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This article is more than 1 year old.

Budget 2020: 41% jump in micro-irrigation allocation. Is it sufficient to meet agriculture water shortage?

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The Budget allocation for the micro irrigation scheme of the government has seen a 41 percent increase compared to the revised estimates for the current financial year. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has allocated Rs 11,127 crore under this scheme for FY21.

Budget 2020: 41% jump in micro-irrigation allocation. Is it sufficient to meet agriculture water shortage?
The Budget allocation for the micro irrigation scheme of the government has seen a 41 percent increase compared to the revised estimates for the current financial year. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has allocated Rs 11,127 crore under this scheme for FY21.
However, experts point out to the lower expenditure in the scheme in FY20. There was 18 percent unutilised fund of the allocated sum in the current financial year for the scheme that promotes ‘Per Drop More Crop’ by focusing on micro-irrigation systems (sprinkler, drip, pivots, rain-guns etc).
At Rs 7,896 crore in revised estimates for FY20, it is in fact marginally lower than the actual expenditure in FY18-19, which was at Rs 8143 crore.
Some say that certain states submit their data and reports later and so the expenditure might go up when the actual spend is announced.
Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Haryana are the six states that cover over 81 percent of the total area under micro irrigation. Considering large arid pockets in these regions and the states supporting micro-irrigation through subsidies, the central budgeted fund utilisation has seen more progress in these states.
However, other states such as Punjab, where an over dependence on ground water has created many blocks as dark zones are also looking at promoting micro irrigation as a tool to conserve water.
Ashok Dalwai, CEO of the Doubling Farmers' Income Committee, formed by the government, said, “There has been growing awareness in states like UP and Punjab that we need to use water efficiently to reduce cost of cultivation and improve soil health. We need to create more awareness and then PMKSY scheme can focus in these states as well.”
Water is becoming a focus with the finance minister emphasising on comprehensive measures for 100 water-stressed districts to overcome the shortage. Jal Shakti Ministry’s measures for water management is also expected to drive water management programs, he said.
Talking on the increased allocation, Dalwai said: “The government needs to ensure that we have budgetary and non-budgetary support and we have to emphasise on utilisation. Both have to run parallel.”
“Implementation needs to be more efficient. The central and state governments have to work together. Centre needs to educate states, ask them to submit proposals, start releasing money in time, push works.”
Apart from the budgetary support, last year the government had also approved an initial corpus of Rs 5000 crore for setting up a dedicated “Micro Irrigation Fund” with National Bank of Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD). NABARD will extend loans to state governments to undertake special micro irrigation projects.
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