The Working Group on Major & Medium Irrigation Programme for the Tenth Plan has proposed a total outlay of the order of Rs 1,09,025 crore, of which a lion’s share of Rs 1,07,327 crore would be under State Plan for the development of major and medium irrigation.
In a report submitted to the Planning Commission, the Group – under the Chairmanship of the Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources – said that in the proposal for State sector plan, provision for special repairs of the existing irrigation system, dam safety measures, improved water management, water development activities including survey and investigation, R&D and training, have also been made.
An outlay of Rs 1,698 crore has been proposed in the Central sector for major and medium irrigation schemes.
Three scenarios have been worked out by the Group as targets for creation of potential depends on availability of funds. These include full funding as recommended by the Group, 75 per cent level of funding and 60 per cent level of funding, corresponding to which target for creation of potential has been kept as 11.14 million hectare (mha), 8.35 mha and 6.68 mha respectively.
A review of the land-use statistics indicates that net sown area in the country has been stagnating at 140-142 mha for the last 30 years, while per capita water availability has been steadily declining. As such, there is no alternative to raising the productivity of land and water, which should be sustainable on long-term basis.
Irrigation development, as such, has to focus in future on higher crop intensity alongwith improved irrigation efficiency. Public investment in irrigation has fallen significantly over successive Plan periods from 23 per cent of the total outlay in the First Plan to seven per cent in the Eighth Plan.
As resource constraint is evident from the large number of ongoing projects spilling over from Plan to Plan, revival of public investment in irrigation and water management has become necessary, the group said.
Stating that from the Fifth Plan onwards, a large number of schemes have been taken up by the State Governments without adequate financial resources, it said that this has led to thin spreading of resources resulting in the vicious cycle of time and cost overruns.
In all, 159 major and 242 medium projects are likely to spill over into the 10th Plan. In view of the resource shortage, priority for completion of the ongoing projects need to be fixed taking into account various aspects such as externally-aided projects, inter-State projects, benefit to drought-prone or tribal areas, drinking water supply and regional imbalance.
The report said that although completion of the continuing old projects was to be accorded high priority, new projects might be taken up “very selectively”, keeping in view the necessity for removal of regional imbalances and development of drought-prone and tribal areas.
There are 67 major and 130 medium new projects proposed to be taken up during the 10th Plan, the group said.
The group has underlined the need for taking up extension, renovation and modernisation (ERM) of the existing schemes in order to restore eroded potential or extend scope of the projects with some modifications.
About 89 ERM schemes are likely to spill over into the 10th Plan and 34 new such schemes are proposed to be taken up. As lack of maintenance of the extant projects – due to paucity of funds for operation and maintenance works – has been affecting the envisaged project potentials, provision of some exclusive fund for O&M works could be considered in the Tenth Plan, it added.