Irrigation outlay raised 81%

IRRIGATION Outlay increased to Rs 20,000 crore. In order to provide more stimulus to the agriculture sector, the government has increased the outlay for irrigation projects by over 81 per cent. The outlay has been increased to Rs 20,000 crore for 2008-09, from Rs 11,000 crore for 2007-08. The Centre's contribution to the outlay is Rs 5,550 crore, up 44 per cent over the previous year's Rs 3,850 crore. The Centre's contribution will be disbursed to states in the form of grants. The government is investing heavily in the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) and the Rainfed Area Development Programme (RADP), along with other water resources programmes. Under the AIBP, 24 major and medium irrigation projects and 753 minor schemes will be completed in this financial year, creating additional irrigation potential of 500,000 hectares. The RADP, with an allocation of Rs 348 crore, has been finalised for implementation in 2008-09. Under this, priority will be given to the areas that have not benefited from watershed development schemes. The centrally-sponsored scheme on micro irrigation launched in January 2006 has covered an area of 548,000 hectares under drip and sprinkler irrigation so far. With an aim to cover another 400,000 hectares, an allocation of Rs 500 crore has been made for 2008-09. Under the project, the states

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