Hyderabad: Finance minister T. Harish Rao on Monday made best use of successful implementation of Kaleswaram lift irrigation scheme and other irrigation projects to project that the country’s most expensive direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme of Dalit Bandhu is indeed doable.
Dalit Bandhu is for providing Rs 10 lakh cash assistance in the form of grant to all the 7 lakh Dalit families in the state, and requires at least Rs 1.7 lakh crore in the next three years for Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao to fulfil his promise.
Asked about the availability of funds, the minister said the Opposition parties and experts expressed doubts when the Chief Minister announced the Kaleswaram project. “I was the irrigation minister then,” he said adding that the government made it possible thanks to the determination of Chandrashekar Rao. “He will find a way for Dalit Bandhu also,” said the minister.
Harish Rao also defended sale of lands to mobilise revenues in contrast to the claims of the state’s prosperity. The funds thus accrued are spent for state’s development, he pointed out. “We are building Kaleswaram and distributing sheep to the poor,” he said adding that both initiatives had yielded the desired results.
The minister referred to the drop in farmers suicides, record production of paddy and other crops and massive growth in the gross value of output (GVO) for livestock as symbols of success. The Opposition questioned distribution of sheep but the gross value of output of meat grew by three times from Rs 8,000 crore to Rs 26,000 crore. New water sources helped in doubling the GVO of inland fish and prawns, he added.