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Abstract

Surface irrigation dominates the Indian irrigation system. The total surface waters in the country have been estimated to be around 180 million hectare metres, out of which about 60 million hectare metres have been assessed to be usable. The groundwater resources for irrigation have been calculated to be 26 million hectare metres. Together, they would enable 113 million hectares to be irrigated. Up to March 1980, which marks the end of the Fifth Five-Year Plan, 57 million hectares of irrigation potential had been developed. Nearly 30 million hectares fall under surface irrigation and the remaining is covered by groundwater use. It is planned to add another 13 million hectares during the Sixth Five-Year Plan (1980-85), half of which will be under surface irrigation. While a major part of the developed groundwater potential is in the hands of the private sector, surface irrigation is entirely owned and managed by the public sector. The private sector exploitation of groundwater resources has been found to be more efficient than the State owned and operated tubewells (Mellor and Moorti). Since the public sector deals only with a small part of groundwater resources, the costs imposed on society are less, both in absolute and relative terms. In the case of surface irrigation, evaluation studies have brought out their poor performance in terms of utilization of the created potential and realization of projected cropping patterns. Organizational and management deficiencies have been found to be the causes behind this poor performance. Some farreaching reforms are under way, the evaluation of whi~h is the subject of this paper. The paper is divided into two sections. The first section offers a brief review of the recent research findings and indicates t~e areas for reforms; the second section evaluates some of the reform measures undertaken so far.

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