The state water resources department’s demand for higher allocation in the 2021-22 Budget to expedite incomplete projects is likely to take a backseat as the ongoing pandemic and lockdown lead to revenue shortfall.
The water resources department has pitched for Rs 15,234-crore Budget which is an increase of Rs 5,234 crore compared to the last one. However, considering the funds shortfall, the finance department may agree for an additional allocation between Rs 2,558 crore and Rs 3,000 crore, officials indicated. The Budget allocation for the water resources department in 2019-20 was Rs 10, 235 crore. The department feels the Budget after a year should be raised to Rs 15,000 crore, considering the requirement of huge funds to complete the ongoing projects.
A senior official in the water resources department told The Indian Express, “The allocation index for the water resources department has never crossed 50 per cent in any single Budget. Successive governments have always given a rise between 15 and 25 per cent to the department.”
Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil acknowledged the challenges before the department to complete the ongoing projects. Last year, the government did not initiate any new big irrigation project. The incomplete works would require massive funds, Patil added.
According to the official statistics shared by the water resources ministry, “Across Maharashtra, there are a total of 313 small, medium and large irrigation projects. The funds required to complete these projects is over Rs 1 lakh crore.”
The list does not include the 26 irrigation projects, worth Rs 28,000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore, undertaken through the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchan Yojna and special grant for projects in 14 drought-hit districts.
The finance department has asked the water resources department to accommodate the financial allocations for projects that have to be taken up in the next financial year with higher priority to those where around 80 per cent work has already been done. This would ensure better fund management, sources said.
Earlier this month, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said there will be a shortfall of Rs 1 lakh crore in the 2021-22 Budget.
The statuses of the ongoing projects, along with funds requirement, are as follows: In Vidarbha, there are 123 projects for which Rs 43,560 crore is required; in the Marathwada region, there are 55 projects worth Rs 16,385 crore; and there are 135 projects in rest of the state that require Rs 49,445 crore.