The Cabinet has approved a special package for 81 irrigation projects worth over Rs 13,000 crore in Vidarbha, Marathwada and other chronically drought prone-areas in Maharashtra, with Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari terming it as an "out of the box" decision. The completion of 83 minor irrigation projects and eight major/medium projects in creation of additional potential of 3.77 lakh hectares in Marathawada, Vidarbha and other drought-prone areas of Maharashtra, which has seen one of the highest number of farmers' suicides. The overall balance cost of the projects is estimated to be Rs 13,651.61 crore. "This is an out of the box decision by the Modi government," Gadkari said. "The completion of these projects will ensure assured source of water to the farmers in he command area of these projects.
This will increase yield of their crops and thereby ncrease the income of the farmers," he said. The projects included under the special package are above the 26 major/medium projects of Maharashtra, having ultimate potential of 8.501 hectare, being funded under the 'Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana'. Gadkari said that the projects that have been short-listed are low-hanging fruits and plan is to complete them by May next year. Maharashtra has experienced hydrological and agricultural drought during 2012 to 2016. The situation has been worst in the Vidarbha and Marathawada region. The Drought Prone Areas (DPA) in the rest of Maharashtra have experienced distress in the recent years.