Water Management of Minor Irrigation Schemes

The need for adopting Participatory Approach for management of Irrigation projects is crucial for conserving and optimal utilization of resources, since Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) refers to involvement of Irrigation users in all aspects of Irrigation Management and at all levels. The aspects include the initial planning and design of new Minor Irrigation Projects (MIP’s), their construction, supervision as well as improvement and also for decision making, operation and maintenance (O & M), monitoring and evaluation of the system. The Irrigation system in the country especially in the state of Meghalaya has so far been largely constructed and managed by the Government, so introducing PIM requires a new paradigm in Irrigation Management. Water Users' Association (WUA) have also been registered in various districts of the State. The objectives of PIM can thus be summarized as follows :-
  • To inculcate a sense of ownership and responsibility among the farmers.
  • To resolve differences or conflicts regarding implementation, water distribution, operation and maintenance or any other related issue.
  • To improve the service through better operation and maintenance.
  • To achieve optimum utilization of available resources through improved systems of water delivery, matching to the greatest extent possible the needs of crops.
  • To achieve equity in water distribution.
  • To make optimum use of natural precipitation as ground water in conjunction with flow irrigation.
  • To increase production per unit of water or per unit of land as the case may be.
  • To help the farmers to have a greater choice of crop sequences and timing, period and frequency of water supply, depending on soils, climate and other infrastructure facilities available in the area such as transport of produce, marketing of produce, etc. such as to maximize the income and returns.
  • To develop professional relationship between the irrigation officers/staff with farmers.
  • To promote economy in the use of water.
  • To mobilize local resources in cash or kind or in terms of labour towards meeting the O & M charges.
  • To branch out into activities other than the distribution of water for the purpose of raising resources so long as they are in consistence with the basic responsibilities of the WUA’s for example to assist farmers in a tie up with agro industries etc.
In the State of Meghalaya, the maintenance of completed Minor Irrigation schemes is being looked after by the Irrigation Department. The need for Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) is being felt now, but the progress towards the implementation of the PIM is still in the infant stage. As the system is yet to be fully evolved, the achievement so far made in this respect is only to the extent of formation and registration of Water Users’ Associations (WUAs) in the completed project areas.

At present, the formation of WUAs of MI projects is in progress and in most of the project areas, the WUAs have been formed and duly registered under the Society Act. The Draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the WUAs and the Department for handing over the operation, maintenance and management of MIPs to the WUAs has been submitted to the Government and the Cabinet’s Approval in this regard is being awaited. Regarding the realization of water rates, being a policy matter, the Government's approval in this regard is needed.