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Naveen’s Xmas gift for green state

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 24: Stung by Opposition criticism of showing neglect to farmers and faced with peasant agitation against allocation of Hirakud water to industries, chief minister Naveen Patnaik today announced a new irrigation package.

“2008 will be the year of irrigation for farmers,” Naveen told reporters while announcing the new package.

The announcement was made ahead of the rally being organised by the ruling Biju Janata Dal on Wednesday on the occasion of its 10th anniversary.

Utmost priority would be given to the development and expansion of irrigation sources to ensure irrigation to farmland in every village, said the chief minister.

The state government had earlier set a target of irrigating at least 35 per cent of agricultural land in each block.

However, the irrigation facilities available in as many as 198 blocks are well below the 35 per cent target.

As per the new package, irrigation sources would be created at a cost of Rs 5 lakh each in every village that does not have 35 per cent irrigation potential.

A target has also been set to construct around 1,000 minor irrigation projects across the state (three-four in each deficient block) during 2008.

Besides, a targeted 1,000 lift irrigation points would be installed during the year with Nabard funding.

A new scheme styled as “Jala Nidhi” would be launched under which 25,000 shallow tube wells would be sunk by 2009.

The cost of the project would be borne by the farmers concerned, while 30 per cent subsidy would be provided to them by the government, official sources said.

Besides, extension of canal and lining of minor irriga- tion projects and other irrigation projects would also be taken up.

The total estimated cost of all the projects under the new policy would be around Rs 2,000 crore, said the chief minister.

Apart from developing irrigation sources, drainage of water from the perenni- ally waterlogged areas would be taken up, official sources added.

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