Allocation to irrigation up by over ₹4,200 crore but progress to depend on loans

The outlay for capital expenditure on irrigation is put at ₹10,014 crore in 2023-24

February 07, 2023 12:49 am | Updated 12:49 am IST - HYDERABAD

With several major irrigation projects such as Kaleshwaram, Sitarama, Dindi, Devadula, Palamuru-Rangareddy still under implementation, budget allocation for the sector has been increased by ₹4,193 crore with a marginal increase in the capital outlay.

The State government has allocated ₹26,885 crore for irrigation for 2023-24 against ₹22,692 crore allocated last year. The restrictions ‘imposed’ by the Centre on Telangana in the borrowing limits under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act since the current fiscal (2022-23) have played a major impediment in the progress of several projects being implemented with loans.

According to official sources, hardly ₹10,000 crore capital expenditure (bills cleared) was incurred on the implementation of ongoing projects till December-end with ₹9,910 crore allocation made for capital works in 2022-23 budget. Over ₹7,500 crore bills were pending as on December 15, 2022 itself. The outlay for capital expenditure on irrigation is put at ₹10,014 crore in 2023-24.

Restriction on borrowings from banks had impacted the capital expenditure on the sector badly as hardly ₹4,000 crore payments were made with the help of loans till December 15. It is stated that most of the budgetary allocation for 2023-24 would go to salaries and debt servicing as repayment of money borrowed for Kaleshwaram, Palamuru-Rangareddy, Sitarama, Devadulu, SRSP Flood Flow Canal and others has already commenced.

However, the capital expenditure made on the irrigation sector in completing the pending projects, making ongoing projects partly functional, restoration of minor irrigation tanks under Mission Kakatiya programme and construction of check-dams has not only improved the direct (canal) irrigation potential but has also improved groundwater table considerablly enabling farmers utilise the resource for increasing the extent of irrigated cultivation since 2014-15.

“Since the State formation in June 2014, the State government has incurred ₹1,60,979 crore on irrigation from 2014-15 to 2022-23 increasing the gross irrigated area (GIA) significantly by 117% — from 62.48 lakh acres in 2014-15 to 135.6 lakh acres in 2021-22) including new irrigation potential of 74.32 lakh acres”, the socio-economic outlook for 2023 exlained.

As a result, the total agriculture production has increased from 232 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 to 326 lakh tonnes in 2021-22.

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