Modernising irrigation in Odisha

Project:
Modernising irrigation in Odisha
Working to transform the irrigation sector in Odisha into a modern and responsive system

India’s Odisha State (known as Orissa until 2011) depends on agriculture as its main employer, and approximately 73% of the workforce are involved in the sector. As such, the government of Odisha was keen to thoroughly modernise and restructure its complex irrigation sector, particularly the dominant, state-controlled Orissa Lift Irrigation Corporation (OLIC). The scale of the challenge was due not only to the vital role which OLIC played in ensuring food production levels were sufficient for the state’s needs and income, but also due to its position as one of the state’s largest public enterprises with over 10,000 employees.

Our role focused on setting a strategic direction for OLIC and the wider industry, a process which included change management within the company and more generally, with us overseeing the creation of some 10,000 rural water users associations and migration of responsibilities to these associations. The team oversaw the transfer of ownership, operation and maintenance of the irrigation schemes after rehabilitation from OLIC to the new associations.

Our team addressed challenges such as persuading the associations to take these responsibilities from OLIC and trained them to manage their affairs, thus downsizing OLIC by several thousand employees, making it considerably more efficient.

Furthermore, we managed a £4m pump rehabilitation fund, oversaw the rehabilitation of irrigation facilities in the aftermath of a hurricane and implemented central purchasing and tendering processes, ensuring that the agricultural productivity of Odisha remains as high as possible.