LAHORE (APP) The Punjab government has launched another mega agriculture project, Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement (PIAPI), costing Rs 36 billion for bringing maximum Barani (rain-fed) areas under plough to meet increasing needs of food. This was stated by Punjab Minister for Agriculture Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh while talking to APP here Sunday. Unfolding distinctive features of the mega project, he said that a tract of 1,20,000 acres of land will benefit through drip and sprinkler irrigation system while 9000 watercourses will be lined in addition to execution of 2000 new irrigation schemes. It also includes provision of 3000 laser land-levellers at subsidized rates under the project. He said Punjab government has tailored a master plan to augment the irrigation water supplies through adopting modern water conservation technologies and proper lining of watercourses. He said an initial amount of Rs 900 million has already been released for execution of pilot project. Ahmad Ali Aulakh said that Punjab government,on the special directive of Chief Minister Punjab, has also initiated one more mega project worth Rs 876 million in the command areas of greater thal canal (GTC) under which an area of 0.35 million acres will be irrigated for the first time in the history. The Minister further added that government has also recently completed a project costing Rs 300 million under which drip irrigation system has been installed for promotion of cotton cultivation on 2000 acres in 6 districts of Thal region. The Minister urged the agriculture scientists and engineers to design cost effective farm machinery to enable the small growers who constitutes 90 per cent for the total farming community in the province to adopt mechanised farming for better yield and bumper crops. When contacted DG Water Management,Punjab,Chaudhary Muhammad Ashraf said on the special directive of Secretary Agriculture Arif Nadeem, a special monitoring cell has been constituted to monitor the timely execution of all on going mega projects.