Irrigation schemes need effective implementation

Due to regulatory issues over 1,550 projects with Rs 26.5 lakh crore investment have been stuck and irrigation accounts for 2 %
Irrigation schemes need effective implementation

Due to regulatory issues over 1,550 projects with Rs 26.5 lakh crore investment have been stuck and irrigation accounts for 2 %

Given the conditions of agriculture sector, India can not afford to neglect irrigation projects and the government needs to implement newly introduced schemes effectively and in a time-bound manner. Several irrigation projects remained stuck in different stages between 2009 to 2014 across major 21 states.

Undoubtedly, heavy reliance on rainfed agriculture, during conditions of very variable rainfall and recurrent droughts, affects agriculture. Irrigation development has been identified as an important tool to stimulate agriculture growth and rural development. Enhancing public and private investment in irrigation development has been identified as one of the core strategies to delink economic performance from rainfall and to enable sustainable growth and development Irrigation can benefit the poor specifically through higher production, higher yields, lower risks of crop failure, and higher employment.

“Stuck investments have an evident effect of lowering the growth rate, besides stuck projects will have implication on cost of investments in real term and that will raise the capital-output ratio, an effect which can spread to other sectors as well,” said DS Rawat, Secretary Genera, Assocham said.

However, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY), the government aims to ensure access to water to every farm (“Har Khet Ko Pani”) and improving water use efficiency (“Per Drop More Crop”).

“Budget line to achieve synergy of resources has been created in Department of Agriculture, Water Resources and Land Resources to implement PMKSY for the year 2015-16. A total of Rs 5,300 has been allocated for this year to roll-out the scheme,” he added.

According to a senior official of Agriculture Ministry, out of Rs 5,300 crore, Rs 1,800 crore will go towards micro-irrigation. The remaining sums have been drawn mainly
from old schemes such as the erstwhile Integrated Watershed Management Programme
and the Acceleration Irrigation Benefit and Flood Management Programme.

However, there is an urgent need to remove policy bottlenecks. According to the study conducted bu Assocham Economic Research Bureau( AERB), lack of clearances (both environment and non-environment) accounted for major share of 12.5 per cent amid key reasons behind stuck projects followed by land acquisition problems (11 per cent), unfavourable market conditions (10 per cent), lack of funds and promoter interest (nine per cent each), poor supply of fuel/feedstock/raw material (four per cent), natural calamity (one per cent) and others.

Agriculture Ministry claimed that the new scheme aims to provide end-to-end solutions in the irrigation supply chain, including the water source, the distribution network and farm-level application. Irrigation for each farm is possible through the involvement of innovative micro irrigation techniques. The Ministry’s emphasis on micro irrigation is in the right direction and the allocation seems adequate in the short term.

Regional variation in irrigation facilities is yet another challenge. The recent irrigation investment is indicating that the sector’s investment is largely concentrated in few states of India as 47.1 percent of irrigation investment has recorded in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh. At the same time, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana and Punjab are the states that have recorded bottom place in terms of irrigation investment in India.

According to AERB, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka witnessed investment growth rate better than average All India growth rate in Irrigation. Punjab, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Telangana, Haryana and Gujarat registered a growth rate below average of All India growth rate.

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BK Jha is the Special Correspondent of Rural & Marketing. Prior to this he has been associated with The Hindustan Times, Political and Business Daily along with many other media organisations.
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