Nod for raising extra budgetary resources for pending irrigation projects

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New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval for raising Extra Budgetary Resources (EBRs) of up to Rs 9,020 crore by NABARD through bonds for concessional lending for 99 ongoing irrigation projects.

Briefing reporters after a Cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said a large number of major and medium irrigation projects taken up under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) had been languishing mainly due to inadequate provision of funds.

“Irrigation is being given top priority,” he said.

Jaitley said that during 2016-17, 99 ongoing projects under PMKSY (Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana)-AIBP were identified for completion in phases by December 2019.

The Union Budget for 2016-17 had announced creation of dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) in NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) with an initial corpus of Rs 20,000 crore for funding the central and state share for the identified ongoing projects under PMKSY.

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It was also decided that the rate of interest may be kept around 6 per cent with the union government bearing part of interest cost to make the loan from NABARD attractive for states.

An official release said NABARD had disbursed Rs 9,086.02 crore under LTIF in 2016-17. It said an estimated Rs 29,000 crore would be required through LTIF in 2017-18, which would in turn require EBRs of Rs 9,020 crore.

The release said that according to status reported by the states and Central Water Commission, 18 projects have been completed. Irrigation potential is expected to be more than 14 lakh hectares in 2016-17 from all 99 projects.

In 2017-18, 33 more projects are likely to be completed.

The release said irrigation potential of about 76 lakh hectares will be created on completion of the projects by 2019, resulting in generation of substantially more employment opportunities through increased cropping, change in cropping pattern, agro-processing and other ancillary activities.

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