Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called for a multi-pronged strategy aimed at quick expansion of irrigation projects linked to a comprehensive evaluation of cropping patterns across the various states.
The prime minister urged the government to treat a below-normal monsoon as an opportunity to expand irrigation potential, through a judicious mix of irrigation projects – including micro irrigation, sprinkler and drip irrigation.
Modi also called for improvement in water usage to offset the impact of a reduced monsoon rainfall, amidst signs that the country is bracing for its first drought in six years.
Nearly two-thirds of India's farms lack irrigation and millions of farmers still depend on the unpredictable monsoon rains for irrigation.
Addressing officials from the prime minister's office (PMO), the ministries of agriculture, water resources, rural development and finance, as well as the NITI Aayog, Modi asked for a re-examination of administrative mechanisms, financial arrangements, and technology applications in the irrigation sector, an official release stated.
"Reviewing the preparations for the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, the prime minister said expansion of irrigation has to be linked with a comprehensive evaluation of cropping patterns across states, as well as a judicious mix of modern and micro irrigation systems such as drip and sprinkler irrigation. Simultaneously, a thorough study should be made of various traditional irrigation methods across the country," the release said.
Modi also highlighted that young university researchers should be involved in planning irrigation policy, which he said should be worked out at the district level.
He also noted that falling groundwater levels in some states made it essential to bring an urgent shift in cropping patterns and called for a focus on maize and value-additions for the crop to make it attractive for farmers.