The full irrigation potential has not been met in the Krishna basin due to lack of FICs and field drains. All repairs and FICs are now to be completed by next year in the entire Bennethora project command area

The State Government has decided to deploy the unutilised funds available under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) for building field irrigation channels (FICs), land-levelling work and ayacut roads in the command areas of major and medium irrigation projects in the State.

Minister for Major and Medium Irrigation Basavaraj Bommai told The Hindu here on Friday that apart from the funds available under the NREGA, the State Government had decided to allocate Rs. 1,000 crore for the works in the command areas this year. “This will give the required boost to the State Government’s efforts to bring more areas under the irrigation network,” he said.

Mr. Bommai said that in many medium irrigation projects in the Krishna basin, wet irrigation potential had not been met due to the absence of FICs and field drains. The current plan would enable the Government to achieve the dual objective of providing employment to the needy in rural areas and creating permanent infrastructure, he said.

He said that the Government had already finalised a programme for the construction of FICs and ayacut roads worth Rs. 250 crore in the irrigation projects in south and central Karnataka. “I will be holding a high-level meeting with the senior officials of the zilla panchayats of Gulabrga and Bidar and the Department of Irrigation in the second week of September to finalise the proposals in the command areas of the Krishna basin projects in the Hyderabad Karnataka region.”

Mr. Bommai said that that during the current irrigation season, an estimated 11,000 hectares of irrigation potential could be met by the much-delayed Bennethora Major Irrigation Project in Gulbarga district, which was formally inaugurated in 2006, but not a single acre could be irrigated because of faulty canals, channels and the absence of FICs.

He said all the bottlenecks in the left and right bank canals had been overcome to provide water to agricultural fields. It had been decided to provide water for irrigation through the left bank canal in which all repairs and construction of FICs had been completed. On an experimental basis, water would be released in the repaired canal and the distributaries of the right bank canal this year, he said. “We will complete all repairs and the construction of FICs and release the water to the entire command area next year,” he added.

To a question, Mr. Bommai said that the work of reconstructing canals in the Amarja Medium Irrigation Project was on in full speed and the Government had decided to release water to the fields in the command area from the next irrigation season. Similarly, work on the Bhima Lift Irrigation Project to provide irrigation facilities to nearly 25,000 hectares of land was in full swing and was expected to be completed by 2010-11, he said.