Ranchi, July 30: Jharkhand Department of Agriculture has completely rejected Jharkhand Water Resources Department’s claim on irrigation coverage in the state. While one department claims it’s 41%. 100, the other says it’s not more than 15%.
“The state has 29 lakh hectares of cultivable land and maximum irrigation coverage can be provided at 24 lakh hectares due to geographical conditions. And we have irrigated 10.05 lakh hectares or 41%,” said Moti Lal Pingua, Chief Engineer, Project Planning and Monitoring, Jharkhand Water Resources Department.
This appears to be a remarkable achievement for the state which, when it was established in 2000, had less than 10% irrigation coverage. Given the current rainfall deficit in the state, the 41% claim would have been a big comfort.
However, the National Department of Agriculture has a completely different view.
“Irrigation coverage in the state is in the range of 13 to 15 percent. While the irrigation department says 15% based on its dams and canals, the agriculture department counts it as 13% based on assured irrigation,” said Dr. Subhash Singh, Deputy Director , Agriculture, Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Co-operative.
Singh further stated that while the total cultivable land in the state is 29 lakh hectares, the actual cultivation only takes place on 24 lakh hectares (during kharif season) as Jharkhand is mainly dependent on rain. In Rabi, the area of cultivated land goes down to 12-13 lakh hectares.
“Before, the state had a fallow land development program where we used to help farmers to plant and provide them with seeds, but it could not be successful because the farmers wanted the reliance continues,” Singh said, alluding to the fact that the entire 29 lakh hectares of cropland can benefit from irrigation coverage.
Director of Research at Birsa Agricultural University, Dr. SK Pal, supports the Department of Agriculture’s view. He said, “The irrigation coverage in Jharkhand is 18% of the total cultivable land. However, in reality, it is between 12 and 15%. »
Pal said that although the Jharkhand government is making efforts to increase irrigation coverage, it has not done enough. He said there were other limitations as well.
“Jharkhand’s water resources are limited. Most of the rivers here are seasonal, and groundwater has dropped in many places. Also, investment in irrigation has been much lower in Jharkhand compared to states like Punjab and Haryana,” Pal said.
Talking about the obstacles faced by the water resources department in setting up the network of major and minor irrigation projects, Chief Engineer Pingua said that all lift irrigation systems in the state, operational during undivided Bihar, are currently extinct.
“We are trying to get them on the right track with the use of solar pumps. In the case of large irrigation projects, the main obstacles are deforestation and rehabilitation. So, instead of open channels, we are now focusing on laying underground distribution pipelines for which work has been awarded,” Pingua said.
Of the 10 lakh hectares of cultivable land with irrigation facility, minor irrigation accounts for seven lakh hectares and major irrigation takes care of three lakh hectares, the chief engineer said, adding that the Water Resources Department has a budget of Rs 1,400 crore for the financial year 2022 -23.