Background history of Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department
The background history of the Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department has being improved continuously based on the irrigation work in Myanmar. Irrigation work has a long history in Myanmar, being practiced since the time of the Ancient Myanmar Kingdom of Pyu Dynasty which is more ancient than Bagan Kingdom Era. Meiktila Lake, Kinda and Nga Pyaung Diversion Weir in Kyaukse district, Old Mu Canal and Mahananda Lake in Shwebo district were monuments of ancient Myanmar irrigation works. Subsequent to the entry of British into Myanmar and attendant colonial period, a Public Works Department was established in the year 1861, for maintenance of building and construction of new irrigation facilities in Lower Myanmar. The activities relating to irrigation were solely handled by Chief Engineer of the Public Works Department. At that time, there was no separate Irrigation Department and only the Department of Public Works carried out the irrigation works.
After that, construction of infrastructure including roads and buildings as well as exclusive irrigation works implementation as Shwebo Canal, Mandalay Canal and Mone, Mann, Salin Canals were significantly accelerated. Moreover in the delta, there is more concern about drainage and flood protection and construction and maintenance works of embankments were conducted during 1881 and 1917. Meanwhile irrigation technology including water related science such as Hydrology, Hydraulic and Irrigation Engineering technologies were gradually improved. In 1917, Building and Road Branch and Irrigation Branch were established under the Public Works and managed by different Chief Engineer. In 1929, Public Works Department and Irrigation Department were established separately and aiming to carry out specific works.
After the First World War, Irrigation Department was extended for establishment of Divisional Irrigation Office in Upper and Lower Myanmar and Irrigation Department organized as two Divisional Irrigation Offices in each Upper and Lower Myanmar in accordance with the work load condition at that time. However, during Colonial Period 1930 – 1931, Global Economic Crisis occurred worldwide. By these affects, irrigation works also declined in country and two divisional offices were reduced. In doing so, Irrigation Department was organized as two divisional offices namely Irrigation Divisional Office in Upper Myanmar and Delta Divisional Office in Lower Myanmar together with (9) Nos of irrigation districts for undertaking irrigation works in Myanmar.
During the Second World War, while the British retreated from Myanmar, Myanmar Irrigation Branch was managed under the conduct of Agriculture and Rural Economic Department of India.
In 1963, irrigation works and government officials of Kachin, Kayah and Shan State were transferred to the Irrigation Branch. In 1966, Irrigation Department not only conducted Operation and Maintenance of existing Irrigation Facilities for agricultural development but also laid down new project formulation throughout the country. For that, Irrigation Department was expended its organizational frameworks.
In 1972, all departments and corporations under Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry were reorganized and Irrigation Branch together with Rural Farm Improvement Corporation and extension service for Farm Land Branch were combined and named as Irrigation Department.
And then Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was divided into two ministries as Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries on 15 May, 1983. In order to conduct and emphasize implementation and development works for the country more efficiently, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was divided into Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Forestry on 5th March, 1992. After that, Ministry of Agriculture was reorganized as Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation with composition of (11) Nos of departments on 7th August, 1996. Among them, Irrigation Department played a key role for supporting agricultural development through irrigation management. The Irrigation Department is headed by a Director General, composed of (6) primary branches and (7) other branches correlated to it. The primary branches constitute the Administration, Planning and Works, Procurement, Accounts, Design, and Works Inspection. The other correlated branches are Irrigation Technology Center ,investigation including Geology, Hydrology, Survey & Investigation, Drilling & Blasting, Mechanical and Hydropower respectively.
The normal (14) Maintenance Divisions of the respective States and Regions, have been supplemented with further establishments of (3) Maintenance Divisions which are Nay Pyi Taw, Shan State (Northern) and Shan State (Eastern) Division. And Thus, Irrigation Department has total (17) Maintenance Divisions, eleven Divisions are headed by Directors and six by Deputy Directors.
Additionally, there also exist (9) Construction Divisions. They are not State and Region-wise Locations, but remain sited in precincts adjacent to the construction works such as Hlegu, Pyay, Magway, Shwebo, Pyinmana, Yangon and Meiktila. (9) Divisions are under the control of Directors. Similarly (4) Mechanical Divisions, each under a Director have been established at Yangon, Taungoo, Magway and Mandalay, as appropriate adjacent to the construction projects under the administration of Chief Mechanical Engineer.
On 15 January of 2016, two departments, Irrigation Department and Water Resources Utilization Department were combined and named as Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. And then, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation was combined with Ministry of Cooperative and Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development and after reorganizing (3) ministries change into one ministry which is named as Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation on 1st April, 2016. Under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, total (13) Nos of departments are constituted and correlated each other including Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department. After State Administration Council was established, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation was divided into two as Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation and Ministry of Coorperative and Rural Development on 17 June of 2021. And Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation was reorganized with (9) Departments and (2) Universities including Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department .
Irrigation and Water Utilization Department has completed a total of (870) irrigation projects including (245) Reservoirs, (144) Weirs , (72) Lakes , (199) Sluices, and (210) pump irrigations at the end of March,2022. Department is undertaking supplying agricultural water and drinking water and generating hydro power from some reservoirs in accordance with the rules and regulations. There were also (230) Nos of Embankments with total length of (2519) miles which have been constructed to protect total effective area about (2.7) million acres including urban, rural and cultivable land from Flood and salinity intrusion.
Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation has accordingly been actively engaged in developing the agricultural sector in country and socio-economic life of people through ensuring agricultural water and domestic water used and protecting and mitigation of natural disaster in country.