6th Census Report on Minor Irrigation Schemes

Irrigation Schemes

Context: Ministry of Jal Shakti has released the 6th Census Report on Minor Irrigation Schemes. 

About Minor Irrigation Schemes

  • Minor Irrigation Schemes are defined as those structures either in groundwater or in the surface water category having culturable command areas up to 2,000 hectares. 
  • Ground Water schemes provide irrigation throughout the year and are dependable which has helped in sustaining agricultural production over the past years. Groundwater-based minor irrigation schemes comprise dug wells, dug-cum bore wells, shallow, medium and deep tube wells.
    • Dug wells cover ordinary open wells of varying dimensions, dug or sunk from the ground surface into a water-bearing stratum to extract water for irrigation.
  • Surface water scheme comprises surface flow schemes and surface lift irrigation schemes. Surface flow schemes typically consist of tanks, check-dams, and structures and can serve as water conservation cum groundwater recharge schemes. These structures are generally prevalent in hilly regions.
    • Surface lift schemes are generally built in regions where topography does not permit direct flow irrigation from rivers and streams and hence water must be lifted into irrigation channels. 

Benefits of Minor Irrigation Schemes 

  • Need small investment
  • Have short gestation periods in which they become functional
  • Benefits of these schemes directly reach farmers
  • Have better control overflow of water
  • Contribute a substantial share of irrigation across the country 
  • Thus, minor irrigation schemes are essential and critical to increase the productivity of agriculture in the country. This is especially true in the face of climate change. 

Minor Irrigation Census

  • Government of India has been conducting a census of minor irrigation schemes to create sound and reliable data for minor irrigation schemes for effective policy and planning in this sector. 
  • Till now 5 minor irrigation censuses have been done 1986-87, 1993-94, 2000-01, 2006-07 and 2013-14 respectively. 
  •  The 6th minor irrigation census with reference year 2017-18 was completed in 32 States/ UTs.

Highlights of the 6th Minor Irrigation Census

  • Number of minor irrigation schemes: There are 23.14 million minor irrigation schemes in India spread over 695 districts. Of these 21.93 million (94.8%) are groundwater and 1.21 million (5.2%) are surface water schemes. As compared to the 5th Minor Irrigation Census, there is an increase of 6.6% in the number of minor irrigation schemes in the 6th Minor Irrigation Census. Dug wells have the highest share in MI schemes followed by shallow tube wells, medium tube wells and deep tube wells.
  • Groundwater-based minor irrigation schemes: Groundwater accounts for a major share (94.8%) of all minor irrigation schemes in India. Among the Groundwater schemes, dug wells and shallow tube wells are declining whereas there is an increase in medium and deep tube wells. Among surface water schemes, the share of surface lift is declining while the share of surface flow schemes is increasing. UP, Maharashtra,  Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have the greatest number of Groundwater based minor irrigation schemes. 
  • Surface water-based minor irrigation schemes: Surface lift schemes are declining whereas surface flow schemes are increasing. 
  • Irrigation Potential Created (IPC) & Utilised (IPU) by minor irrigation schemes: IPC and IPU from groundwater-based schemes have increased while IPC and IPU for surface water schemes have declined during the 6th minor irrigation census. This implies a declining dependency of farmers on surface water schemes and an increasing dependency on groundwater schemes for meeting minor irrigation needs. 
  • State-wise distribution of minor irrigation schemes: UP has the largest number of minor irrigation schemes (17.2%) followed by Maharashtra (15.4%), MP (9.9%) and Tamil Nadu (9.1%). 
  • Ownership of minor irrigation schemes: 96.6% of minor irrigation schemes are under private ownership whereas 3.4% are under public ownership. Therefore, most minor irrigation schemes are owned by individuals or groups of farmers. In GW schemes, the share of private ownership is 98.3% while in surface water schemes private ownership stands at 64.2%. For the first time, information on the gender of the owner of the MI scheme was collected. 18.1% of minor irrigation schemes are owned by women. 
  • Financing of minor irrigation schemes: Own saving of farmers is the major source of financing for installation of minor irrigation schemes. Thus, there is a need for more financial support to farmers by financial institutions.
  • Mode of water distribution: There has been an improvement in water use efficiency and a decline in the wastage of water using improved water distribution devices over the years. The use of open channels for conveying water to fields has declined to 42% (though still the most dominant mode). Correspondingly, the share of efficient water distribution systems like surface pipe, underground pipe, drip and sprinklers has increased. Underground pipe has recorded the highest increase followed by surface pipe and drip. 
  • Lifting devices in minor irrigation schemes: Majority of schemes i.e., 57.6% have submersible pumps followed by 37.1% centrifugal pumps, and 1.9% turbine whereas 3.4% are operated by manual/animal lifting and other devices. 76% of schemes use electricity as a source of energy followed by diesel pumps in 22.2% of schemes.

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