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Indian Agriculture since Independence: Irrigation Policy & Watershed Development:

Irrigation Policy & Watershed Development

Irrigation schemes are divided into three categories on the basis of the area covered by them or the Culturable Command Area (CCA):

  • Major irrigation schemes have a potential CCA of more than 10,000 hectares.
  • Medium irrigation schemes have a potential CCA between 2,000 and 10,000 hectares
  • Minor irrigation schemes have a potential CCA of less than 2,000 hectares.
  • The ultimate irrigation potential of India is about 139.9 million ha. Through different irrigation schemes the total irrigation potential in the country has increased from 81.1 million ha in 1991-92 to 102.8 million ha in 2006-07 i.e. 73.5% of the ultimate irrigation potential.
  • However, in 2006-07, only 87.2 million ha (84.9%) of the total potential was actually utilized. Percent utilization of the minor schemes was 87.4% while that of major and medium schemes was only 81.3%.
  • The pace of creation of additional irrigation potential came down sharply from an average of about 3% per annum between 1950-51 and 1989-90 to 1.2%, 1.7% and 1.8% per annum, respectively, during the Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Five Year Plan periods.
  • The rate of growth of utilization of the potential was at even lower level of 1% per annum and 0.5% per annum, respectively, during Ninth and Tenth Plan periods.
  • The widening gap between irrigation potential and its utilization is accounted for by the delay in the construction of the field channels and in land levelling / improvement.
  • In order to bridge this gap and ensure farmer participation a centrally sponsored Command Area Development Programme (CADP) was launched in 1974-75 (at the beginning of Fifth Five Year Plan).

Main features of CADP are:

  • Its main objective are improving the utilization of created irrigation potential and optimizing agriculture production and productivity from irrigated lands on a sustainable basis.
  • CADP was initiated with 60 major and medium irrigation projects. So far 314 irrigation projects with a CCA of about 28.45 million ha have been covered.
  • The programme involves execution of On Farm Development (OFD) like constructing field channels and drains, land levelling and conjunctive use of surface and ground water. Conjunctive use of surface and groundwater consists of harmoniously combining the use of both sources of water in order to minimize the undesirable physical, environmental and economical effects of each solution and to optimize the water demand/supply balance. Usually conjunctive use of surface and groundwater is considered within a river basin management programme – i.e. both the river and the aquifer belong to the same basin.
  • Farmers are also encouraged to form Water Users Association to take up operation and maintenance of the system.
  • CADP has been restructured and will be implemented as Command Area Development and Water Management Programme (CADWMP) with effect from April 1, 2004.
  • Rural Infrastructure Development Programme (RIDF) launched in 1995-96 is another programme to give impetus to the irrigation projects.

Main features of RIDF are:

  • Its objective is to provide funds to State Governments and state owned corporations to enable them to complete not only the irrigation projects but also other types of rural infrastructure projects like watershed management, construction of rural roads, bridges etc.
  • The total corpus of RIDF from RIDF-I to RIDF-XI (1995-96 to 2005-06) amounts to Rs. 50, 000 crore.
  • The resources for the Fund are contributed by the scheduled commercial banks to the extent of shortfall in meeting their priority sector lending targets.
  • Of the cumulative RIDF loans sanctioned to state governments, 42 per cent have gone to the agriculture and allied sector, including irrigation and power: 15 per cent to health, education, and rural drinking water supply: while the share of rural roads and bridges has been 31 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively. The annual allocation of funds under the RIDF has gradually increased from Rs. 2,000 crore in 1995-6 (RIDF I) to Rs. 20,000 crore in 2012-13 (RIDF XVIII).

Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), launched in 1996-97 is a Central Government Programme in response to declining rate of creation in irrigation.

Its main features are:

  • Its main aim is to extend assistance by way of loans to the states in completion of irrigation schemes which had remained incomplete. The Planning Commission decides which schemes are eligibie for assistance.
  • The assistance, which was entirely a loan from the centre in the beginning, was modified with inclusion of a grant component from 2004-05.
  • The AIBP guidelines were further modified in December 2006 to provide for 90% of the project cost as grant to special category States, DPAParibal areas and KBK (Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi) districts of Odisha.
  • Under AIBP, with the help of about Rs. 64,228 crore of Central Loan Assistance (CLA)/grants has been released up to 31st December 2013. Currently, 63 million ha, or 45% of net cropped area, is irrigated.
  • An irrigation potential of 8054.61 thousand ha is estimated to have been created by states from major/medium/minor irrigation projects till March 2012.
  • The Command Area Development Programme has also been amalgamated with the AIBP to reduce the gap between irrigation potential that has been created and that is utilized.
  • National Project for Repair, Renovation and Restoration of Water Bodies directly linked to Agriculture is another programme to increase irrigation potential. Its main features are:
  • It was launched in 2005 with an estimated cost of Rs.300 crore to be shared by the Centre and States in 3:1 ratio.  Irrigation Policy & Watershed Development
  • The water bodies having CCA between 1 ha and 2000 ha were included in the pilot scheme. The scheme was approved for 26 districts in 15 states.
  • The physical work for restoration has been completed for 733 water bodies and the work is in progress in the remaining 356 water bodies.
  • Apart from these government programmes, many States have attempted to restore their water bodies with the World Bank assistance. The World Bank agreement has already been signed with the states of Tamil Nadu (to restore CCA of 4 lakh ha), Andhra Pradesh (to restore CCA of 2.5 lakh ha) and Karnataka (to restore CCA of 0.52 lakh ha). The proposals from Odisha and West Bengal have also been submitted to the World Bank.

Rainfed Area Development Programme:

  • Given the importance of rainfed agriculture in India, the Rainfed Area Development Programme (RADP) was launched by the government as a pilot scheme under the RKVY focusing on small and marginal farmers and farming systems.
  • It adopted a holistic ‘end-to-end approach’ covering integrated farming, on-farm water management, storage, marketing, and value addition of farm produce in order to enhance farmers’ income in rain fed areas.
  • During 2012-13, the RADP is being implemented in 22 states and will be substantially upscaled during the Twelfth Plan as a programme component under the NMSA.

National Water Policy: 2002

  • It lays greater emphasis on environment and equity concerns.
  • It recognises the need for construction and rehabilitation as important aspects of any water project.
  • Although, the policy does not describe water as a tradable commodity, it encourages private and management of water resources projects.  Irrigation Policy & Watershed Development


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