last year, the actual spending on the programme was Rs 41,169 crore. The additional spending of Rs 6,470 crore is the pending liability and if adjusted the actual allocation in 2016-17 drops to Rs 32,030 crore—less than what was allocated in 2015-16. MNREGA allocation should have been higher.
  • Organic farming to be promoted: Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana 5 lakh acres under organic farming in 3 years with allocation of around Rs 412 crores. While more areas under organic farming is welcome, the target is more un-ambitious and allocation most meager. As Jayapal Reddy (Secy, confederation of kisan organisations) says we need aid for increasing carbon content in soil all across India.
  • Incentives for enhancement of Pulse production. Rs 500 Crores under National Food Security Mission to pulses. Districts covered increased to 622. This is a specifically encouraging step taken as Pulse Farming is mostly rainfed, require low fertilizer inputs, contributes to protein security, is climate friendly. We spent about Rs 15,000 Crores this year to import pulses and a focused plan for procurement and assured MSP will be of a great help. But the FM could have been much more ambitious here. A similar scheme was needed for oilseeds too.
  • Access to markets is critical for farmer incomes. Unified Agri Marketing Scheme has been announced where a common e-platform will be developed for 585 regulated wholesale markets. Amendments in APMC Acts are a prerequisite for joining. On the 14th April Birthday of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Unified Platform dedicated to Nation.
  • Revised norms of assistance under National Disaster Response Fund in April 2015.
  • Special focus on adequate and timely flow of credit to farmers. Against target of 8.5 Lakh Crores in 2015 16, the target of agri credit 2016-17 will be Rs 9 lakh Crores.
  • Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana providing greater cover against natural calamities at a low premium. Provision of Rs 5500 Crores in Budget 2016-17. However, the amount originally estimated to cover all farmers was Rs 17,600 crore. Why this lower allocation?
  1. Where are the Rivers?

In NDA’s first budget in 2014-15, when Ganga Arati and rhetoric on Ganga cleaning were at their peak, the Finance Minister had said during his budget speech: “ Rivers form the lifeline of our country. They provide water not only for producing food for the multitudes but also drinking water.” [5]

This year however, there is no mention of Rivers, not even Ganga. However, Namami Gange Plan/ National Ganga Plan has been allocated Rs 2250 Crores in the year 2016-17. The plan itself remains unclear. A plan based on Sewage Treatment Plants alone does not hold promise for Ganga with Rs 2000 Crores budgetary support, or Rs 20,000 Crores, like the money we have spent in the past years, corresponding to declining water quality of the river.

Inland Waterways Plan: The much-talked about Plan pushed by Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Mr. Nitin Gadkari would be getting around 350 Crores in 2016-17 as the combined budget for Sagaramala (Ports project) and Inland Waterways is pitched at 800 Crores and Sagarmala is budgeted at 450 Crores. Inland Waterways Program is being pushed without a thought being given to rivers in which they will operate. It is raising some very crucial questions, elaborated here: Digging Our Rivers’ Graves?[6]

Interlinking of Rivers Plan: The Plan has not been mentioned in the budget and the scheme does not feature in the further discussions. However, the Center is pursuing the project, disregarding ecological cost, social costs, financial costs and interstate conflicts.

It looks like Budget 2016-17 has no special announcements for rivers. However, plans like 100 Urban Rejuvenation Mission (Amrut and 100 Smart Cities) have been allocated a massive Rs 7296 Crores this FY. Projects like Smart Cities, Highways Project, Inland Waterways all have a strong link and impact on life support systems like rivers and these needed to be seriously addressed. India has no policy for Urban Rivers, and this has meant that rivers are common grounds for encroachment, pollution and extraction, leading to their destruction, like the Ganga, among others.

  1. Environment in Union Budget 2016-17

While the Environment Minister was one of the first Ministers to official hail Union Budget as “Visionary”, it is a bit sad to see that Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEF and CC) does not feature in the list of Important Ministries annexed to Finance Minister’s Speech, nor does a single Scheme from MoEF and CC feature in the list of Important schemes.

MoEF and CC gets a slightly higher budget than the massively slashed budget for the past two years. However, as Down to Earth has pointed out, there is a hitch here: “The Budget document shows that allocations to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) have continued to rise, from Rs 1,681.60 crore in last year’s budget to Rs 2,250.34 crore in 2016-17. But most of this Rs 570-crore increase has come in the form of planned revenue expenditure (salary and other operational expenses), which has risen by Rs 540 crore to Rs 1,944.75 crore this year. This leaves an increase of only Rs 30 crore divided between planned capital expenditure estimates (expenditure on schemes and programmes) and non-planned estimates. In fact, planned capital expenditure saw a dip in comparison to actual expenditure undertaken during fiscal year 2014-15.”[7]

Some Climate Change initiates like National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), have seen an increased allocation. Of the Rs 180 Crores for Climate Change initiatives, Climate Change Action Programme (CCAP) has been allotted Rs 30 crore, the National Mission on Himalayan Studies Rs 50 crore and the National Adaptation Fund Rs 100 crore. According to Down to Earth, “While this is more than the Rs 160 crore allocated last year, there is no provision to cover the revised estimates of total expenditure of Rs 136.79 crore for the CCAP and Rs 115 crore for the National Adaptation Fund.”

There has been an upward spike in the National Clean Energy Fund, constituted mainly by Coal  Peat & lignite Cess, which has seen increase from Rs 50 to 100 Rs/tonne in 2014-15, further to 200 Rs/tonne is 2015-16 to 400 Rs/tonne in 2016-17. It is reported that it is this fund which will be support Inland Waterways Project, which is likely to destroy our remaining rivers. It will be hugely ironical if Clean Energy Fund levied on coal because of its environmental impact is used for Inland transport of Flyash and Coal from Rivers, as envisioned in the Inland Waterways Plan!

Budget of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has also been increased considerably from Actual 2014-15: Rs 515 Crores, Revised Estimates 2015-16: Rs 262 Crores and Budgeted Expenditure of 2016-17 at 5036 Crores.

~

All in all, the massive thrust and support for large dam and canal network which has not delivered in past remains one of the most problematic parts of the Budget. The focus of farmers, encouragement to pulse farmers, increased decentralized procurement, increased Clean Environment Cess, increased allocations (marginal) to MoEF and CC and CC initiatives are welcome steps. Finally, a budget is as good as its implementation. A look at achievements of the last year indicates that that several schemes are still listed as under progress. While the aim of increasing farmers’ incomes by double in 2022 sounds very strong and positive, it does remind one of the BJP’s election promised of ensuring 50% profit over costs to farmers, unmet till date and now abandoned. Agricultural growth rate has not achieved more than 4% in any five year plans, and this target will need about 15% Compound Annnual Growth rate in farmers’ income, that looks nearly impossible.

It is also sobering to note, as Devinder Sharma says, that in 17 states of the country, farmers average monthly income is 1666 Rs. Doubling it in five years would mean 3332 Rs a month, nearly the same as five years back, if adjusted against inflation!

  • Parineeta Dandekar, Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP

 END NOTES:

State-wise details on AIBP Projects here: http://mowr.gov.in/writereaddata/1-1-1_Completing%20priority%20projects.pdf

[1] http://thewire.in/2016/03/01/agriculture-sector-needs-more-than-just-income-security-for-farmers-23273/

[2] https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/we-pushed-large-dams-not-irrigation-cm-fadnavis-assembly-speech/

[3] http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/proposed-in-1992-bembla-irrigation-project-still-incomplete-112101802012_1.html

[4] https://sandrp.in/irrigation/Failure_of_Big_Irrigation_Projects_and_Rainfed_Agriculture_0510.pdf

[5] https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/rivers-and-water-in-union-budget-2014-15/

[6] https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/digging-our-rivers-graves/

[7] http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/budget-2016-17-loose-change-for-climate-change-52973

Agriculture · Dams · Groundwater · Interlinking of RIvers · Krishna River · Maharashtra

Maharashtra’s Water Sector in 2015: Did anything change with the government?

Above: A huge protest march against water release to Marathwada Photo: Zee 24 Taas

In 2015, with the change in the ruling party after 15 long years, Maharashtra had a massive opportunity to break free from the crisis-ridden and scam-ridden image of its water sector. Water and dams have been central behind the embarrassing loss of Congress-NCP government in the 2014 Loksabha elections. But could the ruling BJP government actually deliver such a “Paradigm Shift” as it likes to call it? Is there light at the end of the tunnel for the state that is facing not only management scams, but repeated droughts and extreme weather events?

We try to review happenings around water, dams and rivers in Maharashtra for the past year 2015 and to look for a possible direction where the sector is heading, trying to fathom what it holds for the rivers and the people of the state. Continue reading “Maharashtra’s Water Sector in 2015: Did anything change with the government?”

Agriculture · Dams · Irrigation · Madhya Pradesh · Maharashtra · Marathwada

Pulse Farmers: Custodians of Fertility, Water and Climate-friendly Agriculture

Above: A rainfed Tur (Arhar/Pigeon Pea) field in Amravati in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra Photo: Parineeta Dandekar, October 2015

Pulse prices are raging in Indian markets, leading to outrage from urban customers. Newspapers are full of coverage, cartoons and puns on pulse prices. The fate of rural population facing successive droughts which has to buy pulses is better left to imagination. If some benefits of this price hike were to reach actual pulse farmers, it would have been some consolation. But for now, as Pulse farmer Ashok Pawar from Osmanabad tells me, the Tur (Arhar/Pigeon Pea) that is in the market is last year’s. It was sold to the middle men (Adatya in Marathi) and market committee at a low rate as the production was dismal due to late rains and drought followed by unseasonal rainfall. This happened in 2013 too. Tur from 2014 is now being sold at a record price, the farmer watches this helplessly. Continue reading “Pulse Farmers: Custodians of Fertility, Water and Climate-friendly Agriculture”

Maharashtra · Marathwada · Monsoon

State says 59.9% rainfall, IMD says 73%: Highlights and discrepancies of Maharashtra’s Monsoon 2015

30th September marks the end of June-September South West summer monsoon in India and Maharashtra. The 2015 summer monsoon has proved to be the worst monsoon in the last six years for India. Rainfall deficits are seen in all major food-producing regions like UP (47% deficit), Bihar (28% deficit), Punjab and Haryana (32% deficit). This is India’s second successive year of high rainfall deficit, and only the fourth time this has happened since 1901.

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Monsoon retreats from the country and the states on various dates. Some welcome showers are falling and are further expected in Maharashtra in the coming weeks, but the summer monsoon figures are now set. According to meteorologist Akshay Deoras. “Rain counters are refreshed on 1st October and new count of post monsoon season or winter monsoon season will start now.”

First week of October calls for an analysis of the summer monsoon, its performance in June, July, August and September and the implications this holds for various sectors.

People of Maharashtra have heard about, seen and experienced the dismal monsoon of 2015. Marathwada fared the worst, and was number one deficit state in the country at 52% deficit for a long time. However, at the end of monsoon, deficit of Marathwada is 40%. This is more worrisome as it comes piggybacking the 42% rainfall deficit in Marathwada in 2014, with rainfall of just 398.8 mm.

But, in order to understand the situation better, if one tries to analyse rainfall figures from various reputed official sources, one is taken aback by the disparities. We looked at official Indian Meteorological Department[i] figures, official Maharashtra Agriculture Department[ii] (Rainfall Recording and Analysis) figures and numbers from the 49th Cabinet Committee Note of the Government of Maharashtra dated 30th September 2015 accessed by SANDRP[iii].

All are concerned with Monsoon rainfall from 1-6-2015 to 30-9-2015. All of these contain different figures!

Indian Meteorological Department: IMD generates its rainfall data for Maharashtra based on its approximately 878 rain gauging stations spread across the state[iv]. According to IMD, regions of Maharashtra fall in rainfall deficit this year of varying proportions. Konkan region shows deficit of 31% with 2914 mm rainfall, Madhya Maharashtra shows deficit of 33% with 488.1 mm rainfall, Vidarbha shows deficit of 11% with 848.2 mm rainfall, but the highest deficit is Marathwada at 40% with 412.4 mm rainfall.

3According to IMD, between 1st June to 30th September, Maharashtra has received 732.5 mm rainfall of its 1007.3 mm average normal rainfall, which is 73% of average rainfall (27% deficit).

5 Districts that have received 50% or less of the average rainfall include

Kolhapur (803.4mm, -54%)

Solapur (231.8 mm, -51%)

Beed (287.4 mm, -50%)

Latur (372 mm, -51%) and

Parbhani (344.9 mm, -54%)

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From http://hydro.imd.gov.in/hydrometweb/ . Thanks to Akshay Deoras for indicating this

The region-wise, month-wise rainfall in Maharashtra this monsoon, as per IMD figures was as per following table.

Rainfall, mm Konkan-Goa Vidarbha Madhya Maharashtra Marathawada
June Normal 663 161 140 138
Actual 781 254 177 119
July Normal 1147 318.9 247.8 192.5
Actual 581.5 137.8 111.7 26.8
Aug Normal 759.6 305.7 289.1 188.2
Actual 388.7 288.9 56 112.2
Sept Normal 344.7 169 152.4 164.2
Actual 253.8 167.5 143.4 154
Monsoon Normal 2914.3 954.6 729.3 682.9
Actual 2005.0 848.2 488.1 412.4

Where is Madhya Maharashtra? Incidentally, IMD classifies the country in various categories.  Maharashtra includes Konkan, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidarbha. Madhya Maharashtra includes Nashik and Pune Divisions of whopping 10 districts, from Nandurbar, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nashik, Pune, Ahmednagar, Satara, Solapur, Sangli and Kolhapur. This region is not uniform in any sense, neither rainfall-wise, nor geographically nor is it “Madhya (Central) Maharashtra”. Any assessment based on a Madhya Maharashtra is meaningless in a sense as it clubs Kolhapur, at the southern tip of Maharashtra whose normal rainfall is more than 1500 mm with Dhule at the northern end of the state whose normal rainfall is about 500 mm and includes areas of Tapi, Narmada, Krishna and Godavari basins. It is time IMD adds some rationale to its meteorological divisions in India.

Maharashtra Agriculture Department: Agriculture Department of GoM runs a very useful website:  maharain.gov.in which displays detailed data from its Rainfall Recording and Analysis Department. It states: “The department of Agriculture, Maharashtra State initiated the project for recording daily rainfall in the state in year 1998. Initially rainfall data was recorded at tehsil level and subsequently same functionality was extended to circle level from 2013 as GoM has installed rain gauge at every circle. Circle officer sends daily rain data using mobile through SMS. In addition to SMS rain data can be entered directly on the web portal.”

Prima facie it appears that Agriculture Department may have a better spread in the over 40,000 villages in Maharashtra than IMD’s 878 rain gauging stations.7According to Agriculture Department, of the 353 administrative blocks in the state (taluks):

  • 65 bocks have received rainfall less than 50% rainfall (18.4% blocks). Most of these are concentrated in Solapur and Marathwada region.
  • 174 blocks have received rainfall between 50-75% rainfall.
  • Just 23 blocks have received 100% or above of normal, and these are concentrated in Vidarbha and Nandurbar, Northern Maharashtra.6

Cabinet Note of Government of Maharashtra, 49th Meeting, 30th Sept 2015: It reports that state has received 678.5 mm rain of the avergae 1131 mm, that is 59.9% or 60% of the average. But as we saw above, IMD says its 732.5mm of average 1007.3 mm, 73% of the average. There is no explanation for such widely different figures in the cabinet note.

Agricultural experts like Nishinkant Bhalerao states that the 60% magic figure will make any drought aid difficult and that it masks the monthly disparities which very badly affected this season’s Kharif. For example, Marathwada received barely 14% of its July average rainfall, a mere 28 mm, but cumulatively mainly due to late Spetmeber rains, this anamoly is hidden.

According to the note:

  • 13 districts of Dhule, Nandurbar, Pune, Aurangabad, Buldana, Akola, Washim, Amravati, Wardha, Nagpur, Bhandara, Gondia, Gadchiroli received between 76-100% average rainfall,
  • 17 districts of Thane, Palghar, Raigad Ratnagiri, Sindhudurga, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar, Satara, Sangli, Jalna, Beed, Latur, Osmanabad, Nanded, Hingoli, Yavatmal, Chandrapur eceived between 51-75% average rainfall and
  • In 4 districts, rainfall has been less than 50%, these include Nashik, Solapur, Kolhapur and Parbhani.
  • Strangely, IMD states Nashik received 729 mm rainfall till 30th Sept and has just 20% rainfall deficit but for the same period, Agriculture Department shows Nashik has received just 484.8 mm rainfall, and shows a rainfall deficit of about 52%! The difference between the two values is whopping 244.2 mm, more than entire seasonal rainfall of Solapur!!
  • IMD note also includes Beed (just about here at -50%) and Latur (-51%) in less than 50% rain, these are not included in the cabinet note.
  • Agriculture Department statistics includes Osmanabad in less 50% rainfall bracket, but it is not included in Cabinet Note

Cabinet note talks about 355 blocks, while Agri Dept considers 353 blocks and Government of India[v] considers 351 blocks in Maharashtra!

Sr. No Cabinet Note, 30th September 2015 Agricultural Department Government of Maharashtra, 1st October 2015
Blocks with less than 25% rainfall 1 1
Blocks with 26-50% rainfall 49 64
Blocks with 51-75% rainfall 171 174
76-100% Rainfall 105 91
100% or more 29 23

While discrepancies in these sources is not the subject matter of this discussion, there is definitely a need to streamline and improve monsoon rainfall reporting. This is especially important at a time when policies, drought assistance, insurance payment to farmers and water allocation decisions are heavily dependent on rainfall figures. If we cannot get our rainfall figures right, it raises a lot of questions about our capacity to monitor and understand the most important weather event of the year, on which lives of over 50% of the population directly depend! There is a vast difference not only in observed rainfall, but also supposed normal rainfall figures, which skew up the percentages.

Below: Notable differences between IMD and State Govt Data

District IMD (mm) State Agriculture (mm) Difference in Actual Rainfall (mm)
  Normal Actual Rainfall % of Normal Normal Actual Rainfall % of Normal  
Dhule 523.5 533.5 101.9% 530.5 448.2 84.5% 85.0
Nashik 912.2 729.0 80% 1013 484.8 47.9% 244.2
Satara 723.8 455.7 63% 834.2 539.5 64.7% 83.3
Solapur 474.2 231.8 49% 488.8 193.9 39.7% 37.9
Kolhapur 1737.6 803.4 46% 1772.4 634.8 35.8% 168.6
Yavatmal 855 663.3 78% 911.4 479.1 52.6% 184.2
Nagpur 923.9 970 105% 988.5 938.2 94.9% 31.8
  • Solapur gets less than 1972 rainfall: According to Agriculture Dept, Solapur has received low rainfall of barely 193.9 mm from June-Sept. This is on top of 25% rainfall deficit in 2014 monsoon. In the epic drought of 1972 also, Solapur received more than this at 224.9 mm rainfall.[vi] This year, Solapur has received less than half of the rainfall Rajasthan received! This also seems to be the lowest monsoon rainfall Solapur received since 1901!
  • For two consecutive years, Parbhani has received less than 50% rainfall (326.9 mm this year). In fact it’s June –July August Rainfall this year is lowest in the century.
  • The district which has shown the highest deficit is Kolhapur. As per Agriculture Department data, it has received just 634.8 mm rainfall, 35.8% of its normal average monsoon rainfall. Strangely, IMD shows 803.4 mm rainfall this monsoon for Kolhapur, which is 46% of normal. The difference of 168.6 mm is too huge to be ignored and needs to be explained.

Reservoir Storages:

  • Reservoirs storages at Maharashtra state level are at 56% of live storage capacity right now. But this is again masking the regional disparities. Marathwada has just 15% storage and 9 months ahead before the next monsoon. Four of its reservoirs are at 0 Live Storage (Mazalgaon, Manjara, Nimn Terna, Nimn Dudhna). The biggest Dam Jayakwadi is at a mere 7% storage.
  • Nashik division upstream of Marathwada also has relatively low storage at 59%.
  • Pune is slightly better at 61%.
  • Nagpur, Amravati and Konkan divisions are above 70%.

Some Contingency Planning steps:

  • Even in this situation, westward diversion of water from drought-hit Bhima-Krishna basin to high rainfall Konkan region and down to sea by Koyna and Tata dams continues, with no attempt to stop this completely wasteful diversion in this dry season.
  • No information is available in public domain about district-wise planning of available water resources till the commencement of next monsoon
  • No strong decision has been taken by the government about restricting or regulating sugarcane crushing which will commence from 15th October and which will consume lakhs of liters of water in the most severely drought-affected parts of the state.
  • No strong decision on limiting new area under sugarcane in Solapur and Marathwada regions, which will be planted after this harvesting and crushing season.

While IMD states that Maharashtra has received more than 70% average rainfall and State Government pegs it at around 60%, the reality is that water situation in Maharashtra especially Western Maharashtra, Nashik region and Marathwada is dismal. Erratic rainfall with long dry spell in July and August has affected Kharip crops, groundwater levels and surface water storages. There is a need to immediately work on a participatory contingency planning of the available water resources for the coming year.

This planning cannot happen in a closed door manner by the cabinet or group of ministers, but should include and respond to water users and farmers and should be built on the principles of equity and sustainability. MWRRA also needs to get into its act. The people of the state are waiting for such an initiatives from the government and MWRRA.

– Parineeta Dandekar, with inputs from Himanshu Thakkar

END NOTES:

[i] http://www.imd.gov.in/section/nhac/dynamic/Monsoon_frame.htm

[ii] http://maharain.gov.in

[iii] Shared by Shri. Nishikant Bhalerao, Editor of Adhunik Kisan

[iv] http://www.imdpune.gov.in/research/ndc/rainfall/DRF_STN.htm

[v] http://indiawater.gov.in/IMISReports/NRDWPDistrictMain.aspx?IState=018&StName=MAHARASHTRA

[vi] http://www.indiawaterportal.org/met_data/

Climate Change · Dams · Maharashtra

We pushed large dams, not irrigation, this has to change: CM Fadnavis’ Assembly Speech

“Maharashtra has the country’s 40% large dams, but 82% area of the state is rain fed. We have moved away from our vision of watershed and conservation…We did not think about hydrology, geology and topography of a region before pushing large dams everywhere. But this has to change”

These are not the words of an activist or water researcher. This was said by Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, during Monsoon Assembly Session of Maharashtra on 21st July 2015. Continue reading “We pushed large dams, not irrigation, this has to change: CM Fadnavis’ Assembly Speech”