Half a million and counting: Minor irrigation water bodies in India

    CountriesIndiaHalf a million and counting: Minor irrigation water bodies...
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    Half a million and counting: Minor irrigation water bodies in India

    The minister for jal shakti provided a list of tanks, reservoirs or ponds counted as part of an ongoing census from various states.

    India has over half-a-million water bodies that provide minor irrigation, the minister of state for jal shakti, Bishweswar Tudu informed the Rajya Sabha today.

    According to the minister, the department of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation of the ministry of jal shakti has been conducting a census of minor irrigation structures every five years since 1986-87.

    Though the minor irrigation census does not count the number of water bodies in the country directly, data on water bodies is indirectly compiled from the census. The number of water bodies in villages used for minor irrigation derived from fifth minor irrigation census (with 2013-14 as the reference year) was 5,16,303.

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    Maharashtra led the list of states with the maximum (1,14,988) number of such water bodies. The state of Jharkhand with 48,144 minor irrigation installations came next and was followed by Andhra Pradesh that has 41,209 such water bodies providing minor irrigation.

    The census did not find any such minor irrigation water bodies in the states of Delhi and Sikkim and in Chandigarh.

    The census of water bodies, according to the minister’s reply, covered all natural or artificial units with some or no masonry work in rural parts of the country that have been used for storing water for minor irrigation – known variously as tanks, reservoirs or ponds – or water bodies functioning as surface flow schemes.

    The minister informed that the department has launched the first census of water bodies in convergence with the sixth round of minor irrigation census (with 2017-18 as the reference year) under the centrally sponsored scheme “irrigation census”.

    Encroachments happening

    “The objective of the census of water bodies is to develop a national database for all water bodies by collecting information on all important aspects of the subject including their size, condition, status of encroachments, use, storage capacity etc.,” the minister said in a written reply.

    Presently, the field work and data processing activities of the first census of water bodies is nearing completion in various states and urban territories the minister said.

    As per currently available data of first census of water bodies, Andhra Pradesh leads the list of states where encroachments on water bodies have been reported. 3,920 water bodies were encroached upon in the state. Punjab follows with 1,578 encroachments on minor irrigation water bodies. The minister has listed 14 states reporting from where encroachments over water bodies have been reported. Arunachal reported just one encroachment and the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and Chandigarh reported no encroachments.

    The minister said in the Rajya Sabha that work related to enumeration of water bodies, their protection from encroachment or their diversion for use for other purposes comes under the purview of the state governments.

    His ministry, he said, has been sensitising state governments regarding the importance of water bodies for socio economic development and sustainable water security to the local population. Need for taking necessary steps for keeping all the water bodies encroachment free, such as inclusion of water bodies in land records and making them integral part of town planning process, removal of encroachments is also being emphasised to the state governments from time to time, the minister said.


    Image: Development Alternatives

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