Union Budget 2017: Long-term fund to achieve ‘per drop more crop’

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New Delhi: The government’s decision to double the “long term irrigation fund” to Rs 40,000 crore is in line with its commitment to invest more than Rs 86,000 crore in five years starting from 2016-17. However, the speedy implementation is the key to bring in additional 80.6 lakh hectares under irrigation.

Mr Jaitley said: “A long term irrigation fund has already been set up in Nabard. Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced an addition of Rs 20,000 crore to its corpus. This will take the total corpus of this fund to Rs 40,000 crore. A dedicated micro irrigation fund will be set up in Nabard to achieve the goal, ‘per drop more crop’. The fund will have an initial corpus of Rs 5,000 crore.”

Financial Chronicle was the first to report the proposal to create the Rs 5,000 crore micro irrigation fund on January 12.

Last year, Mr Jaitley had announced the creation of the fund to complete 89 pending irrigation projects, which have been languishing for a long time. He had said these projects require Rs 17,000 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 86,500 crore in the next five years. “We will ensure that 23 of these projects are completed before 31st March, 2017,” he had said.

However, when the scheme was rolled out, a committee under the chairmanship of Chhat-tisgarh’s water resou-rces minister found 99 projects for completion by 2019-20 which would ensure irrigation in ex-tra 76.03 lakh hectares.

Out of these 99 projects, 23 priority-I projects with targeted irrigation potential utilisation of 14.53 lakh hectare, are planned to be completed by 2016-17FY and another 31 priority-II projects with targeted irrigation potential utilisation of 12.95 lakh hectare are planned to be completed by 2017-18.