State ap­proves pol­icy to de­velop rest houses & dam sites

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Dhaval Kulka­rni dhaval.kulka­[email protected]­

To mo­bilise rev­enues to fin­ish work on long-pend­ing ir­ri­ga­tion projects, the state Cab­i­net, on Tues­day, ap­proved a pol­icy for the de­vel­op­ment of rest houses and dam sites owned by the state wa­ter re­sources de­part­ment on a com­mer­cial ba­sis.

The state gov­ern­ment is also con­sid­er­ing rais­ing of funds through sources like mon­eti­sa­tion of surplus ir­ri­ga­tion land and sale of sand ex­tracted through de­silt­ing of reser­voirs to com­plete over 300 pend­ing projects at an es­ti­mated cost of Rs 84,000 crore.

These sites with tourism po­ten­tial, in­clude 146 rest houses, in­spec­tion bun­ga­lows, in­spec­tion huts and colonies at ir­ri­ga­tion project sites. They will now be de­vel­oped on a pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ship (PPP) ba­sis.

Of­fi­cials said, it would gen­er­ate rev­enue for the main­te­nance of these dams, thus free­ing up re­sources to com­plet­ing pend­ing projects, cre­ate em­ploy­ment for the lo­cals, and boost tourism in these ar­eas.

Many of these sites are also in a poor con­di­tion due to lack of re­pairs and main­te­nance.

E-ten­der­ing will be con­ducted for sites se­lected in con­sul­ta­tion with the Ma­ha­rash­tra Tourism De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (MTDC). The lease will be for a pe­riod be­tween 10 to 30 years and sub­ject to con­di­tions like not al­low­ing the de­vel­oper to sub-lease the land and not pledg­ing it as a col­lat­eral for loans.

Ma­ha­rash­tra has over 3,000 com­pleted ir­ri­ga­tion projects, in­clud­ing 138 large dams and 255 and 2,862 medium and small ir­ri­ga­tion projects re­spec­tively. Of these, many are lo­cated in the Sahyadri and Sat­puda ranges and at pic­turesque sites with great tourism po­ten­tial.

How­ever, it has to com­plete 313 on­go­ing ir­ri­ga­tion projects, which have a bal­ance cost of Rs 84,000 crore.

“Our an­nual bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion is only around Rs 8,000 crore, which along with Cen­tral aid for projects, barely meets over 10% of our re­quire­ments. Hence, we need to look at al­ter­nate sources of rev­enue,” said a se­nior of­fi­cial from the wa­ter re­sources de­part­ment.

“The Cab­i­net’s de­ci­sion will help make ir­ri­ga­tion projects self-sus­tain­ing by en­sur­ing that the money raised through this can be used for main­te­nance of dams. This will also pre­vent en­croach­ment at these sites, cre­ate em­ploy­ment and open up state re­sources for the de­vel­op­ment of on­go­ing projects,” he fur­ther said.

The of­fi­cial said the state is also eval­u­at­ing a pro­posal to mon­e­tise the surplus land of the wa­ter re­sources de­part­ment to gen­er­ate rev­enue. In ad­di­tion to that, dams and ir­ri­ga­tion projects will be de-silted and the ex­tracted sand will be sold to farm­ers and sev­eral other con­struc­tion in­dus­tries.

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