PM calls for creating more ponds, augmenting irrigation network

New Delhi, June 8 (IANS) In a year when the monsoon is expected to be below average, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called for creating more farm ponds across the country.

An official statement said Modi called for quick adoption of a multi-pronged strategy to augment the country’s irrigation network, asking officials to treat the challenge of below-normal rainfall as an opportunity and seeking an intensive short-term effort to boost creation of ponds across the country.

“The prime minister noted that falling ground-water levels in some states made it essential to bring about an urgent shift in cropping-patterns. He called for focus on maize, and initiatives in value addition in maize, to make it more attractive for farmers,” the statement said.

Chairing a meeting of top officials from the agriculture, water resources, rural development and finance ministries, besides NITI Aayog and the PMO, Modi sought a relook at the administrative mechanisms, financial arrangements and technology applications in the irrigation sector for a shorter, more comprehensive decision-making process which could deliver quick results for the farmers, the statement said.

The prime minister, while reviewing the preparations for the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, said expansion of irrigation has to be linked with a comprehensive evaluation of cropping patterns across states, as well as a judicious mix of modern and micro irrigation systems such as drip and sprinkler irrigation.

He also said a thorough study should be made of various traditional irrigation methods across the country.

Modi said young researchers from universities should be involved in irrigation-policy planning and irrigation plans need to be worked out at the district level, which young civil services officers should be asked to devise.

The meeting was also attended by Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati, Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh and Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Balyan.

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