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Govt signs loan agreement with WB for watershed project

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The government today signed a loan agreement with the World Bank for the Rs 2,142 Neeranchal National Watershed Project, which is expected to increase the productivity of agriculture in the country.

The project to be implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development over a six-year period from 2016 to 2021 will support the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana in hydrology and water management, agricultural production systems, capacity building and monitoring and evaluation.

The Neeranchal project, which was initiated way back in 2012 during the UPA government, was approved by the Union Cabinet in October last year with a total budget outlay of Rs 2,142 crore with the government sharing 50 percent of it while the rest Rs 1,071 crore will be given in loan by World Bank.

"The initiative that we have taken will go a long way in improving the economic conditions of the farmer community," Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh said, adding that twelve areas that can be called wasteland will be targeted to make about 336 lakh hectares of land arable.

Singh, who presided over the loan signing agreement with the World Bank representatives here, told the media that all 28 states which implement the watershed projects will benefit from Neeranchal.

He, however, added that nine states -- Andhra Pradesh, Gujrat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana -- will benefit more from the project due to the implementation of a large number of watershed schemes in these states.

The minister also chose the occasion to recall that he was not in favour of the scheme initially as he felt that it should have objectives beyond providing only technical assistance and must ensure outcomes. He said that he was happy that his suggestions were also incorporated.

The minister, however, deflected questions about the controversial land bill, which is still pending with a Parliamentary panel.

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First Published: Thu, January 14 2016. 20:02 IST