Work on eight major and 18 medium projects was under way for the last two to three decades. The delay was not only financially hurting the tribal state, more than half of whose population lives below the poverty line, but also adding to the woes of the farmers, already reeling under successive droughts.

Take the case of the partially completed Swarnrekha Multi Purpose Project (SMPP), the biggest irrigation project in the state. Mooted in 1973, its cost was estimated at Rs 128.99 crore (almost USD 19 million) in 1978. The estimate was revised in 2011 to Rs.6,613.74 crore. Till February 2015, the expenditure was about Rs.3,575 crores.

The state government plans to complete the SMPP by 2017-2018, when it will irrigate more than 200,000 hectares of agricultural land against the over 45,000 hectares it now services. Besides the SMPP, there were scores of large, medium and small irrigation projects pending in the state.

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