Having recognised that the irrigation tanks, big or small, played a crucial role in the rural economy of the Deccan, the World Bank has now decided to lend the Andhra Pradesh $189 million to improve 3,000 irrigation tanks with a command area of about 250,000 hectares.
An agreement to this effect was signed here on Friday in the presence of Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Chief Minister Dr YS Rajasekhar Reddy.
Others present were Madhusudhan Prasad, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, SP Tucker, Principal Secretary, Irrigation & CAD Department, AP, and Salman Zaheer, Representative from the World Bank signed the agreement.
The AP Community-based Tank Management Project aims to improve the physical and operational performance of about 3,000 irrigation tanks, secure the safety of the tank structures, and improve on-farm water management and efficiency improve the management of groundwater resources and enhance agricultural productivity and livelihoods.
The project would contribute towards the objective of sustainable economic growth and reduction of poverty through improved water resources management and increased agricultural incomes.
Speaking on the occasion, Chidambaram said that tanks, which had been the backbone of irrigated agriculture in Andhra Pradesh from time immemorial, had got neglected and were lying in a state of disrepair. “We need to restore and rehabilitate them, to unlock the huge potential they hold for improving agricultural production and livelihoods of the people.”
Chief Minister Dr Rajasekhar Reddy pointed out that the breaking down of local institutions responsible for managing the tanks had resulted in state of disrepair and sub-optimal production from these tanks. This project would help enhance tank systems which was a vital instrument to improve rural livelihoods and enhance local capacities to cope and in mitigating the drought.
Salman Zaheer, who signed on behalf of the World Bank, said that by aiding community-based institutions to assume greater responsibility for tank system management, the project will enable village communities to improve their livelihoods which are largely dependent on these tank systems.
The total World Bank assistance comprises of $ 94.5 million loan of 20-year maturity from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and another $ 94.5 million credit of 35-year maturity by International Development Association (IDA),it’s concessionary lending arm.