Maharashtra has become the first State in the country to opt for global tenders in micro irrigation projects from this year.

It will include both drip and sprinkler irrigation projects for 2012-13. Sixty six companies bid recently for the projects, out of which 20 qualified.

Earlier, according to the Central scheme, farmers used to get subsidies for the equipment for drip and sprinkler projects. Every year Rs 1,400 crore was spent on micro-irrigation projects out of which 50 per cent was subsidy from the State and Central Governments.

However there were no specific guidelines for implementation. Subsidies earlier went to the companies and not the farmers, officials in the Agriculture Department said.

According to the new policy, those who want to do business in the State should opt for global tenders. “Earlier, only manual equipment was sold. Now farmers have a variety – manual, semi-automatic and automatic equipment (to choose from),” officials added.

According to them, the cost of the machinery has come down by 14 to 30 per cent due to the new competition that has been introduced and transparent procedure.

Under the new rules, the subsidy amount will be deposited into the bank account of the farmers. The maximum retail price will be fixed because of which there will be standardisation of rates and uniformity will be brought about.

The forms for purchase of the equipment will be available online. Through a bar code using a global positioning system, it will be known whether the system has been installed in the fields.

(This article was published on November 25, 2012)
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