The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) set up a four-member panel to probe alleged irregularities in the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan (JSA), a flagship water conservation scheme Devendra Fadnavis government.
The government of Maharashtra has commenced a probe in the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan, a flagship scheme during the tenure of Devendra Fadnavis as the CM.
The MVA government constituted a 4-member committee on December 1, 2020, continuing with the decision of the state Cabinet to ascertain the type of inquiry necessary for the different works.
The panel was headed by the retired Additional Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar and included Sanjay Belsare, the chief engineer of the Water Resources Department.
Maharashtra Government Inquiry Into JYS Abhiyan
The Maha Vikas Aghadi government that succeeded the Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra treated the complaints levelled against the Jalyukt Shivar scheme.
After assuming power, the MVA government reportedly stopped funding this scheme. In the Cabinet meeting of October 2019, which CM Uddhav Thackeray chaired, the demand for an open inquiry into the alleged discrepancies in Shivar Yojana arose for the first time.
The State Water Conservation Department sources said a high-powered committee, set up to inquire into alleged irregularities in the water conservation project led by senior IAS officer Vijay Kumar, has presented its report to the government.
“It has found some irregularities in several JSA projects. The committee has suggested that the ACB should probe 1,000 works.
It has also recommended that inquiry into several hundred other works on technicalities and non-conforming of guidelines is needed,” a source in the department said.
THE CAG Report
The CAG of India had also objected to the work conducted under the Jalyukt Shivar Yojana. According to the CAG, while the project incurred around 9 thousand crore rupees, the groundwater level did not rise as proposed under the policy.
The scheme also faced allegations of a lack of transparency in its conduction. Purportedly, the implementation of this Abhiyan was sketchy in few instances.
In the report presented on the floor of the Maharashtra Legislature, the CAG observed that Jalyukt Shivar, who spent Rs.9633.75 crore, had failed to achieve its aim.
It inspected 1128 allowed works in 120 villages in 6 districts- Solapur, Palghar, Ahmednagar, Buldhana, Beed and Nagpur. Overall, the implementation of the project in 22,589 villages, with 6.41 lakh works, took place between December 2014 and March 2020. As per the CAG, the scheme had little impact on achieving water neutrality and increasing the groundwater level.
The CAG report said, “The storage capacity created under the now-scrapped Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyaan was insufficient to meet the targeted beneficiaries’ water requirements.”
According to The Indian Express, in 83 of the 120 villages selected for the study, the storage created was insufficient, gauging the village plan for drinking and irrigation.
Further, in 37 of the 83 villages, CAG noted that the shortage was due to less storage created than 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.
The JALYUKT SHIVAR ABHIYAN
Maharashtra has been witnessing increasing agricultural and drinking water stress in recent years. In 2014, Devendra Fadnavis, former Maharashtra Chief Minister had announced the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan.
This Yojana was the Government of Maharashtra’s program to provide water for all and make villages scarcity-free.
Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan promotes integration and coordination between government agencies and programs during planning and implementation and stresses people’s participation as critical.
The program aimed to make 5000 villages free of water scarcity every year. The scheme aimed at solving water woes of draught-prone regions is already a hit with farmers as many villages are inching towards becoming water-sufficient.
The ex-CM Welcomes the Investigation.
Devendra Fadnavis speaking at a press conference on Wednesday indicated that he welcomes the investigation.
He said, “I welcome the decision to probe the 950 works in the Jalyukta Shivar scheme. During my tenure, I had already given similar probe orders into 600 works.
The implementations of these schemes took place under district collectors, with an average cost of Rs 1 lakh to 1.25 lakh. Some seven departments in a collectorate were involved in the scheme.”
He also said that the new government, led by the Shiv Sena, did not support the scheme after coming to power last year. “It was people’s scheme.
The scheme would have been more successful had the (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government not stopped it midway”.