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Novel irrigation project to save Banana belt of Jalgaon

Last modified March 02, 2016 10:14

Free Press Journal. Mumbai, 29 February 2016

A novel irrigation scheme to replenish groundwater in six districts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, is what the Banana growers of Jalgaon – World’s the seventh largest Banana producing belt – are looking forward to with great hope.

Banana is generally grown in tropical coastal regions with high annual precipitation of 2,000 millimeters and more. Jalgaon is an exception. The district, located over 300 km from the west coast and on the northern edge of the Deccan plateau, receives an average yearly rainfall of only 750 mm. Dense cultivation and drip irrigation are the two major techniques that have given this unique identity to the region. But, the effects of record production of the water guzzling crop are worrisome. The ground water levels have depleted to over 1000 feet in past few year, local farmers say. Irrigation department of Maharahstra had envisaged a project way back in 1976. But, possibility of displacement of 73 villages and submergence of over 17000 hectare of Melghat Tiger Reserve did not leave any scope for the project to take off. Meanwhile, based on the study of central ground water board, a new scheme came up. The scheme involves directing water from the Tapi river into a 25 km-wide seismic fault-line that runs between the river and the Satpura mountain chain.

According to Maharashtra irrigation minister Girish Mahajan, through this ‘Tapi River Mega Recharge Project’, “About 70 to 80 TMC (70 to 80 Thousand Million Cube [or 1 Billion] Feet) will be percolated in the ground through this project without displacing people. Both the Central and state governments are enthusiastic about the project and are working jointly.” V B Patil, former superintending engineer of the irrigation department, who had been trying hard for the project for past several years, said that the project would reduce the submergence area from 19,000 ha to 3,000 ha.

Source: Agriculture Today, AgriNews, <sanjay.km15@gmail.com>

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