Himachal aims to tap rainwater to optimize agriculture

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Shimla, July 22 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh is aiming to tap rainwater and use it optimally in agriculture and its allied activities. For this a water conservation project with an estimated cost of Rs 4,751.24 crore has been prepared, a Minister said on Sunday.

The project will be initially implemented in selected water stressed areas of Dharampur, Ladbhadol and Thunag areas of Mandi district, Bamson and Sujanpur in Hamirpur district and Ghumarwin in Bilaspur district with an outlay of Rs 708.87 crore, Irrigation and Public Health Minister Mahender Singh Thakur said.

The Union Ministry of Finance sanctioned the project last week.

A total of 2.691 lakh hectares have been covered with irrigation facilities by July 2017. Still 65,885 hectares are without irrigation facilities. Therefore, one of the primary objectives of the project is to develop the irrigation system by promoting water use efficiency, Thakur said.

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With the main focus on the agriculture sector, the project aims to increase the productivity of major crops like wheat, maize and rice. In addition, the impact of climate change on water resources is to be minimized.

The Minister said the project would help in doubling the income of the farmers by 2022-23 through water conservation and enhancing the climate change adaptability.

He said in a statement that they have envisaged strengthening the adaptive capacity of about 2.5 million small and marginal farmers in the Himalayan ecosystem, spread over five basins of the state who would have reduced exposure to climate change risks and water scarcity after implementation of the project.

Himachal Pradesh is primarily an agrarian state. According to 2011 census, more than 62 per cent of its population, or 42.56 lakh, has been engaged in agriculture and allied activities.

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–IANS

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