R. V. Rama Mohan of Centre for World Solidarity (CWS) writes about the need for policy makers to focus their attention towards the traditional practice of sharing water resources by groups of small farmers.
Sharing water for irrigation from wells jointly built and owned by groups of small farmers is a widely existing traditional practice in India. As per the fourth Minor Irrigation Census (MIC) done by Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, there are 20,13,582 group wells in India during 2006-2007. Undivided Andhra Pradesh occupied sixth position with 44,728 group wells. Sustainable Ground Water Management (SuGWM) project enumerated a total of 571 existing group-owned wells in six of it’s project Gram Panchayats in undivided Andhra Pradesh. In contrast, fourth MIC reported absence of any group well in the blocks where project villages are located. This highlights the need for the MICs to be reformed for better accuracy. A sample study during 2011-2014, on 20 group wells with 50 farmers, revealed that average Rabi crop area under irrigation per farmer increased dramatically by as much as 129% when these farmers were given sprinkler irrigation kits. Group well farmers not only used water more efficiently but also shared water more equitably after using sprinkler irrigation kits. Therefore, there is dire need to recognize the merits of group water sharing practice and offer additional incentives to those farmers in the micro irrigation schemes.
This article has been published in the Annual Technical Volume of Civil Engineering Division Board, Institution of Engineers India for the year 2015-16.