ANANTAPUR: Farmers in Anantapur district, who applied for micro-irrigation units, are left disappointed, as not a single unit has been sanctioned till date.Though the State government issued orders stating that subsidies for micro-irrigation units will be implemented like before, companies are not coming forward stating that their previous dues in the district to the tune of Rs 200 crore were not cleared. As many as 37 companies are due Rs 1,400 crore from the state government for previously sanctioned units in all the districts.
Anantapur district is the second driest district in the country and has suffered from prolonged spells of drought. Lending a helping hand to the farmers of the district, a micro irrigation scheme was introduced, which helps the farmers to cultivate using the minimum levels of water. Drip and sprinkler systems of irrigation are generally referred to as micro irrigation. After it was introduced in the district in 2003, the number of farmers adopting the new system of irrigation increased year on year.
From a mere 12,554 hectares in the initial year, the acreage under micro irrigation in the district increased to 3,29,047 hectares, which saw Anantapur emerge as the largest micro irrigation adopted district. A total of 2,81,942 micro irrigation units were sanctioned to the district so far.
Out of the total land under micro irrigation, 2.42 lakh hectares use drip irrigation while 0.87 lakh hectares use sprinkler irrigation. However, the successful scheme was put on hold from May 2019 and enthusiastic farmers, who were looking forward to getting the micro irrigation equipment on subsidy, were disappointed. For unspecified reasons, the micro irrigation scheme continued to be on hold, creating doubts that it will be discontinued permanently.
In July 2021, following pressure from the farmers community, a GO was issued stating that the scheme would continue like before. However, when it came to the implementation, there has been no progress.
“Farmers have applied for units to irrigate a total 32,000 hectares for the current year and the proposals for the same were forwarded to the state government. We are yet to receive permissions from the government,” P Firoz Khar, project director, Andhra Pradesh Micro Irrigation Project (APMIP), told TNIE.
Further, those who paid an amount through demand drafts for the units in 2019 were asked by the officials to have them cancelled and submit fresh DDs. This has only miffed the farmers who question as to how can the officials, who kept the DDs for the prescribed amount for more than two years, ask them to submit new ones.
“I have five acres of land and on April 29, 2020 I submitted a demand draft for Rs 48,436 to get the drip irrigation unit to cultivate tomatoes. The unit was yet to be sanctioned and now the officials are asking to have the previously submitted DDs cancelled and submit fresh ones in accordance with the new GO. It is unfair,” said Sake Mutyalanna of Rapthadu mandal in the district. Farmers are also not happy with the modifications made to the scheme, as it is not viable to them.
As per the new GO, only small and marginal farmers having less than five acres will be provided 90 per cent subsidy for all categories including SC,ST and for those having land between five acres to ten acres of land, will get 70 per cent subsidy. Earlier, it was 90 per cent subsidy to the farmers owning less than 10 acres and 50 per cent subsidy for 10 acres and above. Another reason for non-implementation of the scheme is said to be the companies’ reluctance to participate due to the pending dues.