Centre be facilitator in granting irrigation projects: AP

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New Delhi, Jul 11 (UNI) Andhra Pradesh government has urged the Centre to play facilitator rather than being a regulator while granting licenses for irrigation projects.

Participating in the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) meeting here, the state Irrigation Minister P Lakshmaiah said the processes in granting clearances for irrigation projects was mired in 'archaic procedures' and it was high time that the Centre bring in place a single window clearance for the projects like it did in case of starting an industry or Special Economic Zones for individual entrepreneurs and companies.

Giving instances of delay in granting clearances, Mr Lakshmaiah said the Polavaram project approved 18 years ago by the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal, a statutory body enjoying the status of Supreme Court, had to take approval from the Central Water Commission.

The AP government had taken the initiative of linking Godavari and Krishna rivers to achieve equity in water availability among various regions of the state. The Polavaram project was in tune with the NWDA but it was still to get approval from the Centre. ''What is the use of making new proposals for interlinking of rivers across the state borders,'' the Minister said, adding that it was a matter of great disquiet that the Centre was not clearing the Polavaram project and proposing ambitious interlinking of rivers across the country.

''The proposals of interlinking rivers would only remain on paper unless the Centre takes initiative to clear projects like Polavaram, that are aiming at the same objective and meet all legal requirements,'' he said.

Mr Lakshmaiah said his state had taken irrigation projects on priority basis under 'Jalayagnam' and was investing considerable funds to enhance irrigation facilities.

The allocations made under Accelerated Irrigation benefit Programme (AIBP) is quite low compared to the amount funds needed for achieving the targets under Bharat Nirman programme, he added.

The investments should be increased and the percentage of grant under PM's special package for districts with distressed farmers should be increased, he advised.

Irrigation Ministers of Assam, Haryana, Kerala, Tamilnadu also attended the meeting presided by Union Water Resources Minister Prof Saifuddin Soz.

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