Union minister Nitin Gadkari today hailed the pilot project under which the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) created water conservation facilities in several villages in drought-prone Buldhana district of Maharashtra while carrying out road works.
The Minister of Road Transport and Highways said although he was credited for carrying out several good road projects, including the Bandra Worli Sealink in Mumbai, the Buldhana water project was the "best" work of his life.
Mr Gadkari today released a book on "Model convergence of national highway improvement or construction with water conservation and ground water recharge" along the highways.
Buldhana, which receives scanty rainfall, was selected for the project: "Water conservation and ground water recharge."
Under the project, personnel of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), along with the teams of PWD engineers deputed with them, extracted soil from rivers, nullahs, village tanks, minor/medium irrigation projects in the vicinity of national highways, thereby increasing the storage capacity of these water bodies.
Total 5,510 TCM (thousand cubic meters) storage capacity was created, benefiting around 152 villages in the district.
This activity was simultaneously adopted in Vidarbha and other parts of Maharashtra and around 126.05 lakh cubic metre material was extracted, creating 12,605 TCM water storage capacity in the state, saving about Rs 187 crore of the state government.
"I have done many good highway projects, including Worli Bandra Sealink. But I feel this (pilot) project is one of the best works of my life, as the villages that did not have water to drink and where farmers were committing suicide, have got a new lease of life through this water conservation and ground water recharge project," Mr Gadkari said.
"About 5,510 TCM storage capacity was created by way of extraction of 52.10 lakh cubic metre material from various small irrigation projects in around 152 villages in Buldhana district. Similarly, around 22,800 wells were recharged and 208 villages got water in Maharashtra," he added.
Mr Gadkari said that during his stint as the Union Water Resources Minister, he had suggested that a "pattern" could be introduced, under which the NHAI, state highways and PWD, can work in tandem to tackle water woes in the country.
"This pattern does not require land acquisition and environment or forest clearance. Besides, employment will be created and will be win-win creation for all stakeholders," he said.