Over the years, the government has been making concerted efforts towards the efficient management of water resources through various flagship initiatives such as the PradhanMantriKrishiSinchayeeYojana (PMKSY), the Interlinking of Rivers [ILR] Programme, and the Command Area Development and Water Management [CADWM] Programme, among others. In the past few years, these initiatives have had some success in bringing about visible improvements in irrigation practices at the state level. The improvements have been both in terms of the number of projects undertaken and the irrigation potential created.
Indian Infrastructure takes a look at these programmes and the progress so far…
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana
Launched in 2015, the PMKSY aims to enhance access to water for farms across the country and expand cultivable area under assured irrigation. It has been conceived by the central government with the dual purpose of ensuring some means of protective irrigation for all agricultural farms and producing more output per unit of water. Besides, the PMKSY will ensure convergence with all rural assets/infrastructure-based programmes related to water conservation and management such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the RashtriyaKrishiVikasYojana, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission and rural electrification programmes.
The total outlay proposed for the PMKSY is Rs 500 billion over 2015-20 for four key components – the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP), HarKhetKoPani (HKKP), Per Drop More Crop (PDMC) and the Watershed Development Component (WDC). Besides the HKKP, the other three components are pre-existing programmes and have received 82 per cent of the outlay. The only new component, the HKKP, involving the creation of a water harvesting structure in every village, has been allocated less than 20 per cent of the total resources.
The AIBP was launched in 1996-97 as a central assistance programme for accelerating the implementation of large projects that were beyond the resource capability of states and for completing other irrigation projects that were at an advanced stage but were delayed due to resource constraints faced by the state governments. However, in 2015-16, it was made one of the four components of the PMKSY. In 2016-17, 99 ongoing major/medium irrigation projects under the PMKSY-AIBP with an ultimate irrigation potential of 7.6 million hectares and balance estimated cost of Rs 775.95 billion (central assistance component of Rs 313.42 billion) were prioritised in consultation with states for completion in phases. As of March 12, 2020, work on 40 projects stands completed, creating an irrigation potential of 1.82 million hectares. State-wise, the maximum irrigation potential has been created in the states of Gujarat (0.53 million hectares), Uttar Pradesh (0.51 million hectares), Maharashtra (0.17 million hectares) and Madhya Pradesh (0.16 million hectares).
The PMKSY-PDMC component focuses on enhancing water use efficiency at the farm level through drip and sprinkler systems. Of the micro-irrigation coverage target of 10 million hectares for the period 2015-16 to 2019-20, 4.31 million hectares has been brought under micro-irrigation, an achievement of 43.1 per cent (as on February 25, 2020). Central assistance to the tune of Rs 115.87 billion has been released for the PDMC component during the period under consideration. Meanwhile, an annual allotment of Rs 40 billion for 2020-21 has been made to the state governments. Further, a micro-irrigation fund corpus of Rs 50 billion has been created with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). The objective of the fund is to assist the states in mobilising resources for expanding micro-irrigation coverage by taking up special and innovative projects and also for incentivising micro-irrigation beyond the provisions available under the PDMC. So far, micro irrigation funds of Rs 6.16 billion and Rs 4.79 billion have been released to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, respectively, through NABARD. The area covered under these projects is 0.1 million hectares and 0.18 million hectares respectively.
The WDC of the programme, the erstwhile Integrated Watershed Management Programme, aims to improve soil moisture conservation and protective irrigation sources through small water harvesting structures. The potential coverage area identified under the WDC for the period 2014-15 to 2019-20 was 1.15 million hectares. Besides, as of February 2020, an additional area of 1.38 million hectares has been brought under the component. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has released funds amounting to Rs 100.13 billion so far.
Schemes for surface minor irrigation as well as repair, renovation and restoration of waterbodies are being implemented under the HKKP. From 2014-15 to 2018-19, central assistance to the tune of Rs 28.49 billion and Rs 3.96 billion, respectively, was released for the two schemes. Of the targeted potential coverage of 0.6 million hectares under the HKKP, an area of 0.38 million hectares has been irrigated during the five-year period under consideration, an achievement of 63.33 per cent.
Interlinking of Rivers Programme
The ILR Programme aims to ensure greater equity in water distribution by enhancing the availability of water in drought-prone and rain-fed areas. Under the National Perspective Plan prepared by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has identified 30 links (16 under the peninsular component and 14 under the Himalayan component) for the inter-basin transfer of water, based on field surveys and investigations and detailed studies. Pre-feasibility reports for all 30 links have been prepared and circulated to the concerned state governments by the NWDA. Further, feasibility reports of 14 links under the peninsular component, and feasibility reports of two links and draft feasibility reports of seven links (Indian portion) under the Himalayan component stand completed.
Command Area Development and Water Management Programme
The government initiated the centrally sponsored Command Area Development Programme in 1974 to improve the irrigation potential utilisation and optimise agricultural production from irrigated land through an integrated and coordinated approach to efficient water management. The programme was restructured during the last three years of the Tenth Plan period (2004-07) and renamed the CADWM Programme to make it more comprehensive and beneficial to farmers. The scheme was implemented as a state sector scheme during the Eleventh Plan (2008-09 to 2011-12) and during the initial years of the Twelfth Plan it was implemented paripassu with the AIBP.
As per the 2018 year-end review of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, of the 99 prioritised AIBP projects, state governments have stated that CADWM works are either not required or are deemed completed in nine projects. Of the remaining 90 projects, 86 have been included in the CADWM Programme. The balance cultivable command area in respect of these 86 projects is about 4.2 million hectares and the target central assistance is Rs 81.76 billion, while the total cost is estimated at Rs 178 billion.
Over the past few years, the irrigation sector has gained traction with greater focus on major and medium/multipurpose irrigation projects. Over Rs 5 trillion is planned to be invested in various projects announced under centrally sponsored schemes and programmes. However, the achievement of these programmes has not been satisfactory. Despite the much-needed government push, there exist significant inter-component variations. While the WDC and the HKKP components have recorded satisfactory progress, progress under the AIBP and PDMC components has not been up to the mark. There also exist significant interstate variations in achievement rates. While the states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana have performed quite well under the PMKSY-AIBP component, the performance of Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Goa, Kerala, Rajasthan and Manipur has been below par.
Taking the current situation into consideration, the PMKSY needs to be strengthened for creation of the necessary irrigation infrastructure. There also needs to be increased focus on water use efficiency in the irrigation sector. Though there are tools, technology and science to ensure efficient water management, little has been done till date. Therefore, the timely and successful completion of projects and schemes being promoted by the government to ensure increased irrigation capacity, better water management practices and use of advanced technologies is of paramount importance for the growth of the sector.