Despite increasing shortage and stress on water assets, India uses irrigation water lazily. It is worrying to footnote that only 50% enters the river and most of which reaches the ocean. Further, you’ll be shocked to find out that as much as 50% of fresh water is wasted in the country as a result of leakages and inefficiencies in the water management system.
The area under irrigation can be doubled in the country without requiring extra water if we attain water use efficiency level of countries like Israel and USA. Fast track Incentives to expand irrigation cover in the country with Drought Proofing Technology & Best Practices is essential to save water and to multiply productivity. The objective of the Government should be increasing the current level of irrigation cover which is 46% of the total cropped area to the next peak as soon as possible to prevent Indian farmers from monsoon shocks.
Micro-Irrigation Will Help Increase Yield and Save Precious Water
Out of about 142 million hectares of cultivable land in the country, only 65 million hectares (46%) is currently covered under irrigation and this is also an estimated number. The theoretical potential area under micro-irrigation is around 70 Million Ha and as of March 2015, the total area under Micro Irrigation is only 7 Million Ha as reported by a leading irrigation company.
A national level apex body needs to be constituted with governing members from both private and public sector to make this dream of making the entire country under irrigation a reality. The irrigation cover should be implemented like how the government has looked at roads. Targets and budgets need to be allocated, and the government should track the project like how it implements National highways or any rail project for that matter.
The main source of irrigation for India is groundwater and is fast depleting across the country. Hence large initiatives towards interlinking of Indian Rivers will definitely progress country’s agriculture. Besides boosting the irrigation capability of Indian farming, the inter-linking of rivers will also help prevent floods in most part of the country.
India is not a water deficit country, but due to severe neglect and lack of monitoring of water resources development projects, several regions in the country experience water stress from time to time.
Image Source: Alexis Liu, IWMI