The State Government has decided to use the unlimited funds available under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) for irrigation projects to create infrastructure facilities.

The State Government has decided to utilise around Rs 1,000 Crore from the NREGS funds for the optimal utilisation of water in the command areas by constructing Field Irrigation Channels (FICs), taking up land leveling works and undertaking the long overdue construction and maintenance of ayacut roads in the command areas this year.

Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai told "The Hindu" that this was apart from the usual allocation of funds from the state budget for the land leveling and FIC works. "This would give the required boost to the state government in its efforts to bring more areas under the wet irrigation network".

Mr Bommai said that in many medium irrigation projects in the Krishna basin wet irrigation potential could not be achieved due to the absence of the FICs and field drainages and one of the main reason was the failure of the successive governments to give equal importance to the FICs and Field Drains and land leveling activities in the command areas. To overcome this problem the government had decided to utilize the funds available under the NREGS. This would enable the government to achieve the dual objective of providing employment to the needy in the rural areas and to create a permanent and fruitful infrastructure facility.

He said that the government had already finalised a programme for taking up the FICs and ayacut roads worth Rs 250 Crores in the irrigation projects in south Karnataka. "I would be holding a high level meeting with the senior officials of the Zilla Panchayats of Gulabarga and Bidar and the Irrigation Department officials in the second week of September this year to finalise the proposals for taking up the FIC and Ayacut road works and land leveling works in the command areas of the Krishna basin projects in Hyderabad Karnataka region".

Mr Bommai said that during the current irrigation season, an estimated 11,000 Hectare irrigation potential would be created in the much delayed Bennethora Major Irrigation Project in Gulbarga District, which was formally inaugurated in 2006, but not a single acre of land could be provided irrigation facility due to the faulty canals and distributaries and the absence of the FICs.

He said all the bottlenecks in both the left and right bank canals have been overcome to provide water to the farmers field. It has been decided to provide irrigation in the left Bank Canal where the repair works in the canals and distributaries and construction of the FICs completed and on experimental basis leave water in the repaired canal and the distributaries in the right bank canal this year in Bennethora Project. "We will complete all the repair works and constructing the FICs in the project and release the water to the entire command area next year".

To a question, He said that the work of reconstructing the canals in the Amarja Medium Irrigation Project was going on in full speed and the government has decided to release water to the farmers field in the command areas from the next irrigation season. Similarly the work in the Bhima Lift Irrigation Project to provide irrigation facilities to nearly 25,000 hectares was in full swing the work is expected to be completed by 2010-11 and provide water to the command area farmers.