Agri Business

World Bank to fund reclamation of saline lands in Maharashtra

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on January 12, 2018

The project, a part of the larger umbrella project called Climate Resistant Agriculture, will receive ₹4,000 crore joint funding from the World Bank and Maharashtra government

The World Bank will fund a Maharashtra government project for reclaiming saline lands, spread over 5 lakh hectares affecting 1,000 villages in the State.

A significant percentage of the lands are in the farmer’s suicide-prone Vidarbha region.

The project is a part of the larger umbrella project called Climate Resistant Agriculture, which will receive ₹4,000 crore joint funding from the Bank and Maharashtra government.

The World Bank will provide ₹2,800 crore while the rest will be contributed by the State government.

A senior Maharashtra government official told BusinessLine that the salinity in the soil is not triggered by excess irrigation. It is a geological condition, which needs to be treated.

The topography of the villages is such that the rain water does not get drained easily. Therefore, efforts would be made revive the natural drainage systems, which will help bring back the soil health, the official said.

The official pointed that in some areas cultivation is happening on saline lands but the crop yields are very low therefore in such areas salinity resistant seeds would also be provided for higher yields.

An MoU will also be signed with the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI), Haryana, for expertise in the tackling the salinity.

A majority of the affected villages are in cotton producing districts of Akola, Amravati and Buldahan in Vidarbha. Some villages in Jalgaon, Northern Maharashtra are also affected.

The villages are in close proximity of Purna river, which is a tributary of Godavari, the official said. Currently, project reports are being prepared and the disbursal of the funds will start by August.

The work on the larger project of making Maharashtra climate resistant is also underway, which will impact altogether 5,000 villages in the region.

Estimated expenditure

The official said that over next six years, on an average ₹80 lakh will be spent on each village. Along with salinity mitigation, watershed development and developing post-harvest infrastructure in the villages are also other goals of the project.

For developing post-harvest technology, the State Government will engage with 200 Farmer Producer Companies by helping them set up mini-pulses processing mills. They will also get a back ended subsidy on their loans.

Published on January 16, 2017

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