As the situation in Haryana’s 85 blocks in 19 districts has been critical with low availability of canal water and an increasing dependency on groundwater, especially for sugarcane cultivation on over 2.5 lakh acres, the BJP-led government has initiated climate-smart agriculture practices in 1,669 villages in 36 blocks.
It is now bearing fruit in just a year, and the results are encouraging with the government saying micro-irrigation has increased the yield of fruits and vegetables by 52 per cent.
As per official data, under the Atal Bhujal Yojna programme the government has provided an assistance of Rs 179.39 crore to 19,517 beneficiaries for opting drip, mini-sprinkler and portable-sprinkler systems on 58,000 acres, where water depth has gone down to 100 feet and installing micro-irrigation system is mandatory.
A subsidy of Rs 450 crore is being provided in this fiscal for installing micro-irrigation on one lakh acre under the Micro Irrigation and Command Area Development Authority (MICADA), which was allocated the work in December 2020 to rehabilitate watercourses. Earlier, the Department of Irrigation and Water Resources was doing this job.
With many water sources becoming more polluted, and ecosystems that provide water are disappearing, the government provides an option to utilize the treated wastewater for micro-irrigation.
At least 22 works costing about Rs 500 crore are in progress and likely to be completed before June 2024, an official spokesperson told IANS on Sunday.
At present, 170 sewage treatment plants and common effluent treatment plants have been installed in the state, which generate 1,985 million litres per day (MLD) wastewater. As on date, 187 MLD treated water is being used for non-drinking purposes.
Painting the startling facts, the Haryana Water Resources Authority (HWRA) says 3,041 out of the 7,287 villages face groundwater stress. Of these, 1,948 are severely stressed.
Government estimates with sugarcane cultivated over 2.5 lakh acres, one kg of sugar production requires 2,000 litres of water. The total freshwater required for cultivation of sugarcane through flood irrigation can be up to 1.78 crore lakh litres per crop cycle.
The water requirement can be optimized using micro-irrigation systems instead of conventional flood irrigation and studies show the sugar recovery rate can potentially increase by up to one per cent in micro-irrigation based crops.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, in his Budget speech for 2023-24 last week, proposed to cover two lakh acres in three years under the sugarcane cultivation with micro-irrigation systems.
To utilize treated wastewater through micro irrigation, 1,000 recharge borewells and rooftop rainwater harvesting structures have been constructed and 2,000 more such structures have been targeted to be completed in the next fiscal.
Also to improve the irrigation efficiency, damaged watercourses having age over 20 years are being rehabilitated on priority and the length of these water courses is being increased, the spokesperson told IANS.
An investment of Rs 1,500 crore being made for increasing the capacity of entire Western Jamuna Canal (WJC) system and after its implementation the state will get additional 4,000 cusec water during monsoon, said Governor Bandaru Dattatreya in his address to the House on the first day of the Assembly’s budget session.
According to him, Haryana has invested more than Rs 2,500 crore in strengthening the canal network by rehabilitating or renovating around 500 channels.
This Budget proposes to allocate Rs 6,598 crore to irrigation and water resources for 2023-24, an increase of 29.2 per cent over the revised estimates of the current year.
To meet the irrigation requirements and to reduce input cost, the government is implementing a scheme for installation of solar pumps of three to 10 HP capacity with 75 per cent subsidy, including 30 per cent central financial assistance under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Surksha Evam Utthan Mahabhiyaan (PM-KUSUM).
Considering the popularity of the scheme, the Chief Minister, who holds the Finance portfolio, in his Budget speech proposes to fix a target for the installation of 70,000 solar pump sets in 2023-24 against 23,966 solar pump sets in 2022-23 which are under installation.
Under MICADA, the authority given the responsibility for promoting and developing water conservation infrastructure, 85 per cent subsidy under Per Drop More Crop (PDMC) component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana is being provided.
One lakh acre culturable command area, meaning the area that can be irrigated from a scheme, has been brought under micro irrigation and about 2000 on-farm water tanks were constructed in 2022-23.
“In 2023-24, I propose to bring 2.5 lakh acre culturable command area and to construct 4,000 on-farm water tanks,” says the Budget speech.
The United Nations estimates that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in water-stressed countries.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])
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