In a move that aims to address the perennial irrigation water crisis affecting rural India, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and NABARD signed an agreement to operationalise the Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) to be instituted in NABARD as part of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY). The Fund, with an initial corpus of about Rs 20,000 crore, was announced in the Union Budget 2016-17 by Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley. Corpus would be raised by way of budgetary resources and market borrowings to fund fast tracking of implementation of incomplete major & medium irrigation projects. An historic MoA was signed to this effect in the presence of Sushri Uma Bharti, Union Minister, MoWR, RD & GR, Dr Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, Union Minister of State, MoWR,RD & GR, Shri Brijmohan Agrawal, Minister (WR), Chhattisgarh and Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Vice Chairman Niti Aayog. It is an arrangement between Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and NABARD to complete the 99 prioritized irrigation projects as part of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY). Shri GD Mahajan, Minister (Irrigation), Maharashtra and Shri T Harish Rao, Minister ( Irrigation) Telangana were also present on the occasion. The agreement was signed by Shri Shashi Shekhar, Secretary, MoWR, RD & GR, Dr Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD and Shri SM Hussain, DG, NWDA.
Speaking on the occasion Sushri Uma Bharti said that the identified projects were languishing for want of adequate financial resources for many years and the present government made it its top priority to work out a strategy for funding these projects through the LTIF instituted in NABARD under PMKSY. She also emphasized that the Prime Minister himself is very keen that projects are completed as scheduled and appealed the various state govts. to garner resources from NABARD or their own budgets and clear other hurdles, if any, to speed up the execution. She also advised the officials to pave the way for signing of similar agreements with various State Govts. Dr SK Balyan, Minister of State for WR, RD & GR highlighted the importance of water for bringing prosperity at the farmers level and urged that water should reach the field level at the earliest by completing all components of projects in systematic manner and in minimum time frame. Sh Brijmohan Agarwal, Minister (WR), Chhattisgarh who was also Chairman of Task Force for issues related to implementation of PMKSY indicated that it is unique that recommendations of the Task Force have been accepted and implementation has started within six months time with the signing of MoA today. He also stressed the importance of micro-irrigation techniques (Sprinkler and drip irrigation) to improve efficiency of irrigation and doubling the farmers income. Dr Panagariya, vice chairman, NITI Aayog narrated the input of ideas in the planning phase with overall direction and focus from the Prime Minister so as to put in place this unique mechanism for joint appraisal by State and CWC, and assured availability of funds for Central and State share of project cost.
Dr Amarjit Singh, OSD, MoWR, RD & GR informed about various features and objectives of the scheme as also expected role of various stakeholders. He said that 23 projects are planned to be completed by March 2017, another 31 by March 2018 and balance 45 projects by December 2019. Shri Shashi Shekhar, Secretary, MoWR, RD & GR indicated that cost overrun and delays in irrigation projects has been a major concern and the innovative approach of time bound implementation and financing arrangement has been planned for completing the identified 99 projects within four years time (by December 2019). The loans from NABARD will be provided at six percent interest rate for a period of 15 years. The Water Users associations will be formed for participatory management of the projects. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD stated that this is a milestone moment in Indian agriculture since the LTIF initiative addresses the issue of irrigation water crisis that afflicts Indian agriculture year after year. He said NABARD will ensure to make requisite resources available for lending towards Central share and State shares for these projects. A phenomenal 76.03 lakh hectares of land is estimated to be brought under irrigation through 99 identified projects under this initiative which has a total estimated allocation of Rs. 77,595 crore. The project which is spread over a period of four years between 2016-20 will have approximate Central and state Government shares of Rs. 31,342 crore and Rs.46,253 crore respectively to be entirely funded from the LTIF for Central Share and on demand basis in respect of respective state shares.