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ADB offers $375m for irrigation services in Punjab

ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government signed on Friday two loans totalling $375 million to improve irrigation services and promote public-private partnerships (PPP) in Punjab.
The irrigation project will become part of the Indus Basin Irrigation System and directly benefit the farming families of the target area, while the PPP project will strengthen the capacity of the provincial government to improve key infrastructure and service delivery in the province.
“The investments will build a new Kharif season irrigation system and further develop PPPs in the province,” said Country Director ADB for Pakistan.
The loan agreements were signed by Xiaohong Yang and Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Syed Ghazanfar Abbas Jilani. Secretary Planning and Development, Department of Punjab Iftikhar Ali Sahoo and Secretary Punjab Irrigation Department Asadullah signed the project agreements on behalf of the provincial government.
The $275m Jalalpur Irrigation Project will develop a surface irrigation system in Jhelum and Khushab districts by drawing water from Jhelum River at Rasul Barrage.
The project will convert over 68,000 hectares of less productive and predominantly rain-fed area into irrigated farmland benefiting 384,000 people.
The irrigation system will include intake structure at Rasul Barrage, 117km-long main canal, distributaries, minor canals, cross-drainage structures, flood carrier channels, and associated structures.
The project will improve water-use capacity of 485 water user associations at each watercourse, who could participate in planning, designing, construction, operations, and maintenance of watercourses.
It will help water users to better manage their agriculture and water and introduce modern technologies and best practices like laser land levelling and high-efficiency irrigation systems.
The project will also strengthen the capacity of 6,000 farming families in irrigated agriculture practices, profitable farming and accessing private agriculture support services.
ADB is providing $100m loan for a project supporting PPPs in Punjab by augmenting the government’s viability gap fund to help enhance the commercial viability of projects, as well as attract and mobilise more private sector participation in PPPs.
Source: Dawn