Appreciating Nabard's initiative to fund irrigation works, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said investments in such projects, including Polavaram, start showing results in a short period of time and lead to "social satisfaction".
"This is first time Nabard is financing irrigation projects... investment in agriculture through irrigation can in next season start showing results and these results lead to social satisfaction, lead to economic prosperity," he said at an event here.
"Therefore, it is extremely important that a very large part of the funding comes for that purpose. Using the water resource of the country to its optimum so that the farmers can benefit is one of the prime objectives," he said.
Stressing that money invested in irrigation has great importance, the Finance Minister said if one invests in manufacturing, which is also important, returns are visible after reasonably long period.
It is true for several other sectors as well, he said after handing over cheques to Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh for implementing various irrigation projects.
Andhra Pradesh was handed over cheque of Rs 1,981 crore for implementing multi-purpose Polavaram project, while Maharashtra and Gujarat received Rs 756 crore and Rs 463 crore respectively as part of Rs 20,000 crore Long Term Irrigation Fund announced in the Budget this year.
With aim to double farmers' income by 2022, the government has entrusted National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) to raise in phases over Rs 77,000 crore from market to fund around 100 prioritised irrigation projects, including 56 in drought-prone areas, under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana over the next 4 years.
Along with Jaitley, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Ministers of State for Water Resources Sanjeev Kumar Balyan and Vijay Goel were present at the event.
The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act has placed statutory responsibility on the Centre to support Rs 16,000 crore Polavaram Irrigation Project.
"There was element of distrust in Andhra Pradesh who felt that they were let down in the past. Therefore, questions were raised whether this is going to happen or not. Will Andhra Pradesh see real colour of money in order to implement Polavaram project? That historic opportunity has come today," Jaitley said.
The central government has fulfilled its promise of supporting states through the instrumentality of Nabard and Ministry of Water Resources, he said, adding that for federal polity of India, this is very important.
Speaking at the event, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said he is the "happiest person" that Nabard has released the fund for the project which is the "lifeline" for the state.