Amid severe drought in states like Maharashtra, the government in an innovative move will construct ponds free of cost for farmers in lieu of soil that will be used in road projects across the country, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today said.
“Apart from AIBP scheme under which the government has made a provision of Rs 80,000 crore for 89 projects to irrigate one crore hectares of land, the government has come out with an innovative solution to solve the problem of drought and water crisis.
“Our ministry is ready to construct lakhs of ponds across the nation free of cost on private land in lieu of sand, which we will be consumed in our massive highways building programme,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari said addressing a press conference here.
Gadkari said the issue fell under concurrent list and hence cooperation from state governments have been sought.
The minister in association with the state’s Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will initiate such projects, where irrigation is only 18.6 per cent.
“Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Gujarat and parts of Uttar Pradesh are the states, which suffer from 90 per cent water crisis in the country. We are willing to help such states,” he said.
Gadkari said his ministry, which is implementing ambitious projects to build over 40 km of highways a day requires considerable amount of soil, which at present is procured through mining of minor minerals as per the provisions of the concerned state governments.
A circular issued today by Highways Ministry said, “It is a known fact that many parts of the country are facing severe drought conditions, and as has been noticed in the past, one of the possible long-term solutions is water conservation through activities such as construction of check dams and farm ponds in rural areas.”
Water conservation can thus be very easily synchronised with digging of land for procuring earth, it said.
NHAI, NHIDCL and road wing of the ministry may arrange to “excavate, re-excavate farm ponds in the private lands of the farmers free of cost, provided the farmer, in turn agrees to provide the earth thus excavated, free of cost at the farm gate.”
Gadkari said such a method would combat drought in states as water could easily be conserved in such ponds to be used during summers.