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Gadkari’s focus on irrigation expansion

PTI

New Delhi

Everyone from ministers to bureaucrats are “very happy” to construct large dams but not interested in developing command areas to ensure that water reaches farms, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari Tuesday said as he pitched for focusing on expanding the irrigation cover.

Gadkari added that he was not against dams, but was for 100 per cent utilisation of water to increase agricultural productivity.

Command area development (CAD) involves on-farm improvement activities such as construction of field drains and channels and scientific management of water, to ensure that the agricultural production goes
up.

“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, don’t know…From ministers to bureaucrats 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 water resources minister asked.

Gadkari made the remarks at a one-day conference on command area development here.

Seeking to drive home his point, Gadkari said his ministry had prioritised 99 projects at a cost of Rs 78,000 crore under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP). Rs 29,000 crore of these has been marked for CAD to develop canal systems, he added.

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

The minister also asked what was the use of a dam if water did not reach farms after.

“Hence, I will say 100 per cent utilisation of resources,” he said, stressing on supply of water to farms using modern techniques of pipes, drip irrigation, etc. To increase agricultural production.

The minister also laid emphasis on finding out ways to save cost on various projects.

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