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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : State to speed up water projects

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Wednesday, January 03, 2001


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State to speed up water projects

By Our Special Correspondent

JAIPUR, JAN. 2. Rajasthan proposes to speed up work on all inter- State water projects, including those on the Narmada, the Jaggar, the Mahi, the Siddmukh and the Yamuna, to meet the growing demand for water in the days ahead. The State, after six-month-long surveys by experts of the Irrigation Department has also identified as many as 35761 water sources including 14062 traditional water sources like step wells and ponds within the State for both revival and fresh construction.

The State Irrigation Minister, Mrs. Kamla, told newspersons here today that a holistic approach was being made towards conservation and harnessing of water on the basis of the State's new Water Policy, declared in September 1999. The water situation was grim in most areas in Rajasthan while in half a dozen districts the ground water position was very critical, she pointed out.

Mrs. Kamla claimed that it was for the first time, any State had carried out such extensive studies on the water sources. ``I personally monitored the work during the past six months'', she said revealing that now the list of the water structures had been passed on to the district Collectors, MPs, MLAs and Zila Pramukhs for follow up action. ``As such an estimated Rs. 1308 crores would be required to carry out the work on these structures'', she noted.

The Minister said that funds for revival of the traditional water sources would be available from the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission, besides the RIDF-6 (Rural Infrastructure Development Fund). Funds were also being made available from DRDA and the development funds of the MPs and the MLAs, she disclosed. In the drought relief operations priority was being given to conservation and repair of water sources. The Union Ministry of Rural development has promised to help, she said.

The 11th Finance Commission has sanctioned Rs. 53.62 crores to the State for construction of water structures like anicuts, check dams, bandhs, lakes and surface barriers. The NABARD has approved 52 of the 120 small irrigation projects identified in the State for development. A project to modernise the Gang Canal is being expedited while medium irrigation projects on the Gardra, Chakan, Bari Sendra and Sukli have been approved, the Minister said.

Mrs. Kamla said that Rajasthan's hopes for an early arrival of the Narmada waters soared after the recent Supreme Court verdict in favour of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The State is eligible for .5 MAF of the Narmada waters which would irrigate the desert districts of Barmer and Jalore. According to her the State was expecting the Narmada waters by 2004. ``We have to make certain changes in our original plan for the Narmada waters to make sure the judicious use of water'', she observed.

Rajasthan has to construct a 458 km canal to carry the Narmada waters and this would require an investment of Rs. 450 crores, the Minister disclosed. The irrigation potential from the Narmada in the State is estimated to be 2.50 lakh hectares.

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