Union Cabinet okays Rs 5,000-crore micro-irrigation fund

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a dedicated Rs 5,000-crore fund to bring more land area under micro-irrigation, as part of its objective to boost agriculture production and farmers income.

The Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF), set up under the National Bank For Agriculture And Rural Development (NABARD), seeks to provide states financial assistance on concessional rate of interest to promote micro-irrigation – currently, 10 million hectares is under micro-irrigation as against the potential of 70 million hectares.

The lending rate under the MIF has been proposed at three per cent lower than the cost of raising the fund by NABARD, an official statement said. The dedicated fund would supplement the efforts of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) and help bring about 10 lakh hectares under micro-irrigation, it added. For the current fiscal, Rs 2,000 crore has been allocated, while Rs 3,000 crore has been earmarked for 2019-20.

The fund will facilitate states to mobilise resources for their initiatives, including additional (top up subsidy) in implementation of PMKSY-PDMC to achieve the annual target of about two million hectares per year during the remaining period of 14th Finance Commission. The states can access this fund for innovative integrated projects, including projects in the public private partnership (PPP) mode and also for incentivizing micro-irrigation.

In another decision, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, doubled the budget for laying an alternative communications network for defence services to Rs 24,664 crore. The budget for the Network For Spectrum (NFS) project has been raised by Rs 11,330 crore, an official statement said, adding that the project will be implemented by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and completed in 24 months.

The project seeks to boost the communication capabilities of defence forces, leading to enhanced national operational preparedness.

[http://indianexpress.com/article/india/union-cabinet-okays-rs-5000-crore-micro-irrigation-fund-5179831/ May 17, 2018]