the role of a facilitator of irrigation projects' : AP tells

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New Delhi, Jul 12 (UNI) Andhra Pradesh has argued for the Centre to play a role of a facilitator rather than that of a regulator while granting licenses for irrigation projects.

Taking part in the National Water Development Agency meeting here Andhra Pradesh Irrigation Minister P Lakshmaiah said that the processes involved in granting clearances for the irrigation projects was mired in 'archaic procedures'. It is high time that the Government of India bring in place a single window clearance for irrigation projects like it had done in the 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 go through the process of getting approved by the Central Water Commission. The AP government had taken the initiatve of linking Godavari and Krishna to achieve the equity in water availability among various regions of the state. The Ploavaram project was some was in tune with the NWDA but still the project was still to get approval from the Centre, what is the use of making new proposals for interlinking of rivers across the State borders. It is a matter of great disquiet that the Centre is not clearing the Polavaram but now proposes ambitious interlinking of rivers across States. The proposals of interlinking would only remain on paper unless the Centre takes initiative to clear projects like Polavaram, that are aiming at the same objective and meets all the legal requirements, by convincing the State concerned to change their antagonistic attitudes towards such projects.

He said A P had taken initiative to take up irrigation projects as a priority 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. The investments should be increased and the percentage of grant under PM's special package for districts with farmers' distress should be increased, he advised..

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

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