AVANIGADDA (Krishna district): The Government will spend Rs.15,000 crores to modernise or strengthen six important irrigation systems in the State, including the 150-year-old Krishna delta, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy announced here on Friday.

He was addressing a Rythu Sadassu (meeting of farmers) after laying at Puligadda Aqueduct a foundation stone for the modernisation of the Krishna delta at a cost of Rs.4,576 crores.

Dr. Reddy said modernisation of the Krishna delta, along with completion of the Polavaram and Pulichintala projects, would open a golden chapter for farmers of the delta. The Congress Government had been dutifully releasing water for second crop in the delta for the last four years, unlike the previous TDP government, and this year too it was ready to release water from any date chosen by farmers.

As a result of sustained efforts, Andhra Pradesh now stood next only to Uttar Pradesh and Punjab in production of foodgrains. “We’re confident of placing the State in the second position two years from now,” he asserted.

Dr. Reddy said each of the roughly 1 lakh farmers in the State who had sincerely repaid agricultural loans to banks would be given back Rs.5,000 by the end of the current month, so as to partly extend to them the benefit of crop loan waiver announced by the Centre.

The Chief Minister, on the occasion, released a book on the history and salient features of the Krishna delta published by APCC executive member Kolanukonda Shivaji on behalf of the Andhra Pradesh Jalayagna Sadhana Samithi.

AICC general secretary and Administrative Reforms Commission Chairperson Veerappa Moily challenged the governments led by BJP and other Opposition parties in different States to implement the scheme announced by Dr. Reddy to absorb the Rs.50 hike in the price of cooking gas cylinder.

Former MP Yalamanchili Shivaji submitted a representation to the Chief Minister seeking reduction in the VAT on petrol and diesel to 25 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively.

AICC secretary Iqbal Singh, Ministers Mandali Buddha Prasad, Ponnala Lakshmaiah, Pinnamaneni Venkateswara Rao, Koneru Ranga Rao, Maganti Venkateswara Rao (Babu), MPs Badiga Ramakrishna, V. Balashowry, Government Whip S. Udayabhanu, Krishna Zilla Parishad Chairperson Kukkala Nageswara Rao, MLAs Devineni Rajasekhar (Nehru), B. Vedavyas, MLC Ilapuram Venkaiah and others were present.