Wide variation in geographical features in Himachal Pradesh necessitates adoption of different systems for development of irrigation resources in the State. The natural springs are significant location specific sources of water. The water available from the natural sources has been traditionally distributed in the hinterland through gravity based kutchha field channels, which leads to wastage of water and often deprives the tailenders of the irrigation facilities. These structures are popularly known as kuhls in the State and are respected as lifelines. To obviate the above infrastructural constraints, the Govt. of Himachal Pradesh conceived a project to line the kuhls serving a command area ranging from 10 ha. to 70 ha. in areas where no other source of irrigation has been feasible.
2. PROJECT DETAILS
The project envisages construction of pucca channels of carrying capacity varying from location to location including sub-components, like main channel, field channels, headweir/check dam, water drop structures, footpath crossing, etc. The average cost works out to Rs.35,000 per ha. The project does not envisage use of any energy.
3.UNIQUENESS OF THE PROJECT
(a) It was envisaged that the users, through Krishak Vikas Sangh, i.e. Water Users' Association (WUAs), will be involved in planning specially the layout, execution and maintenance of the kuhls.
(b) Execution of the specific project was the responsibility of WUA. The materials, such as bricks, cement, steel, etc. was to be provided by the Department of Agriculture, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh and the WUAs, through mutual help or by engaging local masons, was to undertake the construction under the guidance of Soil Conservation Officers of the Department of Agriculture. The contractor's profit, at a nominal rate of 10% of the project cost, was credited to the bank account of the WUAs to be used as a corpus for maintenance of the field channels, etc.
(c) The project also envisaged contribution of a nominal amount of Rs.50 per year per user household towards the corpus of the WUA and the maintenance of kuhls was proposed to be undertaken out of the interest accrued on the corpus and community labour.
With construction of 157 kuhls with a total command area of more than 3400 ha. under first phase of the project has been completed. An evaluation study of the project revealed that - (i) the WUAs have been involved to a large extent in planning and execution of the works; (ii) the quality of the works has been quite satisfactory; (iii) there is a significant need for investment in the capacity building of the users in post-completion period specially for making economic use of water resources to shift from the traditional crops to high value crops and to facilitate group dynamism to ensure self-help for maintenance and improvement of structures; (iv) some investment in catchment area of the water source will further enhance life and utility of the irrigation system.
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development