Country to bring 5 lakh hectares under AIBP : FM

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New Delhi, Feb 29 (UNI) The country will be creating an additional irrigation potential of 500,000 hectares of land with the completion of 24 major and medium irrigation, 753 minor irrigation projects under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Scheme, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said.

Touching upon water resources under AIBP in his Budget presentation, the Finance Minister said these schemes would be competed in the current fiscal. The outlay for the the scheme was increased to Rs 20,000 crore for 2008-09 with a grant component of Rs 5,550 crore. The outlay for 2007-08 stood at Rs 11,000 crore with a grant Rs 3,580 crore.

He said the Rainfed Area Development Programme had been finalised and will be implemented in 2008-09 with an allocation of Rs 348 crore. Priority will be given to those areas that have not been beneficiaries of water shed development schemes.

The Centrally sponsored scheme on micro irriation launched in January 2006 had brought 548,000 hecrares under drip and spirinkler irrigation in two years. The Finance Minister proposed that he will allocate Rs 500 crore for the scheme in the current fiscal to cover another 400,000 hectares.

The minister said Agreements had been signed with the World Bank by the Governments of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh under the project to repair, renovate and restore water bodies totally with a sum of 738 million dollars to benefit a command area of 900,000 hectare.

Similar agrements are likely to be signed by the states of Orissa and West Bengal and other states with the World Bank, he hoped.

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