Problems and challenges associated with Irrigation

  • 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.
  • Delays in completion of projects: The biggest problem in our major and medium irrigation sectors right from the First Five year plan has been the tendency to start more and more new projects resulting in want on prolification of projects. There is also delay in utilisation of potentials already present. In most of the projects, there have been delay in construction of field channels and water courses, land levelling and land shaping.
  • Inter-state Water disputes: Irrigation is a state subject in India. Development of water resource is, therefore, being planned by states individually taking into account their own needs and requirement. However, all major rivers are inter-state in character. As a result, difference with regard to storage, priorities and use of water arise between different states. Narrow regional out look brings inter-state rivalries over distribution of water supply.
  • Regional disparities in irrigation development: The Ninth Five Year Plan Document estimated that the water resource development in North Eastern region through major, medium and minor schemes is only at the level of 28.6 per cent whereas in the Northern region it has reached about 95.3 per cent. This indicates a wide regional variation in the development of irrigation facilities.
  • Water-logging and salinity: Introduction of irrigation has led to the problem of water logging and salinity in some of the states. The working group constituted by the Ministry of Water Resources in 1991 estimated that about 2.46 million hectares in irrigated commands suffered from water logging. The working group also estimated that 3.30 million hectares had been affected by salinity/alkalinity in the irrigated commands.
  • Increasing cost of irrigation: The cost of providing irrigation have been increasing over the years from the first five year plant to tenth five year plan.
  • Decline in water table: There has been a steady decline in water table in the recent period in several parts of the country, especially in the western dry region, on account over exploitation of ground water and insufficient recharge from rain-water.
  • 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