Even as the State Government claims to have increased the irrigation potential of 164 blocks to 35 per cent of the arable land by end of January, its promise to create similar potential in the remaining blocks during the 12th Plan period appears remote.
The ambitious programme to provide irrigation facilities to 35 per cent of the cultivable land in each block by the end of the 11th Plan (2011-12) was announced in 2005-06. However, it could be achieved in 116 out of 314 blocks by the end of 2011-12.
The latest report of the Water Resources Department claimed that 48 out of 198 deficit blocks achieved 35 per cent irrigation coverage by the end of January, 2013.
The Assembly Standing Committee, which scrutinised the budget of the Water Resources Department, has recommended to the Government to take necessary measures to achieve the target in the remaining blocks by the end of the current Plan period (2016-17).
Expressing concern over inordinate delay in completion of irrigation projects, the committee emphasised on completion of the projects within a revised time schedule.At present, nine major, 12 medium and seven creek irrigation projects are underway. On completion of these projects, additional irrigation potential for over 6.72 lakh hectare will be created.
Of 61.65 lakh hectare cultivable land in the State, 30.89 lakh hectare is covered by irrigation. Despite huge water resources and substantial allocation of funds every year for creation of additional irrigation potential, the State has failed to achieve its target due to lack of proper planning and timely completion of the projects, official sources said.
Although major and medium irrigation will provide irrigation to 40 lakh hectare in the ultimate stage, only 13.62 lakh hectare of cultivable land had been brought under irrigation by the end of March, 2012.
Since there is public resistance to large and mega irrigation projects, the Committee recommended formulation of a new water policy in the light of the National Water Policy.
In view of the vagaries of monsoon coupled with natural calamities which are visiting the State regularly, the necessity for providing assured water supply to the cultivable area for increasing agricultural production assumes significance.