Improving Irrigation in India, the Neglected Opportunity
Over the centuries sizable investments have been made in India to develop the irrigation potential and these investments have continued during the first quarter century of independence. In this present article two different programs are considered which attempt to improve the water use and management in Eastern India. One is located in the HiraRud project which irrigates 282,000 acres in Sambalpur district of Orissa; the other is in Raipur district just west of Sambalpur in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Both projects attempt to improve the water use and management of existing irrigation by installing field channels to give farmers better control over water on each field. These projects represent the two ends of the cost spectrum. The Raipur project is capital intensive and costly relative to the Sambalpur projects, which consist of a simple system of village field channels installed at minimum cost. This article reports on the internal rates of return from these projects and highlights the importance of technically trained people and alternative project designs in making project viable.