VIJAYAWADA: The State government on Monday received a cheque for `1,981 crore for the construction of the Polavaram irrigation project from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). The cheque was handed over to Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu by Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharti in the presence of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Union Minister for Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu in New Delhi.
The amount is part of a loan from NABARD, sanctioned from the Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY). Gujarat and Maharashtra were also sanctioned `463 crore and `756 crore respectively for their own projects.
Expressing his happiness, Chandrababu Naidu said it will help in expediting the Polavaram project and exuded confidence that it will be completed by 2018. He explained that the just-released funds will help in executing works pertaining to cofferdam and diaphragm wall of the project at the earliest. Pointing out that his government has taken up the Polavaram project on a priority basis and has been ensuring fund flow despite financial constraints, the Chief Minister stressed that the project would give impetus to the economic development of the state. “It was keeping this in mind that the state government has agreed to accept the special package announced by the Centre,” he explained.
Arun Jaitley appreciated NABARD’s initiative to fund irrigation works and said investments in such projects start showing results in a short period of time and lead to ‘social satisfaction’ and economic prosperity.
“Therefore, it is extremely important that a very large part of the funding comes for that purpose. Using the water resources of the country to its optimum is the key so that farmers can benefit,” he said.
Stressing that money invested in irrigation has great importance, the Finance Minister remarked that even if one invests in manufacturing, which is also important, returns are visible only after a reasonably long period.
Uma Bharti said the Central government has declared Polavaram as a national project and all future expenditure on it will be borne by the Centre. “All irrigation projects under PMKSY and AIBP, including Polavaram, will be completed by 2019. This will help in irrigating an additional 80 lakh hectares of agricultural land,” she explained.
Meanwhile speaking to mediapersons, Minister for Water Resources Devineni Umamaheswara Rao described release of funds by NABARD as a major milestone.
Rao added that the most important phase of Polavaram Project - concrete works - will commence on December 30 and Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharti has been invited for the foundation stone ceremony.