Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sought to rely heavily on expanding the country's irrigation network to counter the ill-effects of two consecutive failed monsoons.
Most of the allocation would be spent on completion of existing irrigation schemes and their results would only be felt after a gap. Around 89 irrigation projects under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) that have been languishing for a long time would be fast-tracked in the coming financial year which would help in irrigating 8.06 million hectares. "These projects require Rs 17,000 crore next year and Rs 86,500 crore in the next five years. We will ensure that 23 of these projects are completed before 31st March, 2017," said Jaitley..
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Excise duty on components to make agriculture pumps and service tax on construction and maintenance of canals and dams has been either lowered or waived off. He also announced the creation of a long-term irrigation fund in NABARD with an initial corpus of Rs 20,000 crore.
The flagship Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) will be implemented in a mission mode. Under this scheme, 2.85 million hectares would be brought under irrigation in 2016-17. The Centre plans to spend Rs 12,517 crore on the programme of which Rs 5,717 crore would come from budgetary allocation and rest from market borrowings.
That apart, a new programme for sustainable management of groundwater with an initial allocation of Rs 6,000 crore has been proposed to be launched in 2016-17. Funding for this would come from multilateral agencies.