Inform about irri projects completed & pending: HC to govt

Nagpur: Bombay high court’s Nagpur bench on Wednesday ordered the state government to notify within two weeks about the number of irrigation projects completed and pending.
The directives came when Loknayak Bapuji Aney Smarak Samiti’s (LBASS) hearing a PIL convene Avinash Kale through counsel Bharti Dabhadkar on unfinished irrigation projects that have resulted in a spate of farmer suicides in Vidarbha over the years.

In the last meeting, the petitioner moved a request for an amendment requesting instructions from the state government and the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) to send a report on this at a specific time.

On Wednesday, the petitioner again pointed out submissions made in his amendment application, after which, in addition to VIDC, a division bench comprising judges Ravi Deshpande and Amit Borkar directed the respondents, including State Secretaries for Urban Development, General Administration (GAD), Forestry and Irrigation departments, to file a response.

Over the years, Kale had blamed unfinished ventures for a series of farmer suicides in the region that continued to this day. Citing his old PIL (No 83/2012) in the multicrore irrigation scam that was disposed of on 12 December 2014, after the VIDC had ensured that all projects would be completed within a new deadline, he pointed out that hardly any progress has been made ever since.

The petitioner further accused VIDC of failing to complete approximately 45 irrigation projects in the area within the deadline, thereby depriving more than 30 lakh farmers of facilities. He pointed out that he and social workers were part of’ Sinchan Shodh Yatra’ where they visited about 16 out of 45 projects and found them unfinished, even after the new deadline.

In its previous reply, the VIDC identified a slew of reasons for the delay in the completion of the projects. It included opposition from PAPs, lack of environmental approval, implementation of lift irrigation scheme (LIS), lack of availability of sand, concrete, rubble and other resources, and shortage of staff.

The cause of the delays was introspected through the conduct of various discussions, the establishment of committees and the implementation of all feasible results/reports. The VIDC and government are very serious about completing the remaining 64 forest-affected projects that continue.

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