An excuse to privatize irrigation project
STARTED in 1984, the yet to be completed Nira Deoghar irrigation project in Maharashtra has run into rough weather. A recent judgement by the three-member water regulatory authority has put on hold the privatization of the project in Bhor taluka, Pune district.
Aimed at irrigating 45,000 hectares the project when conceived was to cost Rs 62 crore. By 2007, the state government had spent over Rs 450 crore on the project, which remained incomplete. Another Rs 870 crore was required to finish the project, claimed fresh official estimates. What remained was 5 per cent of dam construction and 164 km of canals. A water distribution network also had to be put in place. With state coffers drying up, Maharashtra needed an investment of Rs 36,630 crore to complete its over 1,200 incomplete projects.The government decided to seek private participation through an advertisement issued in September by the Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (mkvdc), a state body.
The recent judgement forced the corporation to withdraw its advertisement on December 17. But the regulatory authority's order is in conflict with a government resolution, which allows private sector participation in such projects (see box Who calls the shots).
|Who calls the shots?
Regulatory authority or the government resolution? The authority wants the resolution revised
|Government resolution in 2003||Maharashtra water resources regulation Act, 2005|
|Private developers can make changes in the quantum of water to be made available to users||Authority can determine water entitlements|
|Private developers can increase water tariff||Only authority can determine revisions|
|Permits recovery of capital cost through water tariff||Operations, maintenance recovery only|
|Ignores participation of water users association in planning and construction stage||Stresses on such participation|
|Source MWRRA/Case No 1 of 2008/1717, November 10, 2008 order of MWRRA|
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