Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP)

In the state Budget for 2017-18, the then Vasundhara Raje BJP government had said that the ERCP will help fulfil the long-term irrigation and drinking water needs of 13 districts: Jhalawar, Baran, Kota, Bundi, Sawai Madhopur, Ajmer, Tonk, Jaipur, Karauli, Alwar, Bharatpur, Dausa, and Dholpur.

The project was approved by the Central Water Commission in 2017. Raje had also said that the state government had sent a proposal to the central government to declare ERCP as a project having national importance. This demand has since been made repeatedly by the Congress government that came to power in the state. Chief Minister Gehlot has written letters in this regard to Prime Minister Modi, and also highlighted this during the Prime Minister’s interaction with Chief Ministers in NITI Aayog meetings.

The Rajasthan government has announced an allocation of Rs 13,000 crore for the ERCP in the state Budget 2023.

What is the aim of the ERCP?

The Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project aims to harvest surplus water available during the rainy season in rivers in southern Rajasthan, such as the Chambal and its tributaries Kunnu, Parvati, and Kalisindh, and use it in the water-scarce south-eastern districts of the state.

According to the state Water Resources Department, Rajasthan’s geographical area of 342.52 lakh hectares equals 10.4 per cent of the entire country but holds only 1.16 per cent of India’s surface water and 1.72 per cent of groundwater.

Among the state’s water bodies, only the Chambal river basin has surplus water, but this water cannot be tapped directly because the area around the Kota barrage is designated as a crocodile sanctuary.

Through the help of diversion structures, intra-basin water transfers, linking channels, and building pumping main feeder channels, the ERCP aims to create a network of water channels that will cover 23.67 per cent of the area and 41.13 per cent of the population of the state.

An agreement has been reached between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh regarding the water distribution in the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP). In the presence of Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, and Rajasthan Chief Minister Bhajan Lal Sharma, along with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Dr. Mohan Yadav, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in Delhi. The agreement on the distribution of water from the rivers Parvati, Kalisindh, and Chambal was reached between the two governments on 28 Jan 2024.