Irrigation potential in India at 106 million hectares

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, February 21, 2010

Irrigation potential in India had increased to 106 million hectares (mha) today from about 23 mha in 1951, thanks to the construction of 4711 large dams, Minister for Water Resources Pawan Kumar Bansal has said.

Mr Bansal told the Parliamentary Consultative Commiteee attached to his ministry on Friday that this had helped increase the production of foodgrains in the country from 51 million tonnes in 1951 to about 231 million tonnes (MT) at present.

He, however, expressed concern that, due to competing and increasing demand for water from various other sectors such as domestic and industries, the share of water for agriculture was likely to go down from 83 per cent at present to about 68 per cent by 2050.

This, he said, meant that in order to meet the foodgrain requirements of the growing population, estimated to be about 400 MT in 2050, the available water resources would have to be put to optimum use to support agricultural production.

He said this had to be done by bringing more area under irrigated agriculture and by improving the water management of existing systems and through measures for improving efficiency in water use in agriculture, improved agricultural and agronomical practices, on farm development works, conjunctive use of surface and ground water, recycling of waste water, and so on.

Optimizing production and productivity from irrigated agriculture, which is a multi-disciplinary enterprise requiring integrated and coordinated approach, has been the Government's foremost concern., he added.

Mr Bansal informed the committee that, under the restructured and renamed Command Area Development & Water Management (CADWM) programme, central assistance was provided to the State Governments on 50:50 basis for construction activities and 75: 25 basis to carry out training programmes for field functionaries/farmers, adaptive trials and demonstrations in the farmers fields.

He said the performance of the CADWM programme was being periodically evaluated. So far, 53 evaluation studies had been completed in various parts of the country. The programme is being continued during the XIth Plan as a State Sector Scheme with an outlays of Rs 1600 crore.

Minister of State for Water Resources Vincent H Pala said 15 states had so far enacted Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) Acts while three had drafted Bills and were in the process of enacting them. He said a command area of 13.42 mha had been covered under PIM by way of formation of 56,934 Water Users Association’s (WUAs) in various States. More WUAs will be formed under the programme during the remaining period of the XIth Plan Period.