NEW DELHI: India has seen a decline of 9,000 surface flow minor irrigation schemes since 2006-2007, a government census has revealed. This has increased the dependence of the agricultural sector on groundwater.
The schemes, which are responsible for irrigating around 4.89 million hectares, are situated in states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Karnataka.
“The number of surface flow minor irrigation schemes has declined from 6,01,000 in 2006-07 to 5,92,000 in 2013-14,” the census said.
According to the study, tanks constitute the largest share of water from surface flow irrigation schemes (41 per cent), while 10 per cent of the schemes are comprised of reservoirs and 10 per cent form nalas.
As part of a surface flow minor irrigation scheme, rainwater is utilised for irrigation either by storing it or diverting it from other water sources like rivers. The diversions are constructed either as permanent or temporary. Temporary diversions are washed away during the monsoon.
The census suggests that measures must be taken to restore the schemes to increase the benefits derived from them and also to prevent the water table from getting depleted further.
The study also throws light on the ownership of surface flow schemes. Around 54 per cent of the schemes are owned by public, while the remainder, 46 per cent, is privately owned. Three-fourths of the publicly owned schemes are government-owned and 17 per cent are owned by local governing agencies.