The farming community in the state has been warned by experts over deceasing water availability for irrigation purpose in next 10-15 years.
Attributing it to climate resilient development, mostly in the hydropower sector, water availability for irrigation purposes will vary sub-basin wise, said a report compiled by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in collaboration with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and nodal support from the department of environment, science and technology (DEST).
Experts of various agencies observed that the upper Indus, Sutlej upper, and Chenab subbasins might have reduced surface water availability. Besides, the evapotranspiration (process where moisture is returned to the air by evaporation from the soil and transpiration by plants) is expected to increase by 6 % to 8% across all sub-basins.
“Considering the delivery, conveyance, and application losses, actual irrigation will be considerably more, depending upon the type of irrigation method,” the report said, adding: “Hence, the agriculture and horticulture activities in these sub-basins need attention.”
Already laggard in the irrigation sector, the state is required to work hard keeping such observation in mind.
“Due to lack of irrigation facilities, our agricultural production to a large extent still depends on timely rainfall and weather conditions,” a government official said. The report also projected that as a result of climate variability, Lahaul & Spiti, Kinnaur, Shimla, and Sirmour will be affected due to medium to high decrease in total annual surface runoff.
In Himachal, less than 30% area is irrigated while remaining is on the mercy of rainfall. Of the total geographical area of 55.67 lakh hectares of state, only 5.83 lakh hectares is the net area sown. It is estimated that ultimate irrigation potential of the state is approximately 3.35 lakh hectares. Of this, 0.50 lakh hectares can be brought under irrigation through major and medium irrigation projects and balance 2.85 lakh hectares of area can be provided irrigation through minor irrigation schemes.
“So far, over 2.60 lakh hectares land has been brought under the irrigation facility,” a government official added.