A central loan assistance of Rs 12,773 crore has been sanctioned to Maharashtra for 26 projects under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP). Apart from these, Rs 3,839 crore will also be provided to the state government for the irrigation projects.
Maharashtra got the maximum central assistance on Tuesday at a meeting held in Delhi, paving the way for expediting the projects.
State Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan said, “The AIBP projects which have been covered under PMSY (Prime Minister Sinchan Yojna) has given consent for funds in a record time which would provide great help to farmers.”
Mahajan was part of the three-member taskforce which submitted its proposals to the Centre, seeking grants. The other two members were Telengana minister Harish Rao and Chhatisgarh’s minister Brijmohan Agrawal.
Union Minister Uma Bharti, BJP leader Dr Sanjeev Balyan, Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog Dr Arvind Panagariya were also present at the meeting.
Of the total 99 irrigation projects under AIBP worth Rs 77, 595 crore, Maharashtra’s share for 26 projects is highest at Rs 12,773 crore. In addition, Rs 3,830 crore has been provided, taking the total to Rs 16, 603 crore.
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) will make the funds available over a long-term loan to be payable at six per cent interest rate.
Officials in the water resources ministry said, “The 26 projects will altogether bring 8.5 lakh hectares of land under irrigation. Currently, 2.96 lakh hectares of land is irrigated. The completion of these works will irrigate additional 5.56 lakh hectares of land.”
These 26 projects which are shortlisted under AIBP in 2012 have seen massive cost escalation following new-land
policy where compensation has gone up four to five times, taking the total cost of all 26 irrigation projects up to Rs 35,000 crore. Of which, it included Rs 15,500 crore additional cost expenditure due to compensation package.
In May, at a meeting with Bharti in Mumbai, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had sought financial package of Rs 9,500 crore for irrigation projects under drought-prone districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada, and also financial aid of Rs 15,500 crore to cover up the cost escalation for the 26 irrigation projects under the AIBP.
Earlier, Fadnavis had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking financial assistance for irrigation projects in wake of fourth consecutive drought in the state.
A senior officer on Tuesday said, “Majority of the charter of demands placed by state government has been sanctioned by the Centre.”
The state government has also urged the Centre to reconsider the revised proposal for Gosikhurd National Irrigation project. Last fortnight, the state cabinet gave its approval for the revised cost at Rs 18,472 crore.
The 32-year-old project has already incurred expenditure of Rs 8,000 crore. But due to incomplete work, the water cannot be availed for agriculture, depriving the farmers of the huge benefit in enhancing their yield. The project would bring 2.5 lakh hectares of land under irrigation.