"It was the vital need for irrigation facilities - to open new areas for a fledging paddy growing industry - that provided the impetus for the establishment of the Department ofÂ Irrigation and Drainage or the DID as it is popularly known."
Prior to the formation of DID in 1932, all works in connection with drainage and irrigation was related to by the Public Works Department. Following the slump in the tin and rubber industries in the late twenties and the worsening rice situation in the country, the then British High Commissioner appointed in 1930 a Rice Cultivation Committee to determine "the best steps to be taken in order to encourage rice cultivation in Malaya".
The Committee made a comprehensive survey and published its report in 1931. One of its main recommendations was "that an Irrigation and Drainage Department should be established which will execute in the Straits Settlement and Federated Malay States and advisory in the Unfederated Malay States, which will absorb the Hydraulics Branch of the Public Works Department, Federated Malay States". This recommendation was accepted as a separate department on the 1st. of January 1932.
During the first 10 years of the Department's existence up to the Japanese occupation, 20,000 hectares of new padi land were developed and improved, irrigation and drainage facilities were provided to some 50,000 hectares of existing padi lands. The Department took over the maintenance of drainage works on 40,000 hectares of estate and smallholder lands in Selangor and Perak.
Reconstruction of these works and their extension raised the total area to about 80,000 hectares in 1942. During the Japanese Occupation, little or no new development took place apart from the completion of some structures that were partly finished when the war broke out. In the drainage areas, neglect resulted in drains being siklted up and overgrown, and in some instances almost entirely filled up.
On the re-occupation of Malaya in 1945, emphasis was given to the rehabilitation of irrigation works. The established policy of the Government was to reduce the country's dependance on imported food supplies, with emphasis towards self-sufficiency in rice, and every effort was made to increase the local production of rice. Following the Independance of Malaya in 1957, greater emphasis was placed on increasing the income and employment opportunities of the rural poor.
With this objective, the irrigation and drainage programmes were formulated to provide adequate irrigation facilities to enable double cropping of padi lands, and drainage facilities for improved production of tree crops especially in small holdings.
Subsequent to the formation of Malaysia in 1963, additional State Drainage and Irrigation Departments were established in Sabah and Sarawak and this increased the number of State Departments to thirteen with the Federal Headquarters being responsible for the overall drainage and irrigation matters in the country. The significant increase in development since 1957 is reflected in the areas provided with irrigation facilities increasing from 205,000 hectares (3,000 hectares with double cropping facilities) to 332,000 hectares (249,000 hectares with double cropping facilities) by the end of 1981. The areas provided with drainage facilities, too, has increased from 142,000 hectares to 476,000 hectares in the same period.
In 1970/71, severe floods occurred in many parts of West Malaysia and the situation was so serious that a national disaster had to be declared on January 5th. 1971. Subsequent to this occurrence, flood mitigation and hydrology was made an additional responsibility of the Department from 1972 onwards.
From 1986, coastal engineering has become an added function of the DID. The River Management Conference was held on 1988, and a subsequent discussion by the Special Action and Management Committee lead to the establishment of the River Engineering Division (1990).
The Department has moved fromÂ Ministry of AgricultureÂ & Agro-basedÂ Industry Â (MOA) to Ministry of Natural Resource & Environment (NRE) on March 27th, 2004. The Department which is under the direction of the Ministry of Natural Resource & Environment, has over the years taken on new and expanded responsibilities. Today, the DID's duties encompass :
Â Â» River Basin Management and Coastal Zone
Â» Water Resources Management and Hydrology
Â» Special Projects
Â» Flood Management
Â» Eco-friendly Drainage
The DID can look back on its history of successfully executed programmes with pride. The experience and knowledge that it has gained, together with its current dynamism have placed the Department in the forefront as the guardian of the nation's water resources.