In Telangana Budget for 2021-22, big focus on irrigation with an allocation of Rs.16,931 cr; Rs.5,225 cr for crop loan waiver

Published : March 19, 2021 13:19 IST

Telangana Finance Minister Harish Rao presenting the State Budget for 2021-22 in the Assembly in Hyderabad on March 18. Photo: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The highlight of the Telangana Budget for the financial year 2021-22 has been the allocation of Rs.16,931 crore for the irrigation sector, an increase of 53.18 per cent over last year’s allocation of Rs.11,053.55 crore. Besides this, the K. Chandrashekar Rao led Telangana Rashtra Samithi government has set aside over Rs.25,000 crore for the agriculture and allied sectors, including a Rs.5,225 crore component towards crop loan waiver. Both the irrigation and agriculture sectors have played a key role in the rapid development of Telangana. The government has proposed a total expenditure of Rs.2,30,825.96 crore for 2021-22.

Presenting the Budget in the State Assembly on March 18, Finance Minister Harish Rao pointed to the steps taken by the government to redesign many of the irrigation projects that had been stuck in inter-State disputes, and the measures taken to resolve these disputes in a congenial atmosphere. The Minister said both the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme on the Godavari and the Sita Rama project (where the Godavari flows at a height of 618 feet into the Kondapochamma Sagar) were nearing completion. He added that work on the Palamuru-Rangareddy lift irrigation project was also progressing at a brisk pace.

Claiming that for the first time in 20 years tanks were full and water was flowing in canals, the Minister announced that the Dindi lift irrigation project, meant to provide water to land fed by the Sagar left bank canal near Nalgonda district, would be completed soon; that the Sammakka Sagar (thupakulagudem), which is part of the Devadula lift irrigation project, was nearing completion; and that the construction of the Sitamma Sagar (Dummugudem), which was part of the Sita Rama project, would be started soon. With the aim of increasing irrigation facilities, the Telangana government has sanctioned several new schemes across the State and prepared detailed project reports for others.

Harish Rao declared in his Budget speech that the annual cultivated area in Telangana had increased from 1.41 crore acres in 2014-15 to 2.12 crore acres in 2020-21, registering a growth of over 49 per cent. Similarly, crop production had nearly doubled from 2.5 crore tonnes in 2014-15 to an estimated record production of 4.11 crore tonnes in 2020-21, the Minister stated.

Cotton production

Said the Finance Minister: “The farmers in Telangana produced crops valued at Rs.1 lakh crore last year. The State also made significant progress in cotton cultivation and emerged as the second largest cotton producing State in the country with cultivation on 60.54 lakh acres. The State supplied 64 lakh tonnes of paddy to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in the 2020 Yasangi season, which is 56 per cent of the total paddy purchased by the FCI.” Harish Rao cited the introduction of innovative programmes such as Rythu Bandu and Rythu Bima, both of which were launched in 2018 and had become pillars of the agriculture sector in Telangana, as further reasons for the newfound confidence among farmers.

The Minister said that at present the government was providing Rs.10,000 per acre per annum covering two crop seasons. And against an outlay of Rs.14,736 crore spent during the 2020-21 financial year, an estimated Rs.14,800 crore had been set aside for the scheme in 2021-22. The Minister said that around Rs.35,911 crore had been spent under the scheme over the past three fiscals, benefiting 59.25 lakh farmers, 90 per cent of whom were small and marginal farmers. The government had set aside Rs.1,200 crore for the Rythu Bima scheme in 2021-22 towards insurance premium, providing Rs.5 lakh insurance cover to farmers, the Minister said. He added that Rs.1,141.4 crore was spent towards insurance premium in 2020-21 for providing insurance cover to 32.73 lakh farmers. In the past three years, the insurance amount of Rs.2,328 crore was paid to 46,564 families of farmers, he said.

The Minister disclosed that the government was spending Rs.10,500 crore to supply free uninterrupted power to farmers. It was also ensuring a timely supply of fertilizer and urea, and under its Mission Kakatiya scheme thousands of ponds had been rejuvenated. This had not only given a boost to agricultural activities but also improved the water table and improved aquaculture.

Oil palm

The Minister announced that a comprehensive plan had been prepared for the promotion of oil palm cultivation on 8.14 lakh acres. To encourage farmers to take up its cultivation, the government will provide a subsidy of Rs.30,000 per acre, and in a bid to lessen the immediate burden on the farmer steps would be taken to ensure that the balance input cost was met through bank financing. Said Harish Rao: “India is now importing palm oil worth Rs.70,000 crore a year. By cultivating it, we will not only realise huge savings in foreign exchange, but also good returns for farmers for 30 years. The State government has formulated a comprehensive plan to provide farmers with all facilities required for the cultivation of oil palm.”

With an emphasis on incentivising mechanisation, and to enable farmers to procure modern farm machinery, the government has allocated Rs.1,500 crore. In the last five years, the government provided subsidy of Rs.14,644 crore for farm mechanisation and spent another Rs.951 crore to provide tractors, other farm machinery and tools. The government has also decided to promote food processing units throughout the State to boost employment in rural areas.

Dairy industry

Stating that the Telangana government had laid a strong emphasis on the development of the dairy industry, the Minister said the incentive of Rs.5 paid on every litre of milk to the cooperative dairies had boosted the sector. Said the Minister: “The daily average milk procurement by the Telangana Vijaya Dairy has increased from 1.27 lakh litres in 2014 to 2.89 lakh litres this year. Similarly, the Vijaya Dairy, which had debt amounting to Rs.30 crore after the State’s formation, is maintaining fixed deposits of Rs.58.5 crore. It has a turnover of Rs.676 crore.” The Budget allocated Rs.1,730 crore for the animal husbandry, dairy development and fisheries departments.