The Centre has decided to specially train officers in the three junior-most batches of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Forest Service (IFS) in preparation and execution of district irrigation plans. The training is to start from Monday.
Officials in the know said the proposal was discussed at a high-level meeting on the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi some time ago and has the full backing of PMO.
The junior officers will be assigned a district of their choice, where they will have to spend at least one month, interact with all stakeholders and prepare a district irrigation plan, which could be used at a primary source at a later stage.
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The draft plans so prepared will then be integrated at a common platform to see and understand whether the process adopted for preparing these plans is correct.
The Central government has also instructed the states to associate its civil services and forest services officers with this training.
The first batch of training is expected to start around August 24 at the National Water Academy in Pune. This will be for the junior officers from the western region comprising Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa.
Thereafter, junior officers posted in other states will also undergo this training. “The basic idea that junior officers should be well-versed with the preparation of a district irrigation plan which is vital component in the success of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Yojana,” a senior officer said.
He said an ideal district irrigation plan should map all the available water resources in the area, the quantum of rainfall it receives, the kind of crop grown and their water requirement, number of tube well, distance between the nearest big water resources and nearest field and all other details, which is considered relevant for ensuring all-weather irrigation to the area.
“In reality, such kind of approach has perhaps never been tried in India, so preparing a district irrigation plan seems to be a good idea, as water resources are mostly local, while the main source of irrigation which is ground water, is also highly localised. But, involvement of the local community is very essential in preparation of district irrigation and not just training of IAS and IFS officers,” Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), an informal network of organisations and individuals working on issues related with the water sector told Business Standard.
He said the irrigation plans should not be restricted to the districts alone, but should instead go deep down right up to the village and block levels.
The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchaee Yojana, launched last month with an allocation of Rs 50,000 crore spread over a period of five years, seeks to amalgamate three major ongoing irrigation programmes —the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme of the ministry of water resources, the Integrated Watershed Management Programme of the Ministry of Rural Development and the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture of the Department of Agriculture.
The scheme would be implemented in a project mode, which means that the district administration draws up their own irrigation plan with the help of district forest officers, bank officers and other departments. The state irrigation plan will be an amalgamation of all the district plans.
In Budget 2015-16, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 5,300 crore for the same. Out of this, Rs 1,500 crore would be spent by the rural development ministry to develop rainwater structures, small check dams and contour buildings under the watershed management programme, Rs 2,000 crore by the water resources ministry for ongoing projects under the accelerated irrigation benefit programme and also for construction of field canals and another Rs 1,800 crore will be spent by the agriculture department developing water harvesting structures, etc.
According to official data, till 2011-12, around 46.34 per cent of India’s net sown area of around 140.80 million hectares was under irrigation.
PMKSY funds would be given to states, as 75 per cent grant by the central government and the remaining 25 per cent share is to be borne by the state government. For the north-eastern region and hilly states, the funding pattern would be 90:10.