Mumbai: Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan on Friday stressed the need for taking long-term measures to tackle the recurring drought and increase water availability in the state, which requires Rs 75,000 crore to complete irrigation projects.
"There are hundreds of major, medium and minor irrigation projects that are awaiting completion. We need at least Rs 75,000 crore to complete these projects. There is a need to consult experts and prioritise the ongoing projects," he maintained.
The Governor was speaking after inaugurating a two-day symposium, `Maharashtra - Past, Present and Future' - organised here to mark the birth centenary of Maharashtra's first Chief Minister Y B Chavan.
Sankaranarayanan said he has asked the State Government to complete the ongoing irrigation projects at the earliest. "Unless we address this issue on a war footing, we could be heading for a severe water crisis," he warned.
According to the Governor, while Maharashtra can certainly take pride in its improving Human Development Indices, the state cannot afford to remain complacent. He there are still many pockets of under-development in Maharashtra, where currently 15 districts are facing drought.
"We have even malnutrition cases in some districts. I am glad the Government is committed to make every village malnutrition-free. We want development to be inclusive and comprehensive." The Governor, who is also Chancellor of universities in the State, said he was interested in promoting access to and excellence in higher education.
With 20 universities in which almost 3 million students are pursuing higher education, the State has an excellent pool of educated people, Sankaranarayanan noted.
Maharashtra has some of the world-class educational institutions in engineering, technology, science, social science and other streams, the Governor pointed out.
"We also have the best of agricultural universities. However, our enrollment in higher education is much low considering our high levels of literacy. It should be our collective endeavour to increase our higher education enrollment at least up to 25 percent while at the same time maintaining high standards of education."
He said the second and bigger challenge before us is to take full advantage of our human resources. "A study has found that more than 57 percent of our educated youth suffer from varying degrees of skill deficit. We therefore need skill development initiatives to make our youths employable."
"The number of persons registered with employment exchanges in the state is 5 million. The number of those not registered could be at least five times the figure," he said.
Sankaranarayanan said he has been consistently advocating the need for creating a Vocational Training University in the State to provide short-term skill-based courses to educated as well as uneducated youth.
"The late Shri Chavan had a clear vision for the development of Maharashtra. He was a well-read person who had genuine concern for the welfare of the last person on the socio-economic pyramid. He was instrumental in strengthening the panchayati raj institutions in the State."
A galaxy of leaders from Maharashtra provided leadership to the nation's struggle for Independence. Post independence, Parliamentarians from Maharashtra, including Y B Chavan, Morarji Desai, Barrister Nath Pai, S M Joshi, Madhu Limaye, Comrade Dange and others played a significant role at the national level, he said.


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