The central government has promised to assist Jharkhand in the state’s pending irrigation projects, an official said on Tuesday.

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari was in Jharkhand on Monday and held a high level meeting with Chief Minister Raghubar Das and officials of the Water Resources Department.

“In the meeting central ministers assured to assist the state to complete the irrigation projects. The ministers also asked to explore for pipeline irrigation projects,” Additional Chief Secretary of the Water Resources Department Sukhdeo Singh told IANS.

He said: “In Jharkhand, the created potential of irrigation is 9.91 lakh hectares of the total cultivable land of 27 lakh hectares. This way the created potential of irrigation is 36 per cent but actual covered irrigation area is 20 per cent. The central minister assured to assist in bridging the gap of 16 per cent.”

Gadkari also asked the state government to explore irrigation system for the uncovered area. Sources in the government said that the minister suggested for pipeline irrigation system to avoid protest over land acquisition.

In Jharkhand, farmers depend on rainfall for farming. There are 102 small, medium or big irrigation projects pending, with many such projects stuck for more than 40 years.

Sources in the Water Resources Department said that before the formation of Jharkhand, funds were not available for the irrigation projects causing delay. But after its formation in 2000, land acquisition became a big issue.

Gadkari told officials to prepare a detailed project report for the new projects and the Centre would assist the state.