Highlighting the efforts of ICAR in scientific water management in line with the Jal Shakti Abhiyan Shri T. Mohapatra, DG ICAR and Secretary DARE said that measures like scheduling irrigation, constructive use of water, proper crop selection and utilising modern irrigation technologies are some major aspects which will enhance water security ensuring a high agricultural productivity. Shri Mohapatra added that after initiation of Jal Shakti Abhiyan by the Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, over 10.8 crore farmers have been trained through the Krishi Vigyan Kendras and 371 melas were conducted across the country from July 1st till date.
Detailing the benefits of several water conservation methods, Shri Mohapatra said that about 35-40% water could be saved and 20-25% reduction in fertilizer use could be ensured by scheduling of irrigation. Moisture sensors and automated irrigation systems which can be controlled by a farmer using mobile phone will help in deciding the time and amount of irrigation to be carried out. Constructive use of water, which includes use of recycled water and proper selection of crops, also helps in enhancing water security. Alternatives like cultivation of Fruits, Millets, Bajra and selection of proper varieties of crops also ensure constructive utilisation of water. Using Bio mulch and Hydro Gels which ensures slow release of water and utilising microbes that help in efficient absorption of water shall help in further ensuring reduced and proper utilisation of water in agriculture.
Explaining the objectives of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) Shri Mohapatra said that District Irrigation Plans has been prepared by the respective states based on the technical support from ICAR for implementation under PMKSY so that the slogan Har khet ko pani may be translated into reality. ICAR also contributed in preparing State Specific Action Plan for water sector for scientific assessment of the supply and demand side of water resources and vulnerability to climate change under National Water Mission. This will help to formulate annual State/UT Water Budgets and hence, allocation and efficient utilization of available water resources.
Shri Mohapatra added that steps are being taken by Government in ensuring that the groundwater usage for irrigation is reduced. Water is the critical input of agriculture and about 80% of the current water use is drawn by agriculture. Out of 140 million ha of net sown area in the country, net irrigated area accounts about 68.38 million ha (48.8%) and remaining 51.2% is under rainfed. Out of the net irrigated area, about 40% is irrigated through canal systems and 60% is irrigated through groundwater. An important challenge facing the irrigation sector in India is the growing gap between Irrigation Potential Created (IPC) and Irrigation Potential Utilized (IPU), and uneven distribution of water over the length of the canal system. The overall irrigation efficiency of the major and medium irrigation projects is estimated to be around 38%. The efficiency of surface irrigation system can be improved from about 35-40% to around 50-60% and that of groundwater from about 65-70% to 72-75%.
Shri Mohapatra added that low irrigation efficiency (35-40%), inequity in water distribution, mismatch between irrigation water supply and crop water demand, tail enders deprivation, irrigation induced salinity and waterlogging are some of the major challenges being faced in the canal commands. Similarly, in the groundwater irrigated command, indiscriminate withdrawal of groundwater has resulted in decline of groundwater table in North-Western and Southern regions. Contrary to this, the groundwater development in the Eastern region is sub-optimal. The stage of groundwater development in India is 63.3%. However, it is 166%, 140%, 137% and 120% in states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi, respectively, which has serious negative consequences.
India with a geographical area of 328 M ha supports more than 18% of the world’s population, but has only 4.2% of freshwater resources. The country receives annual precipitation (including snowfall) of almost 4000 billion cubic meter (BCM), which results into estimated average water potential of 1869 BCM. Per capita annual water availability has declined from 5177 m3 in 1951 to 1508 m3 by 2014 and likely to reduce further to 1465 m3 and 1235 m3 by 2025 and 2050, respectively. The situation may further deteriorate, if anticipated impact of climate change on hydrology and water resources are also considered.