The Centre and NABARD signed an agreement on Tuesday to create a long-term irrigation fund under the Union government’s flagship Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchan Yojana (PMKSY) to complete 99 pending projects in the country.
Maharashtra is all set to get funds worth Rs16,603 crore to complete 26 big irrigation projects, including the Gosikhurd irrigation project.
Several of these projects have been pending for decades and many are 70 to 80 per cent complete.
The state’s share includes a long-term loan of Rs12,773 crore from NABARD that is to be paid over 15 years with an interest rate of 5.5 per cent and a grant from the Centre of Rs3,830 crore. This is the first time that the state has got such a huge stash of funds from the Centre for irrigation projects.
With this release of additional grants, the state government hopes to complete 26 projects within the next four years and avoid thin spreading of funds. The state government needs nearly Rs25,000 crore to complete these projects (see box).
The agreement was signed between NABARD president and Union water resources secretary in Delhi. State water resources minister Girish Mahajan was present for this programme along with his counterparts from Chhattisgarh and Telangana Brijmohan Aggarwal and T Harish Rao respectively.
“The state has got the biggest chunk of these funds in the country and that too at a very low interest rate. It’s a positive development for the water resources department. We can now get the irrigation projects back on track,” said Iqbal Chahal, principal secretary, water resources department.
The 26 projects that will be fast-tracked include Waghur, Bawanthadi, Lower Dudhana, Lower Wardha, Lower Panzhara, Nandur Madhameshwar, Gosikhurd, Tillari, Khadakpurna and Bembla among others.
The projects together have irrigation potential of 8.50 lakh hectares and so far potential of 2.93 lakhs has been achieved and the remaining 5.56 lakh hectares irrigation potential will be created after the projects are complete.
Earlier, under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP), the agreement was that the Centre would bear 20 per cent of the cost escalations of these projects. But, many of the projects were initiated way back in the 90s and their costs have multiplied. A prime example of this is the Gosikhurd project that saw cost escalation of 50 times since 1982.