Organizational history of the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
1. The history of the subject ‘Irrigation & Power’ dates back to 1855 when it was made the responsibility of the then newly created Department of the Public Works. However, not much importance was given to irrigation work till the famine of 1858, when it was decided to take up canal construction work on an extensive scale and accordingly, an Inspector General of Canals was appointed. In 1863, taking into consideration the importance attached to development of irrigation facilities in the country, it was decided to place this subject under the charge of an irrigation expert, with the designation of Inspector General of Irrigation. He functioned under the administrative control of Secretary, Public Works Department.
2. Under the Government of India Act 1919, irrigation became a Provincial subject and the Government of India’s responsibility was confined to advice, co-ordination and settlement of disputes over the rights on the water of Inter-Provincial Rivers. On the recommendations of the In-charge Committee, Public Works Department was merged with the Department of Industry in 1923 and a combined department known as ‘Department of Industries and Labour’ looked after the subject of ‘Irrigation and Power’. A Central Board of Irrigation was also constituted in 1927. In 1937, the Department of Industry and Labour was bifurcated into the Department of Communication and Department of Labour. The latter was assigned the work relating to Irrigation and Power. Thereafter, on the recommendation of the Secretariat Reorganization Committee, Department of Works, Mines and Power, was created which looked after the subject of ‘Irrigation and Power’. In 1951, a new Ministry of National Resources and Scientific Research was set up and it took over the subject of ‘Irrigation and Power’ from the Ministry of Works, Mines and Power.
3. A separate Ministry of Irrigation and Power was set up in 1952 to look after the subject of irrigation. In the wake of unprecedented floods, a Flood Control Board was constituted to consider flood control programme at the highest level. In 1969, an Irrigation Commission was set up to go into the matter of future irrigation development programme in the country in a comprehensive manner. To help in ensuring unified and coordinated programme for the speedy implementation of Irrigation and Command Area Development Projects, as well as for providing other inputs for maximizing agricultural produce, a separate Department of Irrigation was set up in November, 1974 under the reconstituted Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, consequent upon the bifurcation of erstwhile Ministry of Irrigation and Power.
4. In January 1980, Department of Irrigation came under the new Ministry of Energy and Irrigation. On 09.06.1980, the then Ministry of Energy and Irrigation was bifurcated and the erstwhile Department of Irrigation was raised to the level of Ministry with a view to having a coordinated and comprehensive view of the entire irrigation sector. In addition to major and medium irrigation, major irrigation sector, both surface and ground, as Command Area Development Programme were brought within the purview of Ministry of Irrigation.
5. The following items of work were transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture (Department of Agriculture & Cooperation) to the Ministry of Irrigation with effect from 22.07.1980:-
a. Irrigation for agricultural purpose;
b. Minor and emergency irrigation; and
c. Ground water exploration.
6. In January 1985, the Ministry of Irrigation was once again combined under the Ministry of Irrigation and Power. However, in re-organization of the Ministries of the Central Government in September 1985, the then Ministry of Irrigation and Power was bifurcated and the Department of Irrigation was re-constituted as the Ministry of Water Resources. This recognition of the necessity of planning for the development of the country’s water resources in a coordinated manner resulted in a change in the character of the Ministry and the Ministry had to assume a nodal role in regard to all matters concerning the country’s water resources.
7. With the nomenclature of the Ministry as the Ministry of Water Resources, perspective planning was taken up to fulfill the role expected of the Ministry. In this new perspective, requiring overall planning and coordination of all aspects of the development of the country’s water resources, it was felt necessary to formulate a National Water Policy, laying down, inter-alia, priorities for various uses of water.
8. National Water Resources Council was constituted under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister to look into this aspect. The National Water Resources Council (NWRC) adopted the National Water Policy in September 1987. National Water Board was constituted in September, 1990 with Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources as Chairman and Chief Secretaries of all the States / UTs, Secretaries of concerned Union Ministries and Chairman, Central Water Commission, as Members, in order to review the progress of implementation of the stipulations of the National Water Policy for reporting to the NWRC and also initiate effective measures for systematic development of the country’s water resources.
9. Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP): Central Government launched the AIBP in the year 1996-97 to provide Central Assistance to major/medium irrigation projects in the country, with the objective to accelerate implementation of such projects which were beyond the resource capability of the States or were at an advanced stage of completion. Priority was given to those projects which were started in Pre-Fifth and Fifth Plan period and also to those which were benefiting Tribal and Drought Prone Areas. After launch of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) in 2015-16, AIBP became a part of PMKSY. Since its inception, 297 Irrigation / Multi-Purpose Projects have been included for funding under AIBP. Out of this 143 projects have been completed and 5 projects were foreclosed. An irrigation potential of 24.39 Lakh ha has been created through the completed projects. The cumulative Central Loan Assistance / Grant provided to States under AIBP (MMI) to all of above projects till 31.3.2016 was Rs. 55196 Crore. Twenty-five States got benefited from the programme. Under PMKSY (AIBP), 99 projects having ultimate potential of 76.03 Lakh ha. have been prioritized for completion by Dec.,2019. Total requirement of funds for completion of these 99 projects is estimated at Rs. 77,595 Crore including CAD&WM works. For AIBP works estimated cost is Rs. 48,546 Crore with Central Assistance (CA) of Rs. 16,818 Crore.
10. The National Water Resources Council adopted the revised ‘National Water Policy2002’ and passed a resolution to this effect in its 5th meeting held on 1st April, 2002 at New Delhi under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister. Thereafter, the National Water Board considered the further revised Draft National Water Policy 2012, as recommended by the Drafting Committee, at its 14th Meeting held on 7th June, 2012 and the same was again circulated amongst all the States and Central Ministries/ Departments concerned for comments. The Council adopted the NWP 2012 as per deliberation in its 6th Meeting held on 28th December, 2012. The National Water Policy, 2012 was released on 8th April, 2013 during the India Water Week, 2013.
11. The Centrally Sponsored Scheme - Rationalization of Minor Irrigation Statistics (RMlS) was launched in 1987-88 and is being implemented by Minor Irrigation (Stat.) Wing of the Department through State Governments. It is now renamed as "Irrigation Census" which is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with 100% Central funding.
The objective of the Scheme is to build a comprehensive and reliable database in the Minor Irrigation Sector for effective planning and policy making. Five Minor Irrigation Censuses with reference years 1986-87, 1993-94, 2000-01, 2006-07 and 2013-14 have been conducted so far.
The major activities under the Scheme are: (i) conduct of 6th Minor Irrigation Census with reference year 2017-18 and (ii) conduct of a Census of Water Bodies which is taken up for the first time.
12. For comprehensive improvement of water bodies, two schemes - Repair, Renovation and Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies, one with external assistance and the other with domestic support for implementation during XI Plan Period was approved by the Government. The scheme of RRR of water bodies includes the catchment area treatment, command area development, capacity building of stakeholders and increased availability of drinking water.
13. The Scheme ‘R&D Programme in Water sector’ aims to promote research in water sector through various organizations of Department of Water Resources, RD&GR and provide financial assistance to promote research work in the field of water resources engineering through academician/experts in Universities, IITs, NITs, recognized R&D laboratories, Water Resources/ Irrigation Departments of Central and State Governments and NGOs and aided/unaided Private Institutions for conducting research in water sector.
The R & D activities undertaken in the Scheme are essential for the management and development of water resources of the country. These activities are playing key role for creation and implementation of research and knowledge base for the State Governments/Union Territories, Institutions and other stakeholders working in the water sector. The activities taken up under this Scheme are:
a. R&D activities through Apex Research Organizations at National level: Central Water and Power Research Station(CWPRS), Pune; Central Soil and Material Research Station(CSMRS); National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee; and Central Water Commission (CWC), New Delhi.
b. Sponsoring and Coordinating Research in water sector through Educational Institutions, Indian Research Institutes, NGOs and Indian Private Institutes in collaboration with Government Institutes.
c. Dissemination of research findings and technology transfer and International Collaborations
d. Evaluation of R&D Activities and Consultancies
14. National Action Plan on Climate Change: The Government of India launched National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) on 30th June, 2008, which inter-alia envisages the approach to be adopted to meet the challenges of impact of climate change through eight National Missions including National Water Mission (NWM). Ministry of Water Resources has set up National Water Mission with the main objective of “conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources development and management”. The Union Cabinet approved a “Comprehensive Mission Document” of the NWM on 6.4.2011 with following five goals:-
a. Comprehensive Water Data Base in Public Domain and Assessment of Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources.
b. Promotion of Citizen and State Action for Water Conservation, Augmentation and Preservation.
c. Focused Attention on Vulnerable Areas including Over-exploited Areas.
d. Increasing Water Use Efficiency by 20%.
e. Promotion of Basin Level and Integrated Water Resources Management.