Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday suggested that diverting water from rivers in the Konkan region to the Godavari river basin would resolve the drought problem in Marathwada and north Maharashtra. Mr. Fadnavis also mooted the idea of constructing a 480 km tunnel to divert water from the Vainganga river in Telangana to help provide relief to east and west Vidarbha. A water expert, however, termed the proposals as more ‘populist’ rather than practical and asserted that these ‘big ticket schemes’ would only increase the drought-affected areas’ dependency on other parts of the State.“The State government with the help of Jalyukta Shivar attempted to make the State water sufficient, despite which some parts of the State have faced drought in the last 3-4 years due to deficient rains,” Mr. Fadnavis said in his address at a flag hoisting ceremony at the Mantralaya on the occasion of Independence Day. “We need to overcome this. Drought in Marathwada and north Maharashtra can be overcome by diverting water from rivers in Konkan, which flow into the sea, into the Godavari river basin. Also, a 480 kilometre long tunnel will take Vainganga river water flowing in Telangana to west and east Vidarbha,” he said. Mr. Fadnavis added that incomplete irrigation projects in western Maharashtra would soon be completed with the help of aid from the Centre and asserted that it would ensure that Maharashtra faced no drought in future. “The water of Konkan rivers will be stopped in the Sahyadri hill range and then lifted, only to be emptied in tunnels within the ranges to flow into the Godavari basin,” said Pradeep Purandare, a former professor at the Water and Land Management Institute (WALMI). “Apart from being expensive, the project has several ecological hazards. One cannot stop the flow of water into the sea. Plus, it does not guarantee water to drought affected Marathwada as major beneficiary will be north Maharashtra, mostly Nashik. That means we are again at the mercy of upstream districts,” he opined. The State government had recently announced a ₹25,000 crore water grid project for Maharashtra where dams would be connected using pipelines, with a company from Israel set to undertake preliminary work.“Big ticket projects are always attractive, irrespective of their benefits,” said Mr. Purandare. “Diverting water or connecting dams would leave drought affected parts at the mercy of other areas with water. In the age of climate change one cannot guarantee perennial sources of water,” he added.