‘Drip irrigation to double Narmada command area’
GANDHINAGAR: Even as the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam project nears completion and the envisaged command area of around 18.45 lakh hectares is slated to be ready by end of 2019, the Gujarat government has set an ambitious target of doubling the project’s command area by using drip irrigation after the method was successful in both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
The change in command area of the project is being envisaged almost 40 years after the 1979 NWDT order, with the state government now banking on Israeli technology for digital drip irrigation to double the irrigation potential of Sardar Sarovar.
With Rajasthan having successfully doubled its Narmada command area against its actual target by using drip irrigation, the Gujarat state agriculture & cooperation and other departments are fervently working upon a new model of drip irrigation with financial incentives to make it successful.
The government thinks the use of Israeli technology will not only substantially increase the distribution of water, but it will also prevent damage to land while saving considerable amounts of water for drinking and other purposes.
Sardar Sarvoar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) claimed that out of 18.45 lakh hectares, irrigation potential has been developed on 16 lakh hectares so far.
Sanjay Prasad, additional chief secretary (ACS), agriculture & co-operation said, “Following the Israeli model the state government is planning on extensive use of digital drip irrigation. It has multiple benefits including saving crops from flooding caused by over-irrigation, stopping soil damage, and increasing water availability for a larger area and for a longer period.”
Prasad said, “The state government is planning to make the whole Narmada command area drip-irrigation based. It has been used in both Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to successfully double Narmada command areas.”
Speaking about the government’s views, Prasad said, “If drip irrigation is made mandatory, the irrigation potential will increase dramatically and the command area may increase by up to 100%.”
“Agriculture productivity will also increase significantly and input costs of farmers will reduce as wastage of fertilizers, pesticides etc., will reduce,” Prasad said. “In areas like Surendranagar, Patan and Kutch, the soil is very shallow and water drains off shortly after watering. If the drip method is used it will save land from damage and serve irrigation needs with much less water,” he added.
Giving an example of unmanaged irrigation, Prasad said, “Over-irrigation for over 50 years damaged agriculture in Punjab in many ways. In Gujarat, this may happen faster if we do not use drip irrigation.”
Speaking about adoption of drip irrigation, Prasaid said, “There are agriculture schemes under which we give subsidy of up to 70% to 85% to the farmers. We need to restructure these to make drip irrigation widely acceptable to farmers. The government also plans to adopt drip irrigation in the command areas of other dams to expand our irrigation potential and double the income of farmers by 2022.”