The general perception of canal irrigation systems in India is one of built infrastructure with low service performance. This paper presents an analytical framework, applied to the Sina medium irrigation system in Maharashtra state of India, to study the performance of an expanded water influence zone (WIZ) including a buffer zone outside the canal command area (CCA) influenced by the irrigation system's water resources. The framework used satellite-based estimates of land-use and cropping patterns. The results indicate that there is hardly any gap between the irrigation potential created (IPC) and the irrigation potential utilized (IPU) in the CCA. The fraction of consumptive water use (CWU) of irrigation is low in the CCA, but almost one in the WIZ, due to the reuse of return flows in the WIZ. Future investments should focus on increasing economic water productivity ($/m3) in order to enhance the resilience of the farming community in the WIZ, which is frequently affected by water scarcity.


  • An expanded water influence zone shows a holistic approach to performance assessment of canal irrigation systems.

  • The satellite-based estimate shows the underestimation of the cropped area.

  • The consumptive fraction of water is high in the WIZ.

  • The assessment of an irrigated area and water-use efficiency requires a new direction.

  • Increasing economic water productivity is the way forward for water-scarce canal command systems.

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