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Urgent need to reform irrigation sector: Dutta

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, June 13 - Though irrigation is one of the keys for development of the agriculture sector, the performance of the Irrigation Department remains dismal in Assam so far and the Minister in charge of the Department, Ranjit Dutta himself admitted that there is urgent need for bringing in reforms in this sector. However, on the positive side, a Central scheme for providing irrigation facilities is likely to be launched in the State shortly.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Dutta said that the Department should be reformed immediately and asserted that he himself would visit the major project sites to assess the situation on the ground. He said that he already visited a few project sites and after witnessing major irregularities, probes have been ordered and the officials have been asked to lodge FIR against the contractors concerned.

The Minister said that though on paper, the Department should be able to provide irrigation facilities in around 27 lakh hectares of agriculture land, at present, water is provided to only around 2.75 lakh hectares of land. He admitted that there is need for improving the performance of the Department immediately

Dutta alleged that in the last 15 years, the money provided to the Department was not utilized properly and there have been allegations of large scale irregularities. �I must admit that there are good officers in the Department. But such officers lost the spirit to work because of corruption at the political level. This trend will be reversed immediately and all the allegations of corruption would be probed into,� he added.

On the Central scheme to be launched, Dutta said that earlier, there was no coordination between the concerned Departments. But the situation would be changed after the launching of the new Centrally sponsored scheme called the Prime Minister�s Krishi Sincheyee Yojana (PMKSY). He said that the detailed report for the project is being prepared by the Departments of Irrigation, Agriculture and Soil Conservation. Consultants have also been engaged for it as detailed action plan would be prepared keeping in mind the requirements up to the block level.

It will be a five year plan and Dutta expressed the hope that implementation of the PMKSY would be of immense help to the farmers of the State.

Dutta further admitted that a number of irrigation projects are lying idle because of lack of power supply and said that he would soon take up the matter with the Power Department.

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