Agri Business

More and more dams planned, but where is the water?

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on February 20, 2019

States with higher number of vast water storages have worst irrigation records

Almost 40 per cent of India’s large dams are in Maharashtra. And yet, the State wants more.

With 2,069 large dams already dotting its landscape, Maharashtra is building another 285 big dams, notwithstanding the fact that hardly any dam has fulfilled even half of its projected irrigation potential.

Not surprisingly, Maharashtra has one of the worst irrigation records in the country, with a mere 19 per cent of the net irrigated area — just ahead of Jharkhand, Manipur and Sikkim.

As the State gears up to face another drought, the alleged ₹70,000-crore irrigation scam, relating to alleged corruption and irregularities in approval and execution of various irrigation projects, has not reached its logical conclusion.

But this is not the only case. Madhya Pradesh has 899 big dams, followed by Gujarat ( 620), Chhattisgarh (248), Karnataka (230) and Rajasthan (209). However, among these States, except Madhya Pradesh, which has a net irrigated area of 62 per cent, no other State has achieved even 50 per cent net irrigation.

Net irrigated areas

In contrast, the States that have achieved more than 50 per cent net irrigation have fewer dams. Punjab, which has a 100 per cent net irrigated area, has 14 dams, while construction of two dams is going on.

Uttar Pradesh has achieved 87 per cent net irrigation with 115 dams and construction of 15 dams is on. With one large dam, Haryana has achieved 84 per cent irrigation. West Bengal and Bihar have achieved 59 per cent and 57 per cent net irrigation, respectively, despite having just 29 and 24 big dams, respectively.


“We have invested ₹4,00,000 crore in major and medium irrigation projects since Independence. Vast storages of water are not reaching the farmers. We have focused only on construction of dams and main canal systems, not on enduring outcomes,” observed a government-appointed committee in its report, titled ‘A 21st Century Institutional Architecture for India’s Water Reforms.’


The committee observed that the average cost over-run is as high as 1,382 per cent in major irrigation projects and 325 per cent in medium projects.

But States continue to look at big dams to resolve their water crises. According to Central Water Commission (CWC) data, presented by the Ministry of Water Resources in December 2018, there are 5,701 large dams in India of which 5,264 are completed and 437 are under construction.

Published on February 20, 2019

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like