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PM Modi’s New Mantra for Rural Development: Just Add Water

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to a slew of new initiatives in the 2016-2017 budget presented on 29th February, giving special focus on addressing rural stress with the PM pledging for nearly $13 billion on Rural Development to double farmers’ incomes by 2022.

  • Irrigation or rather ‘just adding water’ is PM Modi’s new Mantra as half of the arable land in the country depends upon monsoon rains. A record $18 billion has been allocated in the federal budget to have expansion of irrigation and recharge aquifers. Global warming is affecting India’s agriculture on a regular interval which thus resulting in droughts and farmer suicides.
  • The country’s agriculture and farming sector accounts for around 14% of total GDP. However projects like building of Kondhane dam in Maharashtra which costs a whopping $65 million has been stalled which further halts the growth and results in more farmers’ misery. According to a government report, more than 200 irrigation projects worth a havoc $36 billion have been halted for years due to several reasons. According to another source at the Water Resources ministry, one irrigation project named Durgawati has been static for 40 years in eastern part of UP and this delay has cost  a whopping $119.45 million or Rs. 800 crore.
  • The coordination between central and states are one of the biggest challenges that the present government has to solve in order to implement all these policies to better the agrarian sector of the country. Also, it is noted that, only about 64 million hectares out of 142 million hectares of farm areas under crops are irrigated in the country and surface irrigation projects cover only about 25 million hectares of the total amount.
  • However, nearly 60% of total irrigation for farm land is now coming from ground water, mainly from electric water pumps. And, subsidized electricity provides farmers with an incentive so they can pump out more water and this has been one important reason for fast depleting water tables. This has become urgency to fast-track the surface irrigation projects.
  • But the central government is now focusing more on 46 stalled irrigation projects and has given a deadline to complete half of them by March 2017 and the rest by 2020. The 23 projects will be a big help in bringing an extra 1.3 million hectares of land under irrigation.

(Source: Business Standard)

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