NEW DELHI: Three major irrigation projects in the Indus river basin in Jammu and Kashmir, that could irrigate around 1.45 lakh acres of land supposed to be completed by March this year, have missed their deadline, a top government official has said.
The three projects are part of the 23 irrigation works the government had prioritised to complete by the end of the previous fiscal under two central schemes.
While the remaining ones are nearing completion, sources said the Tral irrigation project in Pulwama, Prakachik Khows canal project in Kargil, and the modernisation of Ravi Canal in Jammu have failed to meet the deadline.
According to the official, the Tral project got delayed after the Jammu and Kashmir government decided to review it. The official, however, did not elaborate on why the review was being done.
“The work on Prakachik Khows canal also could not progress as expected due to hostile weather conditions. The area is still snow-bound. Same is the case with Ravi canal,” the official added.
The modernisation of the main Ravi canal is expected to be completed by December this year. The other two projects are likely to be completed by next year, the official said. Last year, the government had decided to fast-track four projects, including these three, under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana (PMKYS) and Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP), aiming to increase irrigated land in the state by nearly 2.05 lakh acres.
The three projects will help cover 1.45 lakh acres of the total area planned to be irrigated.
The fourth project, Rajpora Lift Irrigation, to be completed by 2019, is expected to help irrigate around 59,305 acres of land.
All these works are expected to cost Rs 117 crore, for which money will be raised by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
India can irrigate up to 13 lakh acres of land in Jammu and Kashmir. Until now, only seven lakh acres of land have been irrigated.
The government’s move to expedite work on the projects came at the same time as its decision to review the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), a pact between India and Pakistan on sharing the waters of six rivers in the basin, last year.
The official, though, maintained that fast-tracking irrigation projects has “nothing to do” with the decision to review the treaty.
The GOI launched the PMKYS in 2015 to enhance physical access to water on farm and expand cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency and introduce sustainable water conservation practices through major and minor irrigation projects.
The AIBP was launched in 1996-97 to provide central assistance to major/minor irrigation projects in the country to accelerate implementation of such programmes. Since its inception, 143 projects have been completed under AIBP.