Irrigation Sector in The National Capital Region

Water requirement for irrigation is closely related to population, demand for food, production of non-food agricultural and industrial items, improvement in quality of life and preservation of ecology and environment. Absence of effective guidelines for conservation of agricultural land and the lack of effective controlling mechanism, (legal and institutional) in constituent States, both at the Sub-regional and local levels have resulted in converting the land use from fertile land to urban use regardless of the NCR Plan.

Regional Plan-2001 did not indicate any specific policies and programmes in this regard.


Studies have revealed that the requirement of water for irrigation in the region cannot be seen in isolation. The demand for drinking water and industrial use should also be considered. Other issues are:

Insufficient Water Sources in the Region Lack of Ground Water Recharging resulting in the Depletion of Ground Water Policies and Proposals

The direction of growth in the National Capital Region will depend on the availability of water resources. Demand-supply gap of water is one of the key elements for the growth of the region, which needs to be bridged through various policy interventions and demand management. Following policies are proposed:

Regional and Integrated Approach

Integrated Water Resource Management Approach for the region is required for optimum water resources utilization and demand management including the demand for irrigation, drinking water and industry. In order to meet the demand of water in the region for various uses such as irrigation, drinking and industry, the region is dependant upon various multi-purpose River Valley/Dam Projects where large storages can be created and long distance transfer of water is done through canals. While the priority should be given to the drinking water and industrial water demand in the region, the allocation of water for agricultural purposes should also not be discarded. Overall demand of the region should be considered by the Ministry of Water Resources, riparian States and constituent States while signing the MOU for water sharing in consultation with Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation. While preparing an over all Integrated Water Resource Management Plan in the Sub-regions, the requirement of water for various purposes, treated sewage effluent and storm water collected through various rainwater harvesting methods should be considered. This should also be incorporated by the States in their Master/Development Plans.

Resources Augmentation, Demand Management and Efficiency in the Use of Water

Earlier the water used to be developed rather than being managed. With the scarcity of available water, alternative could be proper demand management and efficiency in use of water. It is expected that by the year 2021, there will be additional requirement of 16,748.0 MCM per annum (assuming that only 50% of water from river Yamuna will be made available for NCR out of 12,000 MCM per annum), for which additional water resource has to be created/augmented/existing resource has to be properly managed. Since augmentation of water resources through large dams on the Yamuna and Ganga are likely to take time more than perhaps two decades, as envisaged in the earlier plans, it would be necessary to increase the availability of water by adopting following means:

Artificial Recharging and Ground Water Harvesting

- Artificial recharge through rainwater harvesting in ponds, Yamuna flood plains, paleo-channels, ox-bow channels, construction of small check dams at favorable locations in part of the Ridge for recharge etc.
- Utilizing surplus canal water during monsoon period for recharging the depleted aquifers.
- Roof-top rainwater harvesting should be made mandatory in building bye-laws especially in the over exploited and dark Blocks i.e., the areas with unsustainable ground water resources as identified by CGWB.

Demand Management of Water

- It is expected that the treated waste water from sewerage system in the region would be around 2,423.25 MCM per annum which must be put for agricultural/non-potable use to reduce the overall demand for water for irrigation purposes.
- It is expected that water requirement for industrial purposes by the year 2021 in the region would be 4,374.27 MCM per annum, therefore, it is recommended that water based industries should not be allowed in the region. period for recharging the depleted aquifers.
- Roof-top rainwater harvesting should - Drip Irrigation method should be promoted in the region to save water from irrigation sector. Even if 25% of the water is saved, it would amount to saving of 3,500 MCM per annum.

Decentralization of authority, responsibility and technical units along with community awareness, participation and monitoring of various aspects is a must for any successful water resource management system.

For more information on Irrigation Sector in the NCR, please refer to documents below:

Regional Plan Document on Irrigation Sector
Regional Plan Action Plan on Irrigation Sector

For perusing relevant ministry websites, please click