State approves policy to develop rest houses & dam sites
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.