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Use CAD funds to send water to the fields, says Gadkari

New Delhi : Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari has called for faster utilization of funds allocated for command area development (CAD) under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), stating that while everyone seemed "very happy" to construct large dams, few were interested in ensuring that water reaches the farms.

Expressing concern that funds allocated for CAD have not been adequately utilized, Gadkari said that the overall purpose of AIBP will be defeated if CAD was not implemented properly.

"All are very interested in constructing dams. I don't know what the interest is, but everyone is quite interested in it. Big contractors (of dams) come... from ministers to bureaucrats (all) are very happy when there are big projects", Gadkari said.

"I am sorry to say, but the issue of CAD is of no interest (to them). What is the use of the scheme then," the Minister at a one-day conference on CAD.

Gadkari said his ministry had prioritised 99 projects at a cost of Rs 78,000 crore under AIBP. Out of this, Rs 29,000 crore had been marked for CAD to develop canal systems.

"But, only Rs 2,000-crore worth (CAD) projects have come for the Sardar Sarovar (in Gujarat). I was told that Telangana (also) has sent a Rs 12-crore proposal. So, there are no proposals (coming)", he added.

During 2016-17, the 99 ongoing major and medium irrigation projects under AIBP, having potential of 76.03 lakh ha were identified in consultation with states for completion in phases by December 2019 along with their command area development & water management (CADWM) works.

According to a Government statement in early February, so far in 2017-18, an amount of Rs 1424.51 crore was released/sanctioned as Central assistance (CA) for AIBP while Rs 533.56 was released/sanctioned for CAD. During the same period, state share through NABARD for AIBP was Rs 3318.85.

During 2016-17, the Central assistance for AIBP was to the tune of Rs 3307.95 crore while for CAD, it was Rs 853.97 crore. The state share through NABARD during 2016-17 for AIBP was Rs 3324.51 crore while for CAD, it was just Rs 10.47 crore.

Stating that scarcity of water was one of the main reasons for large scale migration of people from rural to urban areas, Gadkari called for scientific planning and management of water resources.

The Water Resources Minister referred to various new irrigation practices such as micro, drip, sprinklers irrigation and said the same would result in not only saving water, but also enhance agricultural production and reduce agricultural cost per acre.

Gadkari was of the view that instead of going for large dams, the possibility of going for check dams, rubber dams and small barrages should be explored.

Union Water Resources Secretary UP Singh said CAD usually has not been given due importance in irrigation, but is very important for agricultural production. CAD includes developing infrastructure for micro-irrigation, land leveling, participatory irrigation management and scheduling cropping patterns.

All these are important to enhance agricultural production and meet the objective of 'More Crop Per Drop' and 'Har Khet Ko Pani', he said.

There was a gap in irrigation potential created and its full utilization. CAD helps in fully utilizing the system developed for irrigation, Singh added.

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