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MANAGEMENT OF CANAL IRRIGATION IN INDIA

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NEED FOR CANAL IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT
Because of the limited availability of utilisable water (see Tables 1.4 and 1.5) and the growing
need of water for irrigation and other purposes (see Table 1.6), the need for managing the
water resources can hardly be overemphasized. Irrigation management assumes special
importance in view of the fact that irrigation alone needs about 75 per cent of the total water
requirement (see Table 1.6). The objective of irrigation management is to supply and apply the
right amount of water at the right place and at the right time. It was estimated that irrigation
projects were running at an annual loss of about Rs. 400 crores in the early 1980’s.



INADEQUACIES OF CANAL IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT
From the point of view of performance, the management of the canal irrigation systems in
India is far from satisfactory. The major inadequacies are as follows (1, 8 and 9):
(i) Insufficient planning and preparation at the stage of execution of the project which
results in longer construction time and escalated project cost,
(ii) Involvement of more than one ministry/department and poor coordination among
them,



OBJECTIVES AND CRITERIA OF GOOD CANAL IRRIGATION
MANAGEMENT

There are several conventional measures to improve the performance of canal irrigation systems.
Some of these measures are lining of canals and field channels, on-farm development, farmers’
organisation, warabandi system of water distribution, charging farmers volumetrically for
water, and educating farmers in water use management. However, before seeking a solution
to improve the irrigation management, it is worthwhile to consider the objectives of irrigation
and the criteria for judging the performance of an irrigation project.



METHODS FOR IMPROVING CANAL IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT
Irrigation management is an interdisciplinary system process with a built-in learning
mechanism to improve system performance by adjusting physical, technological, and
institutional inputs to achieve the desired levels of output (14). Canal irrigation is a complex
process involving physical, bio-economic, and human activities which are interrelated and
vary widely over space and time. As such, canal irrigation management demands special
methods. Every management problem requires to be analysed in detail and then solved
accordingly. Nevertheless, there are some aspects which, if considered properly at different
stages, can help significantly in the improvement of canal irrigation. These aspects have been
briefly dealt with in the following.



Irrigation is the artificial exploitation and distribution of water at the project level with the objective of applying the water at the field level to agricultural crops in dry areas or in periods of low rainfall to ensure or improve crop production. This article deals with the organizational forms and means of managing irrigation water at the project level.

Scholars such as Julian H. Steward and Karl August Wittfogel have seen irrigation management as a crucial factor in the development of many early states (hydraulic empires).