State gets Rs. 756 cr. loan for irrigation projects

The funds will also flow into projects that are under the scanner of Anti-Corruption Bureau

December 27, 2016 12:44 am | Updated 01:00 am IST - Mumbai:

The Centre on Monday released the second and the biggest instalment of Rs. 756 crore to the Maharashtra government under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), to speed up construction of 26 dams. The State is set to receive a total of Rs. 3,730 crore as part of the AIBP until 2020.

The Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party government will look to score brownie points over the Congress-NCP, who were allegedly responsible for the dam scam during their tenure.

The AIBP envisages completing 149 projects across the country, of which 46 have received priority in the previous Union Budget. Maharashtra is home to maximum (13) of these shortlisted projects, said officials in the irrigation department. The projects in Maharashtra are likely to be completed by 2019-2020.

Of the total 99 incomplete irrigation projects across the country, Maharashtra is home to 26, including the shortlisted 13. The first instalment of Rs. 340 crore was received by the State in October. “The funds have been loaned by NABARD at as low as six per cent interest,” said an official.

Experts had earlier pointed out the irony of pumping in large amounts of funds into projects that are under the scanner of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, and have been stuck for over a decade. Some of the controversial projects, which are receiving the AIBP funds, include Waghur dam project, projects at Lower Dudhna, Lower Wardha, Lower Panzara, Bawanthadi and Nandur-Madhmeshwar.

The Maharashtra irrigation scam involved the same projects which were approved with escalated costs, alterations in the approved plan, and opaque funding mechanisms leaving doors open for manipulations.

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