Union Government to invest 5000 crores to increase micro-irrigation footprints in next two years

NEW DELHI: In order to increase nation’s micro-irrigation (MI) footprints and stop the indiscriminate use of groundwater, the Central government has set a five-year target of bringing 10 million hectares under MI.

Twelve years ago, the government had planned to bring an estimated 69.5 mha under micro irrigation but only 10.12 million hectares (mha) has been covered under that dedicated scheme. However, India has the potential to bring nearly half of its net cultivated area (140 million hectares) under micro-irrigation.

Top officials of the Agriculture ministry will discuss this issue in the Kharif campaign conference on April 25-26. One of the officials said that “The ministry will also finalise its framework to operationalise the Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF) for this purpose.”

The government has already allocated around Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 2,000 crore during 2018-19 and Rs 3,000 crore during 2019-20) as an initial corpus for the MIF. The dedicated fund is expected to encourage public and private investments in sprinkler and drip irrigation.

With the government already ready for Rs 5,000 crore financial assistance for next two years to increase MI footprints, officials during the Kharif campaign conference will on Thursday also discuss how the MIF could be utilised effectively and how to check misuse, if any, of the subsidies given to farmers for this purpose.

The discussion will happen in the backdrop of many reports which talked about how many farmers continued with the MI system only till the time they got subsidies to put in place the necessary infrastructure. There were also reports that the farmers in certain areas sold equipment and pipes to others once done with subsidy disbursement and follow up inspection.

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