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ADB approves $620 mn loans for MP, WB water projects

New Delhi : The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved two loans totalling $620 million for a irrigation project in Madhya Pradesh and a water supply project in West Bengal.

While a $375 million loan agreement with the Madhya Pradesh Government is to be used to contribute to double farming income by expanding irrigation networks and system efficiency, a separate financing package of $245 million is for provision of safe, sustainable and inclusive drinking water service in West Bengal.

The Madhya Pradesh Irrigation Efficiency Improvement Project will develop 1,25,000 hectares of new, highly efficient and climate resilient irrigation networks, and improve water use efficiency in more than 400 villages, benefiting over 8 lakh people in the state.

"The ADB funds will be used to develop a large-scale pressurised and automated irrigation system for boosting irrigation efficiency," said Sabyasachi Mitra, Deputy Country Director of ADB's India Resident Mission.

The project will help Madhya Pradesh sustain its extraordinary growth in the agriculture sector through support to the state government's irrigation expansion and modernisation plan by maximising irrigation efficiency and water productivity.

The project in Madhya Pradesh will focus on two large irrigation systems. At the first of these the Kundalia irrigation project it will develop 125,000 ha of new and highly efficient and climate resilient irrigation networks. The work to be undertaken includes building two large pumping stations pumping water to distribution chambers where water will be distributed through a network of buried pipes to farm outlets. The project will also help farmers to adopt micro-irrigated agriculture including high-value crops.

For the second large irrigation system, the existing Sanjay Sarovar Irrigation Project, the ADB funds for the project will help prepare a comprehensive modernization feasibility study and other preparatory work for a soundly designed project.

The Manila-based multi-lateral funding agency said the West Bengal project is expected to benefit about 1.65 million people in three districts affected by arsenic, fluoride and salinity.

More than 90 per cent of the rural population relies on groundwater, making it home to about 72 per cent of India's population at risk from arsenic and five per cent of the population at risk from fluoride contamination.

The project will provide continuous potable water through metered connections to about 3,90,000 individual households in Bankura, North 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur.

"High arsenic and fluoride levels in drinking water are a threat to public health in India, where West Bengal is by far the worst affected state," said ADB Principal Urban Development Specialist Neeta Pokhrel.

Through efficient use of surface water and a shift to piped water schemes, the ADB project will reduce the burden of disease from arsenic and fluoride, while preserving groundwater and enhancing climate resilience, she said.

The total project cost is $349 million, for which ADB will provide a loan of $240 million and grant of $3 million from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction.

The West Bengal government will provide $106 million funding. ADB will also administer a $2 million grant from the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund.

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