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Ramthal: Asia’s Largest Integrated Drip Irrigation Project

By Ayushman Malakar

M.Sc. Forestry Scholar, Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, Uttarakhand
Email: ayushmanmalakar@gmail.com

Ramthal is a village located in Hundgund Taluk, Bagalkote District of Karnataka. Being a water-stressed state, the Government of Karnataka (GoK) realizes the significance of water conservation. In its quest to derive maximum benefit out of the limitedly available water resource, the GoK has launched Asia’s largest drip irrigation programme under Stage II of Ramthal (Marol) Lift Irrigation Project in 2017. The project is based on the unique concept of integrated micro irrigation.

About 20,000 farmers are benefited from this project consisting an irrigated area of around 60,000 acres. The project, which was envisioned by the client Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Limited (KBJNL), was successfully completed by MEIL.The project will be inaugurated by MB Patil, Minister for Water Resources, Karnataka.

A total of 2,150 km length of pipeline was laid for the drip irrigation project that costs Rs 381.50 crore. A source in the Ramthal project said the benefits of the automated system are that irrigation can be increased up to 100%, compared to conventional projects. It improves water use efficiency beyond 90%, saves around 50% of power, ensures high efficiency in the use of fertilizers and no soil erosion, and maintains soil health.

Salient features of the project

Ramthal Irrigation Project is the one of the largest of its kind Drip Irrigation Project in Asia. Implementation of this project will result in economical use of water, increase in irrigation potential and yield, and all these benefits will together contribute to improving the economic status of farmers in the region. This is the first project in India built with the Israeli drip irrigation technology. The pipeline system for this project was laid underground and the pipes for this project are made of fiber optic material and last for more than 50 years

The officials of the Karnataka Water Resources Department clarified that areas that receive water from a regular canal will be able to save an additional 1.34 TMC ft of water. Of the 5.84 TMC ft of water allocated from the Krishna River, the project will use 3.07 TMC ft of water for Phase I and 2.77 TMC of water for phase II.

  • Drip Irrigation System for 60,000 Ha. Under 2nd Stage Lift of the LIS is largest of its kind Project in the World. System operation is through wireless automation
  • 15,000 Farmers benefitted under the scheme.
  • Mega community Drip Irrigation Project: 51 No. Water User Co-operative Societies formed.
  • Formation of WUA & Marketing Linkages: Agri-linkages are established for the marketing of Agri-produce which to improve the economic status of farmers
  • Infrastructure cost borne by government, Expenditure Incurred : Rs.1035.00 Crore

The Canal Network

1st Stage: East Canal : 51.82 KM (20 distributaries) West Canal : 62.74 KM (25 distributaries)

2nd Stage: East Canal : 19.00 Km (3 No. distributaries) West Canal : 10.00 Km (5 No. distributaries) Hungund Br. Canal – 31 Km (16 No. distributaries)

Water Practices followed in Ramthal Drip Irrigation Project

Ramthal Micro Irrigation follows Drip Irrigation for irrigation 60,000 acres of land using just 2.77 TMC of water.

As Ramthal is community Drip Irrigation Project involving about 6700 beneficiaries, the operational mechanism should be simple, sturdy & technically viable with minimum no of control points. Accordingly, proposed automation system is as follows:

Zone Level Controls:

Primary fully automatic filter, NMC XL Irrigation Controller with RTU, antenna, solar panel etc. Every zone will have about 100 solenoid valves & 10 sub- zone level water meters. Other components like RTU, expansion cards, antenna etc. will be wherever necessary.

Sub-Zone Level Controls:

Water meter, RTU, antenna, lithium battery, group of solenoid (wherever possible). Sub-zone will have 10 solenoids valves & a water meter with other automation components as necessary

Infield Automation:

Group of 2-4 solenoid valves each serving 4-6 Ha area, RTU, antenna, lithium battery etc.

Crops prospected to be grown

Orchard CropsGrapes, Banana, Pomegranate, Orange,
Citrus, Mango, Lemon, Custard Apple, Sapota,
Guava, Pineapple, Coconut, Cashewnut,
Papaya, Aonla, Litchi, Watermelon,
Muskmelon etc.
VegetablesTomato, Chilly, Capsicum, Cabbage,
Cauliflower, Onion, Okra, Brinjal, Bitter Gourd,
Ridge Gourd, Cucumber, Peas, Spinach,
Pumpkin etc.
Cash CropsSugarcane, Cotton. Arecanut, Strawberry etc.
FlowersRose, Carnation, Gerbera, Anthurium,
Orchids, Jasmine, Dahilia, Marigold etc.
PlantationTea, Rubber, Coffee, Coconut etc.
SpicesTurmeric, Cloves, Mint etc,
Oil SeedSunflower, Oil palm, Groundnut etc.
Forest CropsTeakwood, Bamboo etc.

Ramthal Project Impact

  1. Doubled the no of project beneficiaries with same resources.
  2. With 2.77 TMC of water, irrigating 24,000 Ha area with Drip system as against 12,571 Ha in flood method.
  3. Improved standard of living of project beneficiaries.
  4. Equitable Distribution of Water -Irrespective of topography & distance of farm from the water source.
  5. Incremental returns to all the project associates.

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