Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.

Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.

Chheligada Irrigation Project in Odisha


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Chheligada Irrigation Project

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea: Officials recently directed to begin construction of the multipurpose irrigation project at Chheligada, Odisha.

Chheligada Irrigation Project

  • The project is a multipurpose medium project located near the village of Chheligada in the Gajapati District of Odisha.
  • The project involves the construction of a 250m long and 30m high dam across the River Badjhore, a tributary of the River Vamsadhara.
  • It aims to preserve 5201 hectares of water and provide irrigation to 5760 hectares of land in Ganjam and 500 hectares of land in Gajapati districts.
  • The project will also supply drinking water to Brahampur City.
  • Furthermore, it includes the development of a mini hydel project at Shiali Loti, Kankata, and Dekili in the Gajapati district, with a capacity to generate 36 MW of electricity.

Salient features of the project

  1. A centrally located Ogee-type gated spillway with a length of 90m.
  2. Construction of a 1.13 km long tunnel connecting the Chheligada reservoir with the Ghodahada river.
  3. Establishment of a canal system to facilitate irrigation in the Gajapati district directly from the dam.
  4. Implementation of a pipeline network for supplying drinking water to Berhampur in the Ganjam district.


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Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.

Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP)

Mains level: Irrigation woes of India


Rajasthan has brought up the issue of the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project or ERCP before the Prime Minister.

Why in news?

  • The Chief Minister has said that it is not possible for the state government to bear the estimated project cost of around Rs 40,000 crore by itself.
  • The state wants the Centre to declare this as a national project so that the cost-sharing ratio between the Centre and the state becomes 90:10.

Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP)

  • ERCP was incepted with the aim of providing water to the drought-prone areas of the state.
  • It aims to harvest surplus water available during the rainy season in rivers in southern Rajasthan, such as the Chambal and its tributaries Kunnu, Parvati, and Kalisindh.
  • The project consists of the construction of two canals:
  1. Chambal Canal (which originates from the Chambal River)
  2. East Rajasthan Canal (which originates from the Mahi River)
  • The ERCP is expected to irrigate about 3.4 million hectares of agricultural land in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh states.
  • It is estimated to cost about Rs 51,000 crore and was expected to be completed by 2021.
  • The project was expected to benefit about 2.6 million farmers in Rajasthan and an additional 2.4 million in Madhya Pradesh.

When was the ERCP conceived?

  • In the state Budget for 2017-18, then Rajasthan government had said that the ERCP will help fulfil the long-term irrigation and drinking water needs of 13 districts: Jhalawar, Baran, Kota, Bundi, Sawai Madhopur, Ajmer, Tonk, Jaipur, Karauli, Alwar, Bharatpur, Dausa, and Dholpur.
  • The project was approved by the Central Water Commission in 2017.
  • The state government had sent a proposal to the central government to declare ERCP as a project having national importance.


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Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.

What is Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR)

Mains level: Paddy cultivation in India

The Punjab government recently announced Rs 1,500 incentive per acre for farmers opting for Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR), which is known for saving water.

What is DSR technique?

  • In transplanting, farmers prepare nurseries where the paddy seeds are first sown and raised into young plants.
  • These seedlings are then uprooted and replanted 25-35 days later in the main field.
  • Paddy seedlings are transplanted on fields that are “puddled” or tilled in standing water using tractor-drawn disc harrows.
  • In DSR, there is no nursery preparation or transplantation. The seeds are instead directly drilled into the field by a tractor-powered machine.

How much water is required to grow one kg rice?

  • Paddy is non-shelled rice that farmers grow and sell in mandis and then after milling paddy rice is prepared.
  • According to the studies, around 3,600 litres to 4,125 litres of water is required to grow one kg rice depending upon the paddy variety.
  • Long duration varieties consume more water.
  • In Punjab, 32% area is under the long duration (around 158 days) paddy varieties, and the rest comes under paddy varieties that take 120 to 140 days to grow.
  • So, on an average 3,900 to 4,000 litres water is required to grow one kg rice in the state.

How much water is used in Punjab every year to grow rice?

  • In 2020-21, Centre procured 203 lakh tonnes of paddy from Punjab.
  • After milling, this procured paddy resulted in 135.98 lakh tonnes of rice.
  • Since studies put average water required to produce one kg rice at 4,000 litres, so in one year – based on last year’s estimate – Punjab needed 5,400 billion litres of water to produce 135 lakh tonnes rice.

How much water can DSR help save?

  • DSR technique can help save 15% to 20% water.
  • In some cases, water saving can reach 22% to 23%.
  • With DSR, 15-18 irrigation rounds are required against 25 to 27 irrigation rounds in traditional method.
  • Since area under rice in Punjab is almost stagnant, DSR can save 810 to 1,080 billion litres water every year if entire rice crop is brought under the technique.

Are there any other benefits of DSR tech?

  • DSR can solve labour shortage problem because as like the traditional method it does not require a paddy nursery and transplantation of 30 days old paddy nursery into the main puddled field.
  • With DSR, paddy seeds are sown directly with machine.
  • DSR offers avenues for ground water recharge as it prevent the development of hard crust just beneath the plough layer due to puddled transplanting.
  • It matures 7-10 days earlier than puddle transplanted crop, therefore giving more time for management of paddy straw.
  • Research trials indicated that yield, after DSR, are one to two quintals per acre higher than puddled transplanted rice.

Getting optimum results

  • Experts said that with DSR technique, which is called ‘tar-wattar DSR’ (good soil moisture), farmers must sow paddy only after pre-sowing (rauni) irrigation and not in dry fields.
  • Further, the field should be laser levelled.
  • They said that spraying of herbicide must be done simultaneously along with sowing, and the first irrigation, which is done at 21 days after sowing.

Limitations of the DSR

  • Suitability of soil is the most important factor as farmers must not sow it in the light-textured soil.
  • This technique is suitable for medium to heavy textured soils including sandy loam, loam, clay loam, and silt loam which accounts for around 80% area of the state.
  • It should not be cultivated in sandy and loamy sand as these soils suffer from severe iron deficiency, and there is higher weed problem in it.
  • Also, avoid direct seeding of rice in fields which are under crops others than rice (like cotton, maize, sugarcane) in previous years as DSR in these soils is likely to suffer more from iron deficiency and weed problems.


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Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.

Extension for PM Krishi Sinchai Yojana


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: PMKSY

Mains level: Not Much

The Cabinet has given its approval to extend its umbrella scheme Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana for irrigation, water supply, groundwater and watershed development projects for another five years till 2026.

PM Krishi Sinchai Yojana

  • The PMKSY was launched on 1st July, 2015 with the motto of “Har Khet Ko Paani”.
  • It is being implemented to expand cultivated area with assured irrigation, reduce wastage of water and improve water use efficiency.

The scheme has basically combined three active projects under various ministries which is as follows:

  1. Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Program (Ministry of Water Resources)
  2. Integrated Watershed Management Program (Ministry of Rural Development)
  3. Farm Water Management Project of the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture

Components of PMKSY

PMKSY seeks to provide a complete solution to farm level irrigation and assured irrigation for every farm

  • It aims to integrate irrigation with the latest technological practices and cover more cultivable areas under assured irrigation
  • Increase the implementation of water-saving technologies and precision irrigation which in other words can be said as More Crop Per Drop.
  • PMKSY also targets the promotion of micro-irrigation in the form of sprinklers, rain-guns, drips, etc.

Advantages of Micro Irrigation

  • Higher Profits
  • Water Saving & Water Use Efficiency (WUE)
  • Less Energy Costs
  • Higher fertilizer-use efficiency (FUE)
  • Reduced Labour Costs
  • Reduce Soli Loss
  • Marginal Solis & Water
  • Efficient & Flexible
  • Improved Crop Quality
  • Higher Yields

Implementation of PMKSY

  • Everything from planning and execution of plans is regionalized in PMKSY.
  • District Irrigation Plans (DIPs) will identify the areas that require improved facilities in irrigation at block levels and district levels.
  • State Irrigation Plan consolidates all the DIPs and it oversees the agricultural plans developed under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.

Funding pattern

  • Funds will be allocated by the centre only if the state has prepared the district irrigation plans and the state irrigation plans.
  • The state government’s share under PMKSY is 25% and rest is borne by the centre, with an exception for north-eastern states where contribution by the state government is 10%.


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Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.

Karez System of Irrigation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Karez/ Qanat

Mains level: Not Much

The Taliban are set to seize Kabul, but some expert believes they will spare the age-old Karez system of underground aqueducts in the country given its importance.

What is a Qanat / Karez?

  • This system of underground vertical shafts in a gently sloping tunnel that is built from an upland aquifer to ground level.
  • Some historians and archaeologists have attributed people in the southeast Arabian Peninsula as the first developers. Others, however, ascribe it to the ancient Persians.
  • The Qanat / Karez system, wherever it was developed, soon spread to many Persian, Arab and Turkic lands.
  • It even came to the Indian Subcontinent during the 800-year-old Islamic Period.

Karez in India

  • The system was brought in the Indian Subcontinent during the Bahamani Sultanate, founded by Alaudin Bahman Shah.
  • It later broke into five other Sultantates: Bijapur, Golconda, Ahmadnagar, Bidar and Berar.
  • The Bahamani Sultanate was Persianate in nature and encouraged many things Persian, among them, the Karez.
  • They was built in the city of Bidar during the reign of Bahamani Sultan Ahmad Shah Wali (1422-1436), who shifted the capital from Gulbarga to Bidar.
  • By the 15th century, Bijapur city had a network of pipelines. Everyone got 24×7 supply of water.
  • It also worked as confidence-building measure between the Sultan and his subjects since the Karez was built the state.

Try answering this PYQ:

With reference to the economic history of medieval India, the term Araghatta’ refers to:

(CSP 2016)

(a) bonded labour

(b) land grants made to military officers

(c) waterwheel used in the irrigation of land

(d) wastel and converted to cultivated land


Post your answers here.
Please leave a feedback on thisx

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Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.



From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Micro-Irrigation

Mains level: Advantages of micro-irrigation

India is facing the twin challenge of water scarcity and population explosion. The ongoing water crisis has affected nearly 600 million people and is expected to only worsen: The country’s population is touted to increase to 1.6 billion by 2050.

The agriculture sector is the largest consumer of water in India. It accounts for approximately 90 per cent of 761,000 billion litres of annual freshwater withdrawals in the country. Per capita consumption of water in agriculture sector ranges from 4,913 to 5,800 kilolitre per capita per year.

This is where micro-irrigation assumes significance.

What is Micro-irrigation?

  • Micro-irrigation is considered as a prudent Irrigation technology promoted nationally and Internationally to achieve higher cropping Intensity and irrigation Intensity through more focused application of water to crops.
  • Different types of systems are drip irrigation, sprinkler Irrigation, micro-sprinkler, porous pipe system, rain gun etc., where drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation dominate among all these systems.
  • The major crops cultivated under drip irrigation are sugarcane, banana, cotton, lemon, grapes, oranges, mangoes and wide variety of vegetables. Sprinkler irrigation is mainly used for groundnut, wheat, millet, sorghum, mustard etc.

Benefits of Micro Irrigation

  • Increase in water use efficiency: Micro irrigation helps in significant reduction of water conveyance losses, runoff, evaporation losses, and seepage & deep  percolation losses. This ensures higher water use efficiency up to 50-90%.
  • Energy Efficiency: Micro irrigation requires minimum pressure and low flow rate only. Hence, this ensures energy consumption saving up to 30.5%. Even small wells and tanks can also be used as a source of water. Since this system requires very low pressure, off-grid farmers can use solar pumps or diesel pumps.
  • Fertilizer Use Efficiency: Proper mixing of fertilizers and water, control of optimum dosage and direct application of fertilizers to the root zone result in the saving in fertilizer consumption up to 28.5%.
  • Productivity increase: The crop yield (quantity and quality) is increased and the enhancement of productivity is estimated for fruits I crops up to 42.4 % and for vegetables up to 52.7%. This ensures good economic return for the better yields.
  • Irrigation cost saving: This technology reduces the overall cost of irrigation due to decrease in labour requirement for irrigation, weeding and fertilizer application. Irrigation cost saving is up to
  • New crop introduction: Farmers can judiciously add more new crops due to improved water scenario and it was estimated that as many as 30.4% farmers have done it. Some of the farmers have tried intercropping and crop rotation also.
  • Increase in farmers’ income: The average income of all beneficiaries in all 13 districts was found to be increased up to
    42%. More focussed and judicious use of water and nutrients result in good quality produce and increase in farmers’ income. Moreover, the reduction in spacing between the plants can accommodate more number of plants
  • Fertigation: fertigation, which comprises combining water and fertiliser application through irrigation. Fertigation results in balanced nutrient application, reduced fertiliser requirement of around 7 to 42 per cent (thus, saving expenditure cost incurred by farmer), higher nutrient uptake and nutrient use efficiency.
  • Brings degraded land under cultivation:It is quite apparent that in the present scenario, vertical expansion of agricultural lands is not possible. Therefore, in order to increase the yield and productivity, we have to focus on degraded and waste lands.Micro-irrigation provides this opportunity. A national-level survey undertaken for the Union government showed that farmers were able to bring 519.43 hectares of degraded land under cultivation through the technique.

Government initiative

  • Government has initiated micro irrigation in the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-2007). Since then, keen initiatives are being taken by Central Government, State Governments, some NGOs and some business firms to promote and propagate this new technology.
  • Micro-irrigation has been given special importance in Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) with the aim of extending irrigation cover (‘Har Khet Ko Pani’) and improving water use efficiency (‘Per Drop More Crop’) to improve various water development and management activities.
  • Under the programme, financial assistance of up to 55 per cent is available for small and marginal farmers and 45 per cent for other farmers for adoption of micro-irrigation systems

Challenges being faced by micro irrigation programmes

  • Energy crisis due to power outages and unscheduled interruptions across rural and urban India: This problem may be solved by integrated drip irrigation with solar panel system which is considered as the best option for off-grid farmers. In one of the banana fields in Gujarat, it was estimated that the pressure requirement was only 1-1.5 kgIcm2 for in line dripper. A solar pump system in this field consists of 12 solar panels each of capacity 250 Watt, can operate a pump of 3 Horse Power (HP) capacity,
  • Expensive micro irrigation: Most of the adopters are wealthier farmers and poor farmers cannot afford it. This problem is resolved by inventing low cost systems by different agencies. International Development Enterprises (IDE), an NGO is actively working in Maharashtra and Gujarat innovate low cost micro irrigation systems and create awareness among poor farmers.


  • It is quite evident that importance of micro-irrigation to achieve sustainability in Indian agriculture cannot be neglected.
  • But it’s a long way ahead and requires extensive demonstrations, training and awareness programmes to bring Indian farming community abreast with micro-irrigation practices.
  • The farmers are one of the most distressed communities of our society.
  • We have to work with the community and show them the practical and achievable benefits of the technique.

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Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.

Buddah Nullah


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Buddah Nullah

Mains level: Canal irrigation system and its limitations

The Punjab govt. has approved ₹650 crore in the first phase for rejuvenation of the highly polluting Buddah Nullah — a seasonal tributary of Sutlej in Ludhiana.

Buddah Nullah

  • Buddah Nullah or Budha Nala is a seasonal water stream that runs through the Malwa region of Punjab.
  • It passes through highly populated Ludhiana and drains into Sutlej River, a tributary of the Indus river.
  • It has also become a major source of pollution in the region as well the main Sutlej river, as it gets polluted after entering the highly populated and industrialized Ludhiana city, turning it into an open drain.
  • Also, since a large area in south-western Punjab solely depend on the canal water for irrigation, and water from Buddha Nullah enters various canals after Harike waterworks.

Why such move?

  • The pollution in the Buddah Nullah is a major threat to public health and environment and the main sources of pollution in the nullah are direct flow of pollutants by industries and dairies.
  • Also, treated effluents from existing STPs, based on UASB technology, does not meet the required quality and overflow from sewer lines add to the problem.
  • The NGT has already directed the government to take proactive steps to immediately address the problem.

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Neeranchal National Watershed Project

As a part GS-3 – Irrigation systems, We need to focus on relevant projects/schemes launched in 2015-16. We will try to bring all such important projects/schemes. One such project is, “Neeranchal” for the Watershed Component of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana (PMKSY), Let’s see it in brief!

What is a watershed?

A watershed also known as drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain, melting snow or ice converges to a single point at a lower elevation, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake etc.


What is watershed management?

  • Watershed management is an adaptive, comprehensive, integrated multi-resource management planning process that seeks to balance healthy ecological, economic, and cultural/social conditions within a watershed.
  • Watershed management serves to integrate planning for land and water; it takes into account both ground and surface water flow, recognizing and planning for the interaction of water, plants, animals and human land use found within the physical boundaries of a watershed.

What are the objectives of Neeranchal?

  • The Neeranchal Project will support PMKSY to improve watershed management practices and demonstrate measurable results in selected sub-watersheds
  • It will introduce new hydrological approaches and innovative tools for community participation with a more integrated watershed planning process
  • Pilot new field practices that will improve conservation outcomes, water availability, agricultural yields and climate resilience, and scale up a more effective monitoring and evaluation system to track performance
  • The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development over a six-year period (2016-21)

Let’s first learn about Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)

  • PMKSY is a central scheme that aims at providing irrigation facilities to every village in the country by converging ongoing irrigation schemes
  • The vision of extending the coverage of irrigation ‘Har Khet Ko Paani’ and improving water use efficiency ‘More crop per drop’ in a focused manner
  • With end to end solution on source creation, distribution, management, field application and extension activities
  • A dynamic annual fund allocation methodology mandates states, to allot more funds to irrigation sectors for becoming eligible to access funds under this scheme, is being considered

The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana programme should concentrate on 2 important things –

  • First, it should quickly put to use 20–40 million ha of unutilised irrigation potential created in major, medium and minor irrigation projects
  • Second, it should provide better quality power rations to farmers during the time of peak irrigation demand.
  • Madhya Pradesh has done precisely this and multiplied the state’s irrigated area quickly, at small incremental cost, delivering double-digit agricultural growth

What about funding ?

  • The Government of India and the World Bank have signed a US$ 178.50 million credit for the Neeranchal National Watershed Project to improve watershed management in rural rainfed areas
  • The credit will support the watershed activities of the PMKSY in selected states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan
  • It will cover about 400 sub-watersheds of about 5,000 ha each and reach approximately 482,000 farmer households and two million people
  • The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5 year grace period

[IDA – International financial institution which offers concessional loans and grants to the world’s poorest developing countries. The IDA is a member of the World Bank Group]

Concerns that will be addressed by Neeranchal-

  • Bring about institutional changes in watershed and rainfed agricultural management practices in India
  • Build systems that ensure watershed programmes and rainfed irrigation management practices are better focused, and more coordinated, and have quantifiable results
  • Devise strategies for the sustainability of improved watershed. management practices in programme areas, even after the withdrawal of project support
  • Through the watershed plus approach, support improved equity, livelihoods, and incomes through forward linkages, on a platform of inclusiveness and local participation


 What are the benefits?

  • Lead to reducing surface runoff of rainwater
  • It will increase recharge of groundwater and better availability of water in rainfed areas
  • It resulting in incremental rainfed agriculture productivity, enhanced milk yield and increased cropping intensity through better convergence related programmes in project areas
  • It will strengthen and provide technical assistance to enhance delivery capacity
  • This is an area development programme and all people living in the project area will be benefitted

What are the challenges ahead?

  • Enhanced participation of communities, building stronger capacities and systems to plan, implement, monitor and post-project sustainability of local institutions and assets
  • These challenges, if not resolved, can result in implementation delays, slow disbursements and benefits

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Published with inputs from Arun
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