Climate and weather conditions experienced in India are varied in nature. There is extreme heat at some places, while the climate remains extremely cold at other places. Monsoon in India is also irregular and erratic in nature. The distribution of monsoon across the country is also not uniform. Therefore, there is a strong need for irrigation. Non-irrigated (rain-fed) agriculture depends entirely on rainfall, stored in the soil profile. This form of agriculture is possible only in regions where rainfall distribution ensures continuing availability of soil moisture during the critical growing periods for the crops. In irrigated agriculture, water taken up by crops is partly or totally provided through human intervention. Irrigation water is withdrawn from a water source and led to the field through an appropriate conveyance infrastructure. To satisfy their water requirements, irrigated crops benefit from both more or less unreliable natural rainfall and from irrigation water. Irrigation provides a powerful management tool against the vagaries of rainfall and makes it economically attractive to grow high yield seed varieties and to apply adequate plant nutrition as well as pest control and other inputs, thus giving room for a boost in yields.
Minor Irrigation schemes contribute a major share in the growing irrigation across the country. Irrigation schemes using either ground water or surface water and having a Culturable Command Area upto 2000 hectare individually are categorized as Minor Irrigation Schemes. The schemes have been categorized broadly into six major types; (1) Dugwell (2) Shallow tubewell (3) Medium Tubewell (4) Deep tubewell (5) Surface flow schemes and (6) Surface lift schemes. The need for conducting the census of Minor Irrigation arose as it was felt that a database of these schemes will serve the planning, development and management needs of these schemes which contribute to agriculture in a big way.
The First Census of Minor Irrigation schemes was conducted with reference year 1986-87. The Second Census with reference year 1993-94 was conducted in all States and Union Territories, except Gujarat, Maharashtra and UTs of Chandigarh, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep. The Third Minor Irrigation Census with reference year 2000-01 was conducted in all States and Union Territories except Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep. The fourth Census in the series was conducted with reference year 2006-07 in all States and Union Territories except Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep. The Fifth MI Census was conducted with reference year 2013-14 in all States and Union Territories except Daman & Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep. The Sixth
MI Census has been completed with reference year 2017-18 in all States and Union Territories except Delhi, Daman & Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep. The First census of water bodies has also been taken up in convergence with sixth MI census.