Karnataka

Irrigation project complete, inauguration awaited

The Ramthal irrigation project got administrative approval from the State government in August 2012 for an estimated cost of ₹786.11 crore.

The Ramthal irrigation project got administrative approval from the State government in August 2012 for an estimated cost of ₹786.11 crore.  

Ramthal, said to be the world’s biggest micro-irrigation project that is being implemented at Hungund taluk in Bagalkot district, is awaiting official inauguration even though it has been completed.

The project provides irrigation facility to over 24,000 hectares of land, to the benefit of more than 15,000 small and marginal farmers in the district. Officials say nowhere in the world has such a large-scale micro-irrigation project been implemented in one place. The project got administrative approval from the State government in August 2012 for an estimated cost of ₹786.11 crore. It proposed to utilise 5.84 tmcft of water from the backwaters of the Narayanpur reservoir of the Upper Krishna Project under two stages.

The government had given contract of installation and maintenance to a private agency, which has used a high-end automated centralised control system for supplying water to the fields.

“The government decided to implement the micro-irrigation project in order to save water, as unlike in the conventional (flood irrigation) system which needs more water, under micro irrigation a wider area can be covered with limited water,” said Water Resources Minister M.B. Patil.

Elaborating on the other major benefits of the project, he said micro irrigation or drip irrigation allows water to percolate and reach the root of the plant, thus improving crop quality and increasing output. “As water uniformly reaches every plant, unlike in the flood irrigation system, the crop gives higher yield. Micro-irrigation projects also avoid major problems such as salinity, which has damaged thousands of acres in the State,” Mr. Patil said.

Calling land acquisition as one of the major challenges the government faces in implementing irrigation projects, the Minister said a micro-irrigation project does not require a large area, unlike a flood irrigation system. “Besides this, micro irrigation saves precious water from seepage and evaporation as the water reaches [the plants] through pipelines, not canals,” he said.

Farmers happy

The farmers in the region are happy to have a micro-irrigation facility in their farms.

When Channappa Budihal, 63, began working on his family’s 22-acre land as a youth in Kamatagi village of Hungund taluk, the farm was rain-dependent. Despite having a large agricultural plot, owing to absence of a proper irrigation facility, the farm was not giving a high yield. But things have changed for the better with the arrival of the Ramthal project.

“It has changed our fate for good. Today, I am cultivating horticultural crops such as onion which we could never do in the absence of irrigation facility,” he said.

Mr. Budihal said now, the farmers of the taluk cultivate crops such as gherkin, soybean and coriander. “Officials demonstrated to us that even agricultural crops such as toor, sunflower and jowar give a higher yield of about 40% with drip irrigation,” he said.

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Printable version | Mar 24, 2020 3:20:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/irrigation-project-complete-inauguration-awaited/article21382787.ece

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