The success of irrigation with sprinklers in the command area of the India Gandhi Canal to augment agricultural activities in arid western Rajasthan has prompted the State government to carry out irrigation with sprinklers in six lift canal projects operative in the canal project’s second phase.

A pilot project worth Rs. 83.10 crore was sanctioned for an area measuring 28,732 hectares as part of the 12th Finance Commission’s allocations. According to the State’s Irrigation Department, work relating to installation of hand-pumps, laying of underground pipes for sprinklers, power connections to water tanks and establishment of water consumer groups is in progress.

The Indira Gandhi Canal brings the Ravi-Beas and Sutlej river waters to Rajasthan through Pong, Bhakhra and Ranjit Sagar dams and Harike barrage through the main waterway of the length of 445 km and the 4,850-km-long distributaries constructed during the first and second phases.

Before the Rajasthan government’s Irrigation Department embarked on the use of sprinklers in a big way earlier this year, agricultural scientists S.K. Mathur and M.S. Shekhawat reported in their studies that sprinklers would augment wheat production by 100 per cent, maize and vegetable production by 66 per cent each, groundnut production by 11 per cent and coffee production by 95 per cent. Their studies were conducted in the State’s Hanumangarh, Bator and Lunkaransar areas.

Their surveys revealed that sprinklers can save up to 40 per cent of irrigation water and cut down the expenditure on fertilisers and insecticides, besides reducing the costs incurred in levelling of agricultural land before the seeds are sown. As one of the important micro-irrigation tools, sprinklers help the farmers in getting more output in less amount of water. Augmentation of agricultural production has also provided better livelihood opportunities to the local populace.

The Central Water Commission and the Planning Commission have approved an amended proposal for allocation of Rs. 6,921.31 crore for second phase of Indira Gandhi Canal Project. Of the amount, Rs. 1,879 crore will be spent on irrigation with sprinklers. The new irrigation system will be established at a cost of Rs.1,166 crore, while the rest of the amount will be spent on works such as power supply, installation of pumps and strengthening of the canal structure.

According to the Irrigation Department, farmers are being encouraged to adopt sprinklers in their routine irrigation practices with the identification of the crop varieties that can benefit from this micro-irrigation technique. Against the target set for 28,732 hectares, sprinklers have been used so far on agricultural land measuring 12,980 hectares in the command area.

Rajasthan government is promoting irrigation with sprinklers on the Indira Gandhi Canal project’s second phase

More In: NEW DELHI | NATIONAL