BIHAR: NITISH’S SOCIAL ENGINEERING
the most expensive irrigation scheme anywhere in the world. Analysts point to project costs that could shoot up to Rs 1.6 lakh crore and O&M (operation and maintenance) expenses of at least Rs 50,000 an acre a year. It will exceed the total agricultural production by the irrigated area of KLIS.
“India is stuck in the old mindset of supply-side management. Thousands of crores are spent following the idea that supplying more water is good for farmers. Any criticism on costs is brushed aside as anti-farmer, antinational or anti-development,” says Dr Biksham Gujja, former head of water policy at WWF International and founder-chairperson, AgSri, a social enterprise working on water productivity. “Farmers need more income from each acre of land, not the most expensive water to grow paddy. Farmers will happily adopt a model that assures higher income and less water. This is demand-side management, a well-established concept in many parts of the world, including tradeable permits for water. India is heading towards a major water crisis and these expensive projects are accelerating our descent.”
Many experts fear the possibility that KLIS will turn out to be an expensive blunder, where the Telangana government spending as interest on commercial borrowings much more than farmers get for their entire produce.
The opposition Congress is already alleging large-scale corruption. “KCR rejigged the KLIS costs upwards only to benefit his family. He has not even shared the project report with MLAs, as he fears it will raise questions in the assembly,” alleges Congress Legislature Party leader M.B. Vikramarka.