Pune: Following the reports published by Groundwater Survey and Development Authority (GSDA) which painted a grim picture about water availability in the State leading to accusation of corruption by the government in Jalyukta Shivar Scheme, Minister of Water Conservation Ram Shinde on Monday told media persons that GSDA data is based on age old methods and there is a need to use latest technologies to measure ground water so that a clear picture emerges.
According to GSDA report, by September-end, the water levels recorded at the observation wells in all 353 talukas showed that the groundwater levels in 13,984 villages in 252 of the 353 talukas in Maharashtra had fallen by 1 metre below the recorded average for the same period in the last five years. Shinde said,”The department, though a government department, is relying on methods developed in 1971. This is almost 50 years old and hence, there is need for changes in the way data is collected by the department. The data collected by us of the progress made by Jalyukt Shivar scheme uses technologies like geotagging and satellite imagery, which is better,” added Shinde.
Speaking about the parameters to judge the success of the scheme, Shinde said that people having doubts should go and talk to local villagers who are happy with the scheme. “The local villagers are satisfied and people should measure the use of water saved through Jalyukt Shivar schemes and used by locals for irrigation purpose,” he added. Shinde said that the GSDA report doesn’t portray a clear picture about the water situation in the State. “GSDA studied irrigation wells in only 3,900 villages and hence, it does not portray the picture of the entire state. Also, all these wells are from the villages where no work of Jal Yukta Shivar was undertaken,” he said. Speaking on allegations from opposite parties, Shinde said, “If the levels increase later, they will claim that it is because of rain. If the ground water level decreases, then the parties will blame our scheme.” He said although, the state received less than average rainfall this year, there seems to be an increase in the agricultural production this year, based on primary estimates.
“As per primary estimates, there will be an 11.51 per cent increase in Soybean production, 1.18 and 2 per cent increase in Mung and Urad production, while there is 8 per cent increase in the production of millet. Only because of Jalyukt Shivar works, that people could conserve water and cultivate these crops in increased capacity,” he claimed. He also said this year there has been an increase in power demand for irrigation which also shows that there is increased water available for irrigation. “Opposition should not misinterpret the data and misled the state,” said Shinde.