Mumbai: Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Rajendra Singh, who undertook extensive water conservation efforts in drought-prone Eastern Rajasthan, asked the Maharashtra government today, to prepare a river rejuvenation policy in order to eradicate water shortage in the state.
"Two-third of small rivers in the state have dried up and the remaining one-third have turned into nullahs," the 2001 Ramon Magsaysay Award winner said, at a seminar on water conservation at Vidhan Bhawan this evening.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, ministers and legislators were present to listen to Singh, who blamed the government for the lack of discipline in the state`s use of water.
The crop pattern should be linked to the rain cycle and a community-driven decentralised water management system is needed to eradicate perennial water shortage, instead of the current contractor-driven irrigation schemes in Maharashtra, he said.
"Sugarcane has been cultivated where it should not be," Singh said, underscoring the need for changing the state`s crop pattern.
Geologist Suresh Khanapurkar, whose water conservation work in the Shirpur taluka of Dhule district has gained popularity, was even more critical of the state government`s irrigation practices, and termed its policies "haphazard".