Irrigation Infrastructure Provisioning
The Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation Ltd. initiated the Community Lift Irrigation Project/ Deep Bore Well Project to provide lift irrigation for assured irrigation coverage to uplands and tail end connectivity through an underground pressurized pipe network by lifting runoff from the source and optimizing ground water utilization by engaging light/heavy duty pumps.
Prior to the project’s implementation, upland farmers relied primarily on monsoon rainfall for Kharif agriculture and experienced losses. They were unable to cultivate Rabi and Summer crops during unpredictable or severe shortages of rain. Due to geographical contours, the traditional practice of flow irrigation was not practicable. Seasonal unemployment and labor movement were in desperate need of monitoring and management. Furthermore, marginal farmers underutilized a large portion of farmland, jeopardizing their financial viability.
The Community Lift Irrigation Project began to assure year-round irrigation in upland regions by elevating runoff and groundwater that could not be irrigated by flow irrigation. Irrigation was carried out to maximize resource efficiency while minimizing damage to agricultural land. Enhanced focus was placed on DPAP blocks, tribal regions, and Agriculture Productivity Clusters (APC) block areas, resulting in increased irrigation fold, water utilization efficiency, and agricultural production. Farmers profited from assured irrigation due to lower gestation period. They were given a one-hectare chak with one outlet tank to ensure that water was distributed evenly among farmers with minimal wastage. Electrical substations and stable voltage were also provided to ensure the smooth operation of energy-efficient pumps, reducing pump operating hours and, as a result, energy costs.
The initiative significantly improved the growth of agriculture and the livelihood of upland farmers who lacked access to conventional irrigation. Farmers who were socioeconomically disadvantaged on both sides of the upland areas obtained irrigation water as well as job opportunities. This effort resulted in the year-round production of cash crops, resulting in high profits and economic viability. There was a significant rise in irrigated land and aid in cultivating the complete share of land, as well as an increase in crop diversity and rainfed agricultural opportunities. The issue of seasonal unemployment, and situation of migration, were addressed, and efforts were made to multiply assets.
The primary obstacles encountered during the project’s first stages were that irrigation was controlled using flooded irrigation systems, and farmers were not receiving a satisfactory return for their produce, motivating them to engage in cultivation, which jeopardized the project’s goal.
The innovative aspects of the project includes implementation of outlets for each hectare of command with integration of various components of systems for monitoring water flow and introduction of pressurized underground pipelines. It included optimized water usage with minimum power consumption by using energy efficient motors. Online application system of Lift Irrigation Projects brought in transparency, providing user friendly and human- interface free services to cultivators. The introduction of Pani Panchayat activities led to better community participation in the project. It also worked on creation of a skilled workforce at Gram Panchayat level to identify Pani Panchayat members with technical support of the Government and training was given by Water And Land Management Institute (WALMI) for optimal use of irrigation water and crop diversification.
Recognizing the project’s success, 2863 new projects encompassing 27 districts have been initiated where both groundwater and surface water will be used. A training session for 40 designated Pani Panchayat members was performed in two groups, recognizing the effectiveness of creating a trained workforce. The goal for FY 2022-23 is to provide extra guaranteed irrigation of 1,03,000 ha in Kharif and 61,800 ha in Rabi through 2863 community projects and 10,000 deep BWs. Educating farmers on the benefits of switching from conventional paddy to low-cost cash crops, which would improve their overall agricultural and livelihood has also been implicated. In addition, sprinkler and drip irrigation will be used in projects in collaboration with the horticulture department to make the most effective use of pumped water for irrigation.
The successful implementation of the Community Lift Irrigation Project/ Deep Bore Well Project has benefited Farmers of uplands covering all 30 districts of around 9.60 lakhs. The project’s goal was achieved by reinforcing and extending minor lift irrigation projects, which expedited the rise of income, production, and employment of small and marginal farmers in rural regions and assured sustainability, geographical inclusiveness, and farmer self-sufficiency. Furthermore, the provision of assured irrigation to uplands with tail end connectivity enabled farmers to grow crops all year round, aided crop diversification, enabled rainfed farming, reduced seasonal unemployment, restricted labor migration, and multiplied assets. Pani Panchayat activities were introduced to improve community participation in project operation and maintenance.