(i) Background: Except Apatani Plateau of Lower Subansiri District, Irrigation system was little known to the Arunachalees till 1950. Despite hilly terrain, low crop productivity and small land holdings, primary occupation of major population of Arunachal Pradesh is agriculture. Although the geographical area is larger than Assam, cultivable flat and mild slope area in the State is limited and hence every acre of irrigable land is to be planned properly to increase the productivity. Many farmers are resorting to shifting cultivation with primitive agricultural practices. In order to discourage the environmentally adverse shifting cultivation, permanent cultivation with assured irrigation facilities to the limited available area is the endeavor of the Govt.
The ultimate irrigation potential of Arunachal Pradesh as assessed by the Water & Power consultancy Services (India) Ltd. (WAPCOS) during 1994 is 3.60 lakh hectare through surface water and 0.18 lakh hectare through ground water at irrigation intensity of 200%. This figure, which accounts for about 2.00% of State’s geographical area, needs to be reviewed in due course of time. The actual ultimate irrigation potential is expected to be more than 3.60 lakh hectare due to population growth leading to de-reservation of social forestry and unclassified forests for agricultural purposes.
The ultimate irrigation potential of 3.60 hectare through surface water implies that net potential area available for irrigated cultivation is 1.80-lakh hectare. This indicates that irrigation potential creation and its utilization need to be emphasized to meet the growing demand of anticipated population growth. Judicious irrigation management practices through active participatory approach require to be stepped up.
(ii) Achievements: Reports of Minor Irrigation Census of the State reveals that about 1.20-lakh hectare (about 66.67% of available potential) irritation potential has been created till the end of 4th year of Xth Five Year Plan. Geological fragility of Himalayan Region combined with highest rainfall intensity in the State result in frequent damages to the irrigation structures constructed earlier. Many minor irrigation projects have been rendered defunct due to water related damages. It is reported that about 30% of created potential (0.36 Lakh hectare) are lying defunct due to water related damages.
As against the potential creation of 1.20-lakh hectare, potential utilization is reported to be 0.48 lakh hectare, which is 40% of potential created. There exists a utilization gap of 60% at present. Expansion of area of utilization is done through the Command Area Development and Water management programme with active involvement of Water Users Associations in several commands.
(iii) Vision: As mentioned above, that about 66.67% of available potential of the State has been created and about 40% of the created potential has been brought under utilization, more achievement has to be made in potential creation and even more emphasis has to be given to reduce the utilization gap. The vision of the Department would be to achieve additional potential creation of 0.60-lakh hectare and restore the lost potential of 0.36-lakh hectare along with the plan for bringing 1.32 Lakh hectare under utilization in future.