Agriculture is the mainstay of the Nepalese economy. As agricultural production depends on irrigation facilities, Government of Nepal (GON) has given top priority for the improvement and expansion of the irrigation facilities. To expand the irrigation facilities in the uncovered areas, Department of Irrigation (DOI) under the Ministry of Irrigation and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) as per the Agriculture Perspective Plan (APP) are implementing a number of irrigation projects all over the country. The Mahakali Irrigation Project (MIP) implemented in various phases (MIP, MIP-I, MIP-II, MIP-III) is one of such projects in the Far Western Development Region of the country.
The MIP-I and MIP-II have been developed under the funding of GON, and the International Bank for Reconstruction (IBRD) with irrigation coverage of 4800 ha, 6800 ha respectively. The Project area (Stage-I and Stage-II) is, at present, supplied with water from the Sharada Barrage, constructed in 1928, in accordance with the water sharing agreement made in 1920 between Government of Nepal (GoN) and the Government of India (GoI).
Project implementation of Mahakali Irrigation Project Stage I commenced in 1971 with the design and construction, by the Department of Irrigation (DOI), of the Main Canal, with a capacity of 13 m3/s, and a distribution system to irrigate a net area of 4,800 ha. Implementation of the main civil works down to tertiary level (both canals and drains) was completed in 1987.
Mahakali Irrigation Project Stage II has a gross command area of 9,700 ha (net 6,800 ha), comprising two parts – a small area of about 570 ha (net 400 ha) in Daiji Village Development Committee (VDC), adjoining Stage-I of MIP, and a larger area of about 9,130 ha (net 6,400 ha) lying some 15 km to the south of Stage-I, adjacent to the Indian border. This area occupies part of the VDCs Beldani, Routeli Bichawa, Rampur, Bilashpur, Sripur, and Laxmipur. The work was substantially completed in June 1998.
Now MIP-III is proposed for development under purview of a new Indo-Nepal treaty called “Treaty for Integrated Development of Mahakali River including Sharada, Tanakpur, and Pancheswor Multi-purpose Project.” signed on 12 February, 1996. The new treaty supersedes the old 1920 agreement. As per the provisions of the treaty, Nepal is entitled to draw 28.35m3/s of water from the Sharada Barrage during the wet season (i.e. from 15th May to 15th October) and 4.25 m3/s of water during the dry season (i.e. from 16th October to 14th May). The treaty also entitles Nepal to receive 28.35 m3/s and 8.5 m3/s of water from the Tanakpur Barrage during the wet and dry seasons, respectively. The new treaty further entitles Nepal to obtain 10 m3/s of water throughout the year to provide irrigation to Dodhara-Chandani area, located on the western bank of Mahakali River, while a minimum of 10m3/s will be released throughout the year into the Mahakali River, downstream of the Sharada Barrage in order to guarantee a stable environment. In case the Sarda Barrage becomes non-functional due to any cause, Nepal shall have the right to a supply of 28.35 m3/s and 4.25 m3/s of water from the Tanakpur Barrage during the wet and dry seasons, respectively in addition to the water to be supplied to Nepal from Tanakpur Barrage under normal condition. For this purpose, India shall construct the head regulator(s) near the left undersluice of the Tanakpur Barrage and also the waterways of the required capacity up to the Nepal-India border. Such head regulator(s) and waterways shall be operated jointly. A summary of the water distribution in the different seasons is given in the following table.
Barrage Wet Season (15 May - 15 Oct)
m3/s (cusecs) Dry Season (16 Oct - 14 May)
m3/s (cusecs)
1. Under Normal Conditions
Tanakpur Barrage
To Tanakpur Main Canal (TMC) 28.35 (1,000) 8.50 (300)
Sharada Barrage
To existing M-1-C 28.35 (1,000) 4.25 (150)
To Dodhara-Chandani 10.00 (350) 10.00 (350)
To Mahakali River 10.00 (350) 10.00 (350)
Total 76.70 (2,700) 32.75 (1,150)
2. Sharada Barrage not functioning
Tanakpur Barrage
To Tanakpur Main Canal (TMC) 56.70 (2,000) 12.75 (450)
To Dodhara-Chandani (via Sharada Canal) 10.00 (350) 10.00 (350)
To Mahakali River 10.00 (350) 10.00 (350)
Total 76.70 (2,700) 32.75 (1,150)