Water Resources

The World Water Development Report (WWDR), 2016 details the vital role of water resources in all sectors of the economy and ecology. Water resources are essential in achieving sustainable development and reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Water productivity in India is very low. In order to promote judicious use of water ensuring "per drop more crop" of water in agriculture, GOI launched Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana (PMKSY) aiming at providing water to every fields of agriculture.

As per the national level statistics, the total cropped area was 1,983.60 lakh ha in 2014-15 and the total irrigated area was 964.57 lakh ha. In the same period, the net area sown was 1,401.30 lakh ha and the net irrigated area was 683.83 lakh ha. In Kerala, the gross irrigated area during the period was 4.69 lakh ha.

Kerala is well endowed with water resources. However, in spite of the copious supply of rainfall, water scarcity problems (in terms of the quantity and quality of water) are still prevalent in different parts of the State. Rainwater, once reaching the surface of the earth, flows either as surface run-off or helps recharge ground water. There is a substantial gap between the Irrigation Potential Created (IPC) and Irrigation Potential Utilised (IPU). The decline in the ratio between IPC and IPU was mainly due to lack of proper operation and maintenance, non-completion of command area development, and incomplete distribution system, etc. There is a need to arrest the declining trend. Water resource management is therefore an interventionist approach. Demand management is an important part of the Integrated Water Resource Management, which helps to use this finite resource effectively.

Live-Storage Capacities of Irrigation Reservoirs

There are 54 dams in the State. Out of this, 14 dams and 6 barrages are maintained by the Irrigation Department. The live storage of all irrigation reservoirs in the State is estimated as 1,431 Mm3. The live storage position of the reservoirs at the beginning and end of the monsoon during the period 2015 to 2017 is shown in Appendix 2.76. During 2017, at the beginning of monsoon, the total storage was 266.24 Mm3 and at the end of the monsoon, the level was raised to 523.23 Mm3, as against the previous year levels of 488.35 Mm3 and 690 Mm3 respectively. The storage position of reservoirs post monsoon during the past three years shows a fluctuating trend, it declined from 373.32 Mm3 in 2015 to 201.65 Mm3 in 2016, and in 2017 it increased to 256.99 Mm3 (Figure 2.20).

Figure 2.20
Live storage Position in the Reservoirs (2015-2017)
Source: Water Resources Department, GOK.

Major and Medium Irrigation Projects

At present, there are 23 major and medium irrigation projects in the State. This include 19 completed irrigation projects and 4 ongoing projects viz – Muvattupuzha, Idamalayar, Karapuzha and Banasurasagar. These four projects that commenced in 1970s and 1980s, are still continuing with time and cost over runs. The unprecedented delay in implementation is the result of various factors including Administrative as well as Technical reasons. Status of these irrigation projects are given in Appendix 2.77.

Muvattupuzha Valley Irrigation Project (MVIP)

The Muvattupuzha Valley Irrigation Project, one of the major projects in Kerala envisages the utilisation of the tailrace discharge from the Moolamattom Power House of the Idukki Hydro-Electric Project and the dependable runoff from the catchments of Thodupuzha River. MVIP was started in 1974 with an estimated cost of 20.86 crore and was approved by the Planning Commission in June 1983 at an estimated cost of 48.08 crore. The project was partially commissioned in 1994. Since then, water distribution is being carried out in the completed stretches of canals. Out of the 35,619 ha potential envisaged through the project, 32,608 ha had been created till date. However, some intervening missing links could not be completed till date. The estimated cost of the project based on 2015 DSR is 945.00 crore and the expenditure incurred as on March 2017 is 918.32 crore.

Idamalayar Irrigation Project

Idamalayar Irrigation Project is a diversion scheme for diverting water of Periyar river for irrigating 14,394 ha. of cultivable lands in Periyar and Chalakudy basins. The work commenced in 1981 at an estimated cost of 17.85 crore. The estimate further revised to 750.00 crore as per 2012 SOR. Main components of the project are- (1) A head regulator across the main canal at its starting point. (2) Canal system consisting of – Main canal (32.278 km), Low level canal (27.25 km), link canal (7.575 km).

Main Canal for a full length of 32.278 km had been completed. Works of Low Level Canal completed up to 15th km except at MC road crossing and Railway crossing. Link Canal works completed up to 2.00 km. Water distribution made possible through Main Canal (32.278 km) and Low Level Canal upto 7.3 km during 2013,2014,2015,2016 and 2017 for the period from January to June, thereby benefitting the agricultural and drinking water need of Malayattoor-Neeleswaram, Ayyampuzha, Manjapra and Thuravoor Panchayats of Ernakulam. The total ayacut achieved (net) is 2998 ha. and the cumulative expenditure as on March 2017 is 433 crore.

Karapuzha Irrigation Project

Karapuzha Irrigation Project is the first medium irrigation project in the Kabini Sub Basin of Cauvery River. Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal has awarded 2.80 TMC of Cauvery water to Karapuzha. Karapuzha Irrigation Project is one of the 99 prioritised project under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP). This Project consists of an earthen dam with concrete spillway across Karapuzha River at Vazhzvatta in VythiriTaluk of Wayanad District for providing irrigation to a net ayacut of 5,221 ha (Cultivable Command Area) in Vythiri, Sulthanbathery and Mananthavady taluks of Wayanad District. Reservoir has a gross storage capacity of 76.50 MCM with live storage capacity of 72.00 MCM.

This project was approved by Planning Commission in 1978 and administrative sanction was issued for 7.60 crore envisaging irrigation to cultivable command area of 5,600 ha with ultimate irrigation potential of 8,721 ha. Karapuzha Irrigation Project was partially commissioned on 20th June 2010. The present cost of the project is 560 crore (as per DSR 2014). As on March 2017, the cumulative expenditure incurred is 318.08 crore. The total CCA created is 601 ha and the corresponding irrigation potential is 938 ha.

Banasura Sagar Irrigation Project

Banasura Sagar Irrigation Project is the second irrigation project in Wayanad District. This project is in the Karamanthodu basin which is a tributary of Panamaram river. The project commenced in 1979 with an estimated cost of 8.00 crore to irrigate an area of 2,800 ha (net) agriculture land for the second and third crops in two taluks of Wayanad district.

The main canal is 2.73 km long and there are two branch canals – Padinjarathara branch canal having a length 9.030 km and Venniyode branch canal with a length of 5.390 km. Of the total main canal, 2,360 m canal works were completed. Works of both branch canals – Padinjarathara and Venniyode are in progress. The revised estimate of the project is 390 crore and the total expenditure as on March 31, 2017 is 54.01 crore.

Box 2.3
Technical Committee for Evaluating the Ongoing Irrigation Projects

A five member Technical Committee for evaluating the ongoing Major and Medium Irrigation Projects in the State was constituted under the chairmanship of Dr. R. Ramakumar, Member, Kerala State Planning Board.

The task assigned to the committee was :

  • Assess the status of implementation of these projects
  • Evaluate the achievement by technical appraisal/field visits
  • Examine the possibility of completing/closing these projects by making the best use of the amount invested.
  • Design a road map for the further implementation of these projects

Methodology Adopted

  • Conducted physical verification of the project sites during July and August 2017and identified the major bottlenecks/hindrances
  • Organised desk reviews, field-level meetings with people’s representatives, representatives of Padasekhara Samithies, farmers etc.
  • Discussion with KSREC/LUB on the satellite imagery of the command area of these projects.

Draft evaluation report is in the final stage of preparation.

Kuttanad Package

Kuttanad Wetland System comprises of 32 panchayats of Alappuzha, 27 panchayats of Kottayam and 5 panchayats of Pathanamthitta. In order to mitigate the agrarian distress, a package was recommended by MSSRF with a total cost of 1,840 crore (2007 price level). Out of this, schemes related to flood control, salinity management and drainage are undertaken by the Irrigation Department for an amount of 1,517.90 cr. Four schemes were sanctioned by Government of India under Flood Management Programme : KEL-I – Mitigation of floods(14 padasekharams), KEL-II – Mitigation of floods (9 padasekharams), KEL III – Mitigation of floods (231 padasekharams), KEL IV- Mitigation of floods in 12 watersheds. Works of KEL-I & KEL II were completed. The progress of KEL III and KEL IV are 92 per cent and 62 per cent respectively. Remaining works implemented under the package are in progress.

Irrigation Status

Source-wise net area irrigated during 2016-17 is given in Appendices 2.78 and 2.79. The data reveals a declining trend in the net irrigated area ie from 4.14 lakh ha in 2014-15 it dropped to 4.13 lakh ha during 2015-16 and further declined to 3.77 lakh ha during the period under review. Wells contribute the major source of irrigation benefitting 1.22 lakh ha followed by Government canals which irrigate 0.63 lakh ha. But, given the situation, the extent of area benefitted by both wells and canals is declining.

The Gross Irrigated Area shows a fluctuating trend, it increased from 4.69 lakh ha (2014-15) to 4.83 lakh ha (2015-16), but it dropped to 4.57 lakh ha in 2016-17. Details of gross irrigated area and the crops benefitted out of this is shown in Appendices 2.80 and 2.81. Coconut, paddy, arecanut and vegetables were the crops that were benefitted the most by irrigation. Nevertheless, the extent of area irrigated for these crops reduced during 2016-17 as against the previous year. Comparison with 2015-16 data shows that, the extent of area irrigated for coconut decreased from 1.65 lakh ha to 1.59 lakh ha and that of paddy from 1.50 lakh ha to 1.31 lakh ha in 2016-17. Thus, the gross irrigated area to gross cropped area declined from 18.4 per cent to 17.7 per cent during 2016-17.

Minor Irrigation

Minor irrigation schemes are those schemes having a cultivable command area up to 2000 ha. These schemes play an important role in Kerala due to various reasons such as lesser investment per hectare, easier returns and management, its suitability to agro ecology, etc. Minor irrigation scheme comprises of surface water schemes like minor irrigation tanks and canal systems, diversion weirs, lift irrigation schemes and sub-surface schemes. During the 12th Plan period, focus was given to this sector with special emphasis to the development of tanks and ponds, lift irrigation and other minor irrigation structures. Despite having a conducive environment in the State, minor irrigation schemes failed to achieve the full potential due to various reasons. A total amount of 1,231.50 crore was expended on minor irrigation sector upto the 12th Plan period with a cumulative physical achievement of 325,565 ha (net). Further, 43,699 hectares of ayacut could be achieved during the 12th Plan period. Details of physical achievements of minor irrigation schemes for the period from 2014-15 to 2016-17 is given in Appendix 2.82.

NABARD also provides loan assistance for minor irrigation works under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) through RIDF Tranche I to XXI. 1329 works were completed under various tranches. Under RIDF XXII, sanction was issued to 3 projects at an estimated cost of 27.50 crore. Details are given in Appendix 2.83.

Haritha Keralam Mission – Water Conservation and Natural Resources Management

Water conservation i.e. Jala Samrudhi is the major objective of the programme. Irrigation department has been entrusted with the responsibility to achieve this objective. This shall be achieved through renovation and cleaning of existing water sources thereby ensuring clean and safe water for drinking and irrigation purposes. The mission intends to integrate all the stake holders in the water sector and to implement various schemes/projects in an Integrated Watershed Approach for Natural Resource Management. The project is implemented in 2 phases. The first phase includes the renovation of ponds and in the second phase it is aimed to rejuvenate and renovate various water resources such as rivers, backwaters, lagoons, linking of large ponds to irrigation canals and prevention of seepage loss in irrigation canals.

Ground Water Development

Rapid growth in groundwater use is a central aspect of the world’s water story. Groundwater is a principle source of domestic water in towns and cities. Agriculture is the largest user of Groundwater. The Ground Water estimation of the State is being done jointly by State Ground water Department and Central Ground Water Board. The estimation is being done based on the groundwater levels of the area.

As per the data on Dynamic Ground Water Resources of Kerala (2013), total annual ground water recharge of the State is 6251.31 MCM and the net annual ground water availability is 5,651.53 MCM. The net ground water availability for future irrigation development is 2,944.62 MCM. The stage of ground water development of our State is 46.68 per cent. Kasaragod leads with 69.81 per cent followed by Thiruvananthapuram with 60.27 percentage. The stage of Ground water development is least for Wayanad district (19.48 per cent). Details are given in Appendix 2.84. Major schemes implemented by the Department are Investigation and Development of Ground Water Resources and scheme for ground water conservation and artificial recharge. Notable achievements during the 12th Plan period were – Ground Water Investigation (44,643 nos), Well construction (8,259 nos), Issuance of NOC to 104 bottling plants, construction of one subsurface dyke at Chittur block, 150 nos of open well recharge structures, 4 check dams, 6 bore well recharging structures, sidewall extension of one existing check dam etc. Detailed physical achievement during the year under report is given in Appendix 2.85.

Performance of Irrigation sector during 12th Five-Year Plan

During the 12th Five-Year Plan, the budgeted outlay for the Irrigation sector was 2,560.06 crore. Major and medium irrigation grabbed the major share of irrigation outlay during the period (69.43 per cent) followed by minor irrigation (19.63 per cent), Flood Control (9.84 per cent) and Command Area Development (1.09 per cent). Outlay and expenditure details of the sector during 12th Five-Year Plan are shown in Appendix 2.86.