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State eyes Rs 60cr for Green Revolution II

Ranchi, March 2: Buoyed by a fresh Rs 400-crore fillip to transform the east into the country’s next food bowl, the state has set its eyes on a chunk of Rs 60 crore to give shape to what is being termed as the second green revolution.

Speaking to The Telegraph, state agriculture secretary A.K. Singh said the department was drafting a detailed proposal that would be submitted to a central team, which will visit the capital on March 5.

On Monday, Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee gave a boost to the Centre’s look-east campaign by pumping in an extra Rs 400 crore for a programme that aims to step up paddy farming in Assam, Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and some parts of eastern UP. The idea is to cushion pressure on granary states Punjab and Haryana.

“Traditional rice bowls like Punjab and Haryana are grappling with the growing demand for foodgrain. The east, on the other hand, is congenial to paddy cultivation if proper measures are taken,” Singh said.

The region, with fertile soil and abundant rainfall, is being seen as a next big agricultural hub after the two northern states. The Centre already has a Rs 6,000-crore corpus under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana to support agriculture across the country.

The look-east plan was first unveiled during Budget 2010. However, except Assam and Orissa, it failed to take off in the other states. In Jharkhand, severe drought, dearth of proper irrigation facilities and lack of timely funds came a cropper. “The overall sanctioned funds was Rs 44.10 crore. We received Rs 14.50 crore as first instalment, but the remaining Rs 29.60 is still awaited. We have already written to the Union ministry,” Singh said, adding that unless the funds delivery mechanism was improved, the mission was hard to achieve.

So, what is the plan to implement the scheme this year?

“In order to improve the delivery mechanism, we are focusing on blocks individually. For all the 259 blocks, we will depute one technical manager, one project director and two agriculture specialist for monitoring and implementation of the scheme,” he said.

Achieving another green revolution — after the 1965 landmark programme in north India initiated by American scientist Norman Borlaug — is impossible unless productivity is improved through better irrigation channels, selecting efficient crops and making maximum use of land, both cultivable and non-cultivable.

“With available funds, we are in the process of building 200 check dams across the state. Some have already been completed while remaining are under construction. This apart, we will tie up with scientific research institutes and agriculture universities for selecting crops and means to use every available acre,” Singh said.

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