Our Bureau

Hyderabad, April 29

CLEARING the way for acquiring land for irrigation projects worth Rs 49,000 crore in the State, the Andhra Pradesh Government has decided to appoint special deputy collectors to make all the 78 land acquisition units functional.

The Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, has asked the Chief Commissioner of Land Administration (CCLA) to send him weekly reports, detailing updates.

At a review meeting held here on Friday, the Chief Minister also decided to announce commissioners for all the projects. These officials, of the rank of joint collectors, would oversee the implementation of the projects.

It was estimated that a total of 3.65 lakh acres of land was needed to take up both ongoing and upcoming major irrigation projects. This included land for grounding the main projects, auxiliary canals and land that would be submerged.

Of this, 1.83 lakh acres had already been acquired, Mr Ponnala Lakshmaiah, Minister for Major Irrigation, told newspersons.

He said after the Congress Government came into power land to the extent of 60,000 acres was acquired.

With regard to medium irrigation projects, 7,909 acres of land was acquired, leaving a balance of 25,571 acres.

The Government made a budgetary allocation of Rs 895 crore for 2005-06 for land acquisition against Rs 528 crore last year.

Stating that the Government required to acquire 18,590 acres of forest land, he said the officials in at least 10 districts had earmarked 26,000 acres for reimbursing the Forest Department. The Government would also make provisions to develop social forestry in that land. The officials had been asked not to include this land in the second phase of land distribution scheme.

Commenting on Karnataka's all-party delegation meeting the Prime Minister to put a halt to irrigation projects in Andhra Pradesh, Mr Lakshmaiah said it was just a publicity stunt.

He said Andhra Pradesh had a right to use surplus water under the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal.

"If we don't use surplus water, it will go waste into the Sea," he said.

He alleged that both Maharashtra and Karnataka had violated the water award, resulting in reduction of downstream flows.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 30, 2005)
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