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Irrigation could be chargeable now

Water is the only thing which nature provides not only to the farmers but also to the whole world in an equal manner, but it's the authority and the officials behind the resources, who regulate and monitor the consumption and distribution of water supply to control the overuse of it.

Country is lacking water resources day by day but the need of water for farming will always be there, so the farmers who are getting free water for irrigation could be charged very soon and they may be asked to pay a reasonable price, however the production cost will be increased, as it is required to bring equitable use and conservation of natural resources. 

According to the sources Ashok Dalwai, Chairman of the committee on doubling farmers' income, in an interview said water is often being misused due to its free availability. So irrigation water should be supplied by installing the meter and charged at a reasonable price to maintain its use. Farmers at the end of the command area always complain about not receiving water for irrigation because others alreadydraw a huge amount of water for their field.

It is suggested that states can subsidies it through direct benefit transfer (DBT) or may charge after a farmer exceeds his limit of using free water. This will discipline water use while helping farmers with water rate concession. Separation of power feeders for domestic consumption and agricultural use and its timely but controlled supply for irrigation could help to regulate groundwater use.

Ashok Gulati, former Chairman of the Commission for Agriculture Cost & Prices (CACP), stated that "issue is more important for power pricing for irrigation (groundwater), which needs to be metered. Farmers can be compensated with direct income support on per hectare basis.''

In the report after the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojna (PMKSY), with the motto of 'har khet ko paani' (water for every cultivable land) which was launched in July 2015, there is urgent need to cover the existing gap between irrigation potential measured and the irrigation potential utilized. It is considered to bring efficiency in irrigation management to reduce the waste of water due to poor maintenance of distribution system.  

There are some parts where people are dependent on rainwater for farming. In those areas water conservation, in association with soil conservation practices, should become the core of development package. The limited water available in harvesting structures such as ponds and tanks can be used most effectively during the critical period through drip and sprinkler systems.

However, the volumetric assessment for the individual farmers would be expensive and impracticable as well. The movement for full-fledged volumetric pricing cannot be introduced immediately. It will have to be accomplished in an organized and phased manner. It is expected that the suggestion on equitable distribution of water may be accepted.

If the charge on irrigation water will be applied to the farmers, it will somehow bring the control over the overuse of irrigation water but without getting the subsidy on paid water supply individual farmers will surely get affected.   

Mahendra Kurre

Krishi Jagran/New Delhi



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