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Committee favours continuance of minor irrigation

Written by: Staff

Bangalore, May 17 : The Assessors Committee report on Cauvery Basin has favoured continuance of minor irrigation works in the basin of the riparian States, but warned that any increase in area under minor irrigation will be at the cost of reduction in areas permitted under major and medium projects.

Consequently, their water share for medium and major projects would get reduced, the report circulated among the riparian States by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal for their comments has stated. However, a final view in the matter would be taken by the Tribunal after hearing the arguments of the States.

Recognising the need for extending minor irrigation in the basin, contrary to the views expressed by the Experts Committee, headed by C C Patel, the report strongly felt that in view of the Centre's policy of encouraging extensive irrigation, it would be advisable to allow the actual development of minor irrigation as indicated by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala before the Tribunal.

Tamil Nadu, which had indicated that it would further develop 53,600 acres, taking the total area under minor irrigation to 344,500 acres, sought a water requirement of 69 TMC, while Karnataka had stated that it intended to develop 90,100 acres to bring the area under minor irrigation to around 330,100 acreas with the water requirement estimated at 71.3 TMC.

The Experts Committee had said the minor irrigations works were generally inefficient and would lead to unnecessary controversies.

Pointing out the prevalence of tank irrigation in the erstwhile Mysore State prior to the 1924 agreement, the report said though various types of minor irrigation works were in existence since ancient times, the assessors had taken into consideration minor irrigation from surface water only. While the 1924 agreement made no mention of minor irrigation, it was discussed during the course of negotiations on the 1892 agreement between the riparian States when the chief engineer of Mysore had indicated that rainfall in the territory could be intercepted up to the extent of 30 to 35 inches and the State could use the entire water precipitation.

The report said ''it would be important that while apportioning water, the quantum allocated to each State for use under minor irrigation will have to be carefully considered because without restriction on the use of water under minor irrigation, the State concerned can intercept and consume much more quantum of water, with the consequent result that the flows from its territory reaching the river system could get drastically reduced.'' The Cauvery Fact Finding Committee had indicated that by 1971, about 5.8 lakh acreas of land utilising about 116 TMC of water were under minor irrigation in the basin.

The assessors, in their report, had estimated the total irrigation requirement of Tamil Nadu for providing facilities in an area of 2.47 million acres at 394.85 TMC. This included a share of 62.47 TMC of water for minor irrigation, covering an area of 344,500 acres.

For Karnataka, while alloting 250.62 TMC to cover an area of 1.88 million acres, they assigned 63.88 TMC for minor irrigation covering an area of 3.3 lakh acres.


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