Maharashtra assured Rs 2,000-cr loan for irrigation projects

Centre takes step to fast-track seven mega irrigation projects, state had expressed inability to provide matching grant to lift central funds.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai | Published: March 13, 2016 1:23 am

IN A bid to fast-track seven mega irrigation projects in Maharashtra, the Centre has assured the state of a soft loan of Rs 2,000 crore routed through the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). The projects, which have to be financed partly by the Centre and partly by the state, come under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme.

Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharati has conveyed to the Maharashtra government that the Centre will make provisions of matching the grant of Rs 2,000 crore, which was mandatory for Maharashtra to avail the central irrigation scheme.

The state government had expressed its inability to provide Rs 2,000 crore matching grant to lift the central funds under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme.

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The recurring drought has cast a financial constraint with the government diverting massive funds for relief measures in Marathwada, Vidarbha, parts of North Maharashtra and Western Maharashtra.

With the aim of bringing 28.5 lakh hectares of land under irrigation, the Centre wants to fast-track 89 irrigation projects which have been languishing across the country. The completion of these projects through the accelerated irrigation benefits programme will help irrigate 80.6 lakh hectares of land. Total funds required for the 89 projects is estimated at Rs 86,500 crore. But in the 2016-17 fiscal, the Centre wants to complete 23 projects with a budget of Rs 17,000 crore.

The seven listed projects of Maharashtra includes the Gosikhurd National Irrigation Project in Vidarbha’s Bhandara district. The cost of this single project is estimated at Rs 16,000 crore and the state has already invested Rs 8,000 crore on it. The state has its own financial constraints with total funds required to complete the pending project exceeding by Rs 1.20 lakh crore.

At present the irrigation potential of Maharashtra is at 18 per cent. The state government has set the target to enhance the it up to 40 per cent. Maharashtra’s irrigation potential is way below the national average of 42 per cent.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in the last one year has made sweeping policy changes to promote more economical water conservation projects.

While putting a complete ban on adhoc sanctioning of irrigation projects which are politically driven, he has stressed on geographical requirements regionwise. As a result, the government has almost done away with big dam projects which incur massive expenditure and are less effective.

Meanwhile, through the ‘Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan’, the government has succeeded in completing almost 1,33,000 works creating water storage potential of 6,90,000 thousand cubic metres water across 6,200 villages.

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