Pune, February 17
In another attempt to stem the bleak tide of farmer suicides in the state, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned a loan of Rs 117.17 crore to the state government for small irrigation projects in Vidarbha.
This is part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s package for debt-ridden farmers in Vidarbha announced in July last year.
With this loan, sanctioned under the Centre’s Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (IRDF), 26 small irrigation projects in Vidarbha, which have been delayed due to lack of funds, are expected to be completed – translating into irrigation of over 15,000 hectares of land.
Chief General Manager of NABARD, N Shrinivasan, told HT that the Centre took the decision last week. Irrigation projects in areas where farmer suicides were rampant – Yavatmal, Vasim, Wardha, Amravati, Buldhana and Akola – would be the focus of the loan, he said.
NABARD has asked the state government to complete these projects by the end of 2009.
Sources in NABARD said agriculture production in the six districts of Vidarbha was expected to increase by an equivalent of Rs 600 crore once the projects were completed. “This will certainly help reduce the number of suicides by debt-ridden farmers,” a NABARD official said.
Sources added that NABARD had sought loan for 32 irrigation projects in Vidarbha but funds were allocated only to 26 projects – including eight districts each in Yavatmal and Vashim and two irrigation projects in Akola, Buldhana and Wardha.