Centre may issue tax-free bonds to fund irrigation

Centre may issue tax-free bonds to fund irrigation

The Centre is planning to issue tax-free bonds through the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) to raise resources to fulfill its electoral promise of irrigating every farm across the country.

Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana with an outlay of Rs 50,000 crore over five years, an assessment by experts has revealed that the amount would be inadequate to fulfill the dream of ‘Har Khet ko Paani’.

As per government data, of the 142 million hectares of land used for cultivation, only 45 per cent in covered by irrigation and farmers tilling the rest of the land are at the mercy of rain gods for a successful crop.

“Taking irrigation to every field would require several lakh crore of rupees, the current outlay is grossly inadequate,” state agriculture ministers, officials and experts gathered here for a two-day conference to deliberate on farmers welfare, said in a presentation before the prime minister on Monday evening.

They also suggested raising resources through tax-free bonds by institutions like Nabard to fund irrigation projects. Government officials said the recommendations were being considered by the government.

Besides, they made a strong pitch to include rural parts of the country under flagship programmes such as Skill India and Start Up India.

Sikkim already appeared to take initial steps in this regard as was evident at an exhibition of organic products inaugurated by Modi and Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling at Samarsa Garden, about 14 km from here.

Young entrepreneurs Anurag Aggarwal and Vivek Cintury, who have benefited from the government initiatives, displayed the processed organic products of their start-up ventures.

Modi took keen interest in their initiatives and lauded them for creating jobs through value addition to organic products as he went around the exhibition spread across five acres.

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