An expert committee has submitted the State’s first integrated water plan for the Godavari basin and 30 sub-basins of the river to the government, close to two years after the latter was censured by the Bombay High Court for not putting together an Integrated State Water Plan (ISWP). The court had also imposed ban on extending administrative approval to new irrigation projects till an integrated water plan is formulated.
The integrated water plan studies water use for all possible requirements and suggests long term measures. It sees the development of an entire basin instead of the earlier approach of developing the command area of a particular dam.
The plan submitted by the expert committee, headed by retired bureaucrat K.P. Bakshi, is a step towards preparing an ISWP. In its order dated July 13, 2015, the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court had noted that over 189 irrigation projects were sanctioned between 2007 and 2013 without an ISWP, which is mandatory as per the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Act, 2005.
The committee’s plan has also suggested guidelines to formulate similar plans for the Krishna, Tapi and Narmada rivers and west-flowing rivers in the Konkan region. The ISWP will be in place when all four plans are completed.
Sources said the State government expects the court to see this first step in a positive light. “It shows that this government is working as per the court’s directions. We might ask the HC to allow us to give permission to new projects at the next hearing,” an official said.
Expert committee member Pradeep Purandare said, “While creating the plan for the Godavari basin, we have explained the possible sites for irrigation projects, but have not fixed exact locations to avoid possible conflicts. The committee has been tasked with preparing a report to ensure sustainable development of water resources.”