India’s apex rural-development bank (NABARD) will manage a Rs. 77,000-crore corpus as part of a Central government push to complete 99 unfinished irrigation projects across the country by 2019, and bring water to 76.03 lakh hectares. The contours of the scheme were first made public by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech this February and involve finishing 149 projects overdue since 1997.

Union Minister of Water Resources (MoWR) stated

1.“All drought and suicide-prone districts will be first covered,”

2.“This time there will be short-cut (sic) appraisals…and incentives will be given to States who complete their projects before time.”

The 99 projects, details of which weren’t immediately made public, are part of 149 irrigation projects across the country where at least Rs. 67, 539 crore has been spent until March 2015 to build dams and irrigation projects but with little water actually making it to farmers’ fields. Traditionally the Central government apportioned money to States to complete projects.

Financial arrangements involving innovation

The key hindrance used to be that States lacked funds to complete projects.

1.Rules have been amended to allow them to get loans from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for their projects.

2.Through NABARD, the government will provide 15-year loans at 6% interest and ensure that a project is sanctioned only if panchayats and local water-use associations are closely involved.

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY)

1. The 99-project scheme, projected to be completed by December 2019 is part of a Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), launched to help farmers have efficient access to water and introduce sustainable water-conservation projects.

2. The PMKSY subsumes schemes such as the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) and several other projects to repair and restore bodies that have been launched by previous governments.

Independent Monitor of the Project
Arvind Panagariya, Vice-President (NITI Aayog) stated that NITI Aayog would be an “independent monitor” of the 99-project scheme.