Over the years, the government has launched various schemes and initiatives to bring more land under irrigation. In 1992, the government initiated micro-irrigation in the country and later launched the centrally sponsored scheme on micro-irrigation. In June 2010, it launched the National Mission on Micro Irrigation, which continued till 2014 and was later subsumed under the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture. Further, from April 1, 2015, the micro-irrigation component of on-farm water management has been subsumed under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY). Currently, the PMKSY and the micro-irrigation fund (MIF) schemes are two of the biggest initiatives for the development of irrigation in the country.
Indian Infrastructure takes a look at the progress of these schemes…
The Ministry of Jal Shakti launched the PMKSY in 2015 with the aim to enhance access to water for farms across the country and expand cultivable areas under assured irrigation. It was conceived by the central government with the dual purpose of ensuring protective irrigation for all agricultural farms and producing more output per unit of water. The scheme has two key components – the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) and Har Khet Ko Pani (HKKP).
The AIBP was launched to provide central assistance to states for major and medium irrigation projects in the country, with the objective to accelerate the implementation of advanced-stage irrigation projects held up due to financial constraints. Under this scheme, priority was given to projects that were started in the pre-fifth or the fifth five-year plan period as well as to those that were benefiting tribal and drought-prone areas. Till June 2022, a total of 106 projects have been taken up under the AIBP, of which 46 projects have been completed.
The HKKP consists of four subcomponents – Command Area Development and Water Management (CAD&WM); Surface Minor Irrigation (SMI); Repair, Renovation and Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies; and Ground Water Development. As of June, 2022, 85 irrigation projects and 46 major and medium projects have been completed under the CAD&WM and AIBP respectively. In addition, two national projects, Lakhwar and Renuka, were approved in December 2021. A total of 1.39 million hectares of irrigation potential has been envisaged to be created during 2021-26 period. Further, 3.02 Mha of common area development works have been planned during 2021-26.
Further, the government has approved the completion of ongoing projects for SMI and RRR of waterbodies with the creation of 0.37 Mha of irrigation potential and new projects for the creation of 0.08 Mha of irrigation potential during 2021-26. In addition, the implementation of the groundwater component during 2021-22 was targeted to create 0.15 Mha of irrigation potential. In addition, the completion of sanctioned projects covering 4.95 Mha of rainfed or degraded land under the watershed development component, along with 0.25 Mha additional area to be brought under protective irrigation, has been approved for implementation.
Further, the PMKSY consists of two components being implemented by other ministries, namely, per drop more crop (PDMC) and WDC. PDMC, being implemented and administered by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, lays the groundwork for addressing water-related concerns by methodically increasing water productivity and conservation, and also promotes the implementation of micro-irrigation techniques across the country. In June 2022, Haryana launched a state-level flagship programme for drip irrigation under PDMC. A one-day seminar and demonstration was organised for farmers to increase awareness regarding drip irrigation at 7,500 locations across the state, where water depth is below 100 feet. Under this initiative, 1,445 villages have been identified with water tables below 100 feet depth for the implementation of the scheme and the drip irrigation system.
The Department of Land Resources has taken up a number of new initiatives to revamp the implementation of the WDC. It launched the Srishti and Drishti Bhuvan Portal for the planning and monitoring of projects. Also, the department is implementing the public finance management system to make payments, execute expenditure filing and track expenditure of funds in real time. Currently, 13 groundwater irrigation schemes and 1,139 watershed development works are under implementation under the PMKSY.
The MIF scheme was created with National Bank For Agriculture And Rural Development (NABARD) during 2018-19, with an initial corpus of Rs 50 billion. The scheme aims to promote micro-irrigation in the country by facilitating the state government efforts towards mobilising additional resources for expanding coverage under micro-irrigation and incentivising its adoption beyond the provisions of the PMKSY-PDMC. In the Union Budget 2021-22, the initial corpus has been augmented by another Rs 50 billion.
Under the MIF, projects worth Rs 39.7 billion were approved till March 2021 for Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, West Bengal, Punjab and Uttarakhand. This will bring 1.28 Mha of area under micro-irrigation. In a recent development in May 2022, NABARD extended financial support of Rs 197.18 billion for agriculture and rural development in Haryana for 2022-23. A total of Rs 0.25 billion under the MIF has also been released for the judicious use of water resources to introduce micro-irrigation facilities for farmers’ crops. In addition, a grant of Rs 0.1 billion has been released for supporting various development initiatives in the farm sector, off-farm sector, skill development, financial literacy, and programmes on employment generation.
Over the past few years, the irrigation sector has gained momentum with the implementation of various government schemes and projects. There is still huge scope for expansion and improvement in the sector, with more than half of the sown land left unirrigated and many states still dependent on traditional methods of irrigation. There exists a gap in the achievement rate of these initiatives in different states. States like Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have seen a significant improvement in the development of the irrigation sector under the PMKSY.
While there has been a push from the centre for the implementation of schemes like the PMKSY and MIF, more state-level participation is required for the timely completion of projects and improvement of established systems for irrigation. The Karnataka government has allocated Rs 50 billion under the Upper Krishna project for irrigation. In addition, Rs 30 billion each has been allotted for the completion of the Upper Bandra project and the Yettinahole project in the budget for 2022-23. Apart from this, the Karnataka government is planning to bring an additional 1 Mha of land under irrigation.
There is also a need for the promotion of micro-irrigation at state level and faster adoption of micro-irrigation methods to overcome the challenges of water supply and water use efficiency. This can be achieved with a collaborative effort of the centre and the states for the optimal utilisation of funds for micro-irrigation.