Niti Aayog’s Joint Working Group report: Setting targets for Uttar Pradesh to transform irrigation infra

Beginning Ken-Betwa river-linking project in 2017-18 and completing it in 6-7 years, wrapping up Bansagar Dam project by March 2018, and bridging gap between irrigation potential created and utilised are some of the targets set by the joint working group

Written by Deepak Patel | New Delhi | Published: July 12, 2017 1:24:45 am
NITI Aayog, Uttar Pradesh, Infrastructure Niti Ayog building in New Delhi

Commencement of the Ken-Betwa inter-linking of rivers project in 2017-18 and its completion within 6-7 years; completion of Bansagar Project and coverage of 10 lakh hectare area in the state under micro-irrigation by March 2018; completion of Arjun Sahayak project, Madhya Ganga Phase 2 project and Saryu Nahar Project under Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) by December 2019 — these are some of the targets set by the NITI Aayog’s joint working group (JWG) for Uttar Pradesh’s irrigation and water resources sector in the ‘Action Plan for Uttar Pradesh’.

The JWG was formed after NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya-led 17-member delegation held day-long deliberations on the way forward for Uttar Pradesh with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other top state officials in Lucknow on May 10. The JWG was set up with six members — three members each from NITI Aayog and the state government. “The JWG will prepare a road map and identify action points for the development of UP within the next 15 days. Respective departments of the state government will then implement these action points,” the NITI Aayog stated on May 10.

The Indian Express has reviewed the ‘Action Plan for Uttar Pradesh’. It has set up various targets in several sectors. One of the important sectors the JWG dealt with was irrigation and water resources, wherein a significant action point for the state government is Ken-Betwa inter-linking of rivers project. For this project, the JWG’s action plan stated: “The National Water Development Agency (NWDA) to pursue necessary clearances. All efforts to be made to obtain these clearances by December 2017. Milestones to be firmed up after obtaining forest, wildlife and environment clearance.”

The National Board For Wildlife (NBWL), the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) and the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) — all three under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change — have already cleared the Ken-Betwa river linking project. However, the NBWL and the EAC have put various strict conditions for this project, which is likely to delay the grant of final green clearances by the Union environment ministry.

The Ken-Betwa linking project envisages diversion of surplus waters of Ken basin to water-deficit Betwa basin. The quantity of water proposed to be diverted from Ken basin, after considering basin demands and downstream commitments earmarked for providing irrigation in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, is 1,020 million cubic meters, according to the NWDA. The JWG’s action plan has stated that this linking project should commence in 2017-18 only and it must be completed in 6-7 years.

The action plan has also set three ‘monitorable indicators’ to measure Ken-Betwa project’s success: Irrigation coverage area due to this project should be more than 6.36 lakh hectare (3.70 lakh hectare in Madhya Pradesh and 2.66 lakh hectare in

Mahoba, Banda and Jhansi districts of Uttar Pradesh); there should be drinking water available for 13.42 lakh population that lies in the “en route area” of the project; there should be a power generation of 78 MW from this project.

The JWG’s action plan has also set the target of March 2018 for completion of Bansagar Project — a joint venture of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The Bansagar Dam is being constructed by the Madhya Pradesh government on Sone river in Shahdol district. To supply water from Bansagar reservoir to Uttar Pradesh, following constructions have been proposed: Bansagar Feeder Canal, Adwa-Meja Link Channel, Meja-Jirgo Link Channel, Jirgo Feeder, Garai System and Adwa Barrage. This project will provide additional irrigation potential of 74,523 hectare in Allahabad and 75,309 hectare in Mirzapur, according to the irrigation department of Uttar Pradesh.

The action plan states that Arjun Sahayak project, Madhya Ganga Phase 2 project and Saryu Nahar Project under the AIBP should be completed by December 2019. The plan added that “milestones” need to be formed by the UP government to complete these three projects “in consultation with the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation by September, 2017”. According to the  irrigation department of UP, the Saryu Nahar project will provide irrigation to 12 lakh hectare area of Baharaich, Shravasti, Gonda, Balrampur, Basti, Siddharthnagar, Sant Kabir Nagar and Gorakhpur through 8,240-km long distribution system.

The other two projects are similar irrigation projects. Under the ‘Per Drop, More Crop’ (micro-irrigation) component of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), at least 10 lakh hectare must be covered annually, according to the JWG’s action plan.  It also noted that the UP government should adopt a cluster approach and encourage the use of solar energy in micro-irrigation. The Central government has approved a total outlay of Rs 2,500 crore in 2017-18 for ‘Per Drop More Crop’ component of the PMKSY. However, UP has been allocated just Rs 50 crore as compared to Andhra Pradesh that has been allocated Rs 425 crore in this component.

For watershed development, which is an important component of the PMKSY, the JWG’s action plan has asked the state government to prepare a separate “action plan to complete all 612 sanctioned projects”. According to the JWG, these 612 watershed development projects should be completed by March 2020. Watershed development consists of ridge area treatment, drainage line treatment, soil and moisture conservation, rainwater harvesting and other watershed interventions.

The report has also stated that UP should bridge the gap between the irrigation potential created (IPC) and the irrigation potential utilised (IPU) in the “next one to two years”. According to the JWG, current IPC and IPU of Uttar Pradesh is 33.59 million hectares and 20.41 hectares, respectively. Therefore, the difference between both is 13.18 million hectares. The JWG action plan has stated that this gap should be reduced to 10.68 million hectares and 8.18 hectares by March 2018 and March 2019, respectively. The balance area of 8.18 hectares should be utilised by March 2020, according to JWG.

The action plan has also stated that all the UP projects where the gap between IPC and IPU exists, should be identified by September 2017. Moreover, the plan has mentioned that detailed project reports need to be prepared for certain projects by March 2018.

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