The project was initially approved as Mhaladevi in 1970 at an estimated cost of Rs7.9 crore. The dam was supposed to have a holding capacity of 11 TMC. Nine years on, in 1979, the project was relocated to Nilwande – upstream of the Pravar river in Akole taluka of Ahmednagar. The dam’s capacity was reduced to 8.52 TMC.
With all the delays, the final cost of the project went up to Rs 5,177 crore – around Rs 5,169 crore more than the initial budget.
The dam was completed and commissioned in 2014. But the canal networks were still under construction.
The project, including the dam and its left and right canals running up to 182 km, is aimed at bringing around 68,000 hectare of land under irrigation and provide drinking water to over 125 villages of Akole, Sangamner, Rahuri, Shrirampur, Kopargaon and Rahata talukas in Ahmednagar and Sinnar taluka in Nashik district.
The construction of the 85-km-long left bank canal with a capacity to deliver water at 921 cusecs is completed, except the concrete lining. However, the work on the 97-km-long right bank canal is still half done.
This is the first major project in the country where the piped distribution network for smaller distributaries will be carried out. But to make this a reality, it would take another three years. “Currently only the left bank canal has been completed. But the last mile connectivity is yet to be achieved. Digging of the entire right bank canal is yet to be completed. The project has received its fifth revised administrative approval that takes the project cost to Rs 5,177 crore,” a senior official from the water resources department’s Command Area Development Authority in Ahmednagar said.
Ahmednagar guardian minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil has reviewed the project and directed the authorities to expedite the remaining works. “Our parched land will now be irrigated and it will benefit the farmers. Two generations have passed waiting for water and we hope that their wait ends soon,” said Uttam Nirmal, a retired executive engineer of the water resources department.
“Lack of political, funds crunch, vested interests of some local leaders, changing priorities of the various governments, delay in rehabilitation of people displaced due to the work and filing of petitions in courts were ammong the factors leading to the delay of the project,” he said.
Keshav Kurde, a resident of Shrirampur taluka, said “The foundation of Jayakwadi project was laid in 1966 and the dam was commissioned in 1976. Look what is happening here.”