Fadnavis promised 5 lakh farm ponds. But his govt could manage to dig up only 5,000
One percent - that is the success rate of the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra vis-a-vis farm ponds.
Last year, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government said the state would get five lakh new farm ponds by May 2017. It is May already, and it has managed to dig up only 5,210 new ponds.
Maharashtra is among several Indian states hit by successive droughts. Acute water shortage in these states have made life difficult for farmers.
The failure is not restricted to Maharashtra alone: The Centre had announced an addition of 10 lakh farm ponds throughout the country in 2016-17. As of now though, only five lakh have been created.
These data came to the fore in reply to an application filed under the Right To Information by Tanmay Kanitkar, director of Parivartan, a Pune-based Non-governmental organisation.
While the central government pledge was made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during his 2016-17 budget speech, Fadnavis's promises came last year after the success of his 'Jalayukta Shivar' (Farms with water) scheme. He had also pledged support to those who demanded farm ponds.
Immediately after he took over as CM in 2014 , Fadnavis announced the flagship ‘Jalayukta Shivar’ to fight near-perennial drought situation.
While the Jalayukta Shivar scheme is being praised all over, the ground reality is different.
Out of the10 lakh farm ponds proposed throughout the country, only 5,78,589 have been dug.
Andhra Pradesh tops the list with 3,11,361 of them.
Jharkhand has created 92,509 farm ponds over the last one year.
West Bengal is third with 30,322 farm ponds.
“Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his budget speech for fiscal 2016-17, had announced that the central government will create more than 10 lakh farm ponds across the country in one year. Now that the year has ended, I wanted to check the progress of the work. The information I got under RTI was shocking. While the state government is busy patting its back over the phenomenal success of Jalayukta Shivar, it has completely ignored the farm ponds, the basic need of the farmers,” Kanitkar said.
However, the officials at the Chief Minister’s Officer (CMO) have denied that the state government is lagging behind in creating farm ponds in the state.
A CMO official who did not wish to be named said, “It seems there is some miscommunication on the issue. The target was never five lakh farm ponds, it was one lakh. So far, 27,000 farm ponds have been completed, while another 60,000 are under various stages of construction. All the farm ponds will be completed by 15 June.”
He said that the work is considered complete only after a third party audit report of the process. The government has appointed local engineering colleges and NGOs for this purpose.
“The work is not considered complete merely because the officials concerned have submitted the completion report. Unless the third party auditor gives a satisfactory completion report, it is considered to be incomplete. The information is sent to the central government only after we are satisfied by the third party report,” the official said.
“The government gives financial assistance of Rs 50,000 for every farm pond. The idea is that the work should be done by public participation,” the official added.