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.

    15. Flood Management and Border Areas Programme (FMBAP): The Flood Management Programme (FMP) and River Management Activities and Works related to Border Areas (RMBA) under operation during XII Five Year Plan by Department of Water Resources, RD & GR merged as Flood Management and Border Areas Programme (FMBAP) for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20 and later extended upto March, 2021. The Cabinet while according approval of FMBAP has directed that for clearing the committed liabilities of ongoing and completed projects as per extant XI/XII Plan guidelines and that no new project to be included under FM component of FMBAP Scheme till then.
    The outlay of FMBAP is Rs. 3342 Crore comprising of FM component of Rs. 2642 Crore and RMBA component of Rs. 700 Crore for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20 under the Scheme. There were 83 ongoing Schemes under FMBAP out of which 39 Schemes have been physically completed / foreclosed by the State Governments.

    16. Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP): In order to address comprehensively various dam safety challenges in India, the Ministry of Jal Shakti initiated the World Bank assisted Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project(DRIP), in year 2012, with an objective to improve the safety and operational performance of selected existing dams along with dam safety institutional strengthening with system wide management approach. The initial project cost was Rs 2100 Cr(Loan share :US$ 279.3 M), which was revised to Rs 3466 Cr( Loan Share: US$ 416 M) in the year 2018. Now revised budget outlay is Rs 2642 Cr after surrendering of loan amounting to US$ 101 during COVID19. In the year 2018, the Project was also extended by Govt of India and World Bank from June 2018 to June 2020. This timeline was further extended by nine months i.e. up to March 31, 2021 to compensate the loss of time due to COVID pandemic and also facilitate the partner agencies to complete the balanced rehabilitation activities. The cumulative expenditure as on March 31, 2021 is Rs. 2525 Cr. The loan disbursed by World Bank(up to December 2020) is US$ 293.42 M (93%) out of US$ 315.3 Million.
    The Scheme has rehabilitation provision for 198 dam projects located in seven States (Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand) with 10 Implementing Agencies on board. The CWC has been entrusted with overall coordination and supervision.
    The activities include physical rehabilitation of 198 dam projects addressing hydrological, structural and operational safety concerns, Dam Safety Institutional Strengthening of participating agencies and Project Management. The major achievements as on date include Design Flood Review (250 dams); Inspection by Dam Safety Review Panel (260 dams); physical rehabilitation completed at 196 dams; preparation of Project Rehabilitation Reports (179 dams).
    Under Dam Safety Institutional Strengthening, achievements include the following:

    a. Preparation of Tier-I Inundation mapping and Dam Break Analysis (197 dams);

    b. Preparation of two dam specific important protocols viz Operation and Maintenance Manuals(194 dams) as well as Emergency Action Plan(182 dams);

    c. Stakeholder Consultation program (101 Nos);

    d. Publication of 14 Guidelines and Manuals in various areas of dam safety;

    e. 186 nos. customized training benefitting 5442 officials, along with capacity building of 8 Academic Institution and 2 Central Agencies;

    f. Implementation of Dam Health and Rehabilitation Monitoring Application(DHARMA)-a web based asset management tool in 18 States with 1100 users containing preliminary information of about 5000 dams wherein health data in respect of about 1500 dams have been entered; and

    g. Organization of three (3) National and two (2) International Dam Safety Conference with 2469 participants and 471 technical papers.

    In addition to these, dam safety legislation is also under consideration. The Dam Safety Bill 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 2, 2019 and is expected to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha in the coming time for its enactment. It is a comprehensive, well-structured legislation aligned with the world’s best practices. It has provisions for strengthening of institutional arrangement at Centre and State Levels. The Bill addresses issues related to proper surveillance, inspection, and O&M of all specified dams in the country through concerned State and Central Institutions. The Bill aims for prevention of dam failure related disasters through robust institutional mechanisms.
    DRIP Phase II and Phase III Based on the success of DRIP, Ministry of Jal Shakti initiated another externally funded Scheme DRIP Phase II and Phase III. This new Scheme has nineteen (19) States, and three Central Agencies on board. The budget outlay is Rs 10,211 Cr (Phase II: Rs 5107 Cr; Phase III: Rs 5104 Cr) with rehabilitation provision of 736 dams. The Scheme is of 10 years duration, proposed to be implemented in two Phases, each of six years duration with two years overlapping. Each Phase has external assistance of US$ 500 M. The Union Cabinet has approved the Scheme on October 29, 2020.

    17. On 31.7.2014, the Ministry was renamed as “Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation”. The following additional items of work have been assigned to the Ministry:-

    a. National Ganga River Basin Authority including the Mission Directorate, National Mission for Clean Ganga and other related matters of Ganga Rejuvenation.

    b. Conservation, development, management and abatement of pollution in river Ganga and its tributaries.

    18. On 14.06.2019, the Ministry was renamed as “Ministry of Jal Shakti”/ “Jal Shakti Mantralaya)” with two Departments i.e. Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (Jal Sansadhan, Nadi Vikas Aur Ganga Sanrakshan Vibhag) and Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (Peya Jal Aur Swachhata Vibhag)”. The work assigned to Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is:-


    a. Development, conservation and management of water as a national resource; overall national perspective of water planning and coordination in relation to diverse uses of water and interlinking of rivers;

    b. National Water Resources Council;

    c. General Policy, technical assistance, research and development training and all matters relating to irrigation, including multi-purpose, major, medium, minor and emergency irrigation works; hydraulic structures for navigation and hydro-power; tube wells and groundwater exploration and exploitation; protection and preservation of ground water resources; conjunctive use of surface and ground water, irrigation for agricultural purposes, water management, command area development; management of reservoirs and reservoir sedimentation; flood (control) management, drainage, drought proofing, water logging and sea erosion problems; dam safety;

    d. Regulation and development of Inter-State rivers and river valleys. Implementation of Awards of Tribunals through Schemes, River Boards;

    e. Water laws, legislation;

    f. Water quality assessment;

    g. Cadre control and management of the Central Water Engineering Services (Group A);

    h. Conservation, development, management and abatement of pollution of rivers.


    i. International organizations, commissions and conferences relating to water resources development and management, drainage and flood control;

    j. International Water Law;

    k. Matters relating to rivers common to India and neighboring countries; the Joint Rivers Commission with Bangladesh, the Indus Waters Treaty 1960; the Permanent Indus Commission;

    l. Bilateral and external assistance and cooperation programmes in the field of water resources development.

    19. Presently, the following Attached & Subordinate Offices, Statutory Bodies, Registered Societies and Public Sector Undertakings are working under the control of the Department of Water Resources, RD & GR:-

    Attached Offices

    1. Central Water Commission (CWC)

    2. Central Soil & Materials Research Station (CSMRS)

    Subordinate Offices

    3. Central Ground Water Board (CGWB)

    4. Central Ground Water Authority(CGWA)

    5. Central Water & Power Research Station (CWPRS)

    6. Bansagar Control Board (BCB)

    7. Ganga Flood Control Commission (GFCC)

    8. Farakka Barrage Project (FBP)

    9. Farakka Barrage Project Control Board

    10. Sardar Sarovar Construction Advisory Committee

    11. Upper Yamuna River Board (UYRB)

    12. National Water Information Centre (NWIC)

    Statutory Bodies

    13. Tungabhadra Board (TB)

    14. Betwa River Board (BRB)

    15. Brahmaputra Board (BB)

    16. Godavari River Management Board (GRMB)

    17. Krishna River Management Board (KRMB)

    Corporate Bodies

    18. Narmada Control Authority (NCA)

    19. Cauvery Water Management Authority

    Registered Societies/ Autonomous Bodies

    20. National Water Development Agency (NWDA)

    21. National Institute of Hydrology (NIH)

    22. North Eastern Regional Institute of Water and Land Management (NERIWALM)

    23. National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)

    24. National River Conservation Directorate

    25. National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC).

    26. Polavaram Project Authority (PPA)

    Public Sector Undertakings

    27. National Projects Construction Corporation Limited (NPCC Ltd.)

    28. Water & Power Consultancy Services Limited (WAPCOS Ltd.)