You are on page 1of 339

About The Institution of Engine e rs (India)

The Institution of Engineers (India) [IEI] is the largest multidisciplinary professional body of engineers that
encompasses 15 engineering disciplines and provides engineers a global platform to share their professional
interest. It also has the distinction of producing the maximum number of engineers in the core engineering
disciplines, thus augmenting the nation building efforts. To promote the general advancement of engineering and
engineering science and their application in India and to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas on those
subjects amongst the members of and the persons attached to the Institution. Established in 1920 with its
headquarters in Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta), IEI was awarded the Royal Charter in 1935. The grant of Royal Charter
to IEI constituted IEI as a BODY CORPORATE endowing its corporate members the status of Chartered Engineers.
Since inception, this unique professional body has come a long way in rendering yeoman service to the nation in the
field of Technology, Research and Development, Non Formal Engineering Education, Rural Development and critical
issues such as Global Warming and Environmental Protection amongst many such other issues. Today, its request for
professional excellence has given it a place of pride in almost every prestigious and relevant organization across the
globe. The Institution is working in close collaboration with Indian National Academy of Engineering, The Institution
of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers, The Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers, The Indian Institute of
Metals, The Institute of Marine Engineers (India), Computer Society of India, The Aeronautical Society of India &
many others promoting and advancing the science, practice and business of engineering in all its branches in the
country. The Institution has grown up with the presence of more than 100 State and Local Centres throughout the
country. It also boasts of having membership strength of more than nearly Six million Members. The Institution has
further extended its services to the international community with five overseas chapters at Abu Dhabi, Bahrain,
Dubai, Kuwait and Qatar. In the international arena, IEI has bilateral relations with 26 engineering organizations
worldwide such as, World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), Federation of Engineering Institutions
of South and Central Asia (FEISCA), Federation of Engineering Institutions of Asia and the Pacific (FEIAP),
Commonwealth Engineers Council (CEC), Federation of International du Beton ( fib ), World Mining Congress (WMC),
Engineers Mobility Forum (EMF) and many more. Out of 15 Engineering Divisions, Civil Engineering has found one of
the strongest Divisions where Corporate Membership is high.


About the Division Board
The Institution of Engineers (India) has established Civil Engineering Division in the year 1954. This Division consists of quite a large number of
corporate members from Government, Public, Private sectors, Academia and R&D Organizations
.Various types of technical activities organized by the Civil Engineering Division include All India Seminars, All India Workshops, Lectures, Panel
Discussions etc., which are held at various State/ Local Centres of the Institution. Apart from these, National Convention of Civil Engineers, an
Apex activity of this Division is also organized each year on a particular theme approved by the Council of the Institution. In the National
Convention, several technical sessions are arranged on the basis of different sub-themes along with a Memorial Lecture in the memory of “Dr K L
Rao ”, the eminent Civil Engineer of the country, which is delivered by the experts in this field.In order to promote the research and developmental
work taking place in the field of civil engineering, the Institution also publishes Civil Engineering Division Journal quarterly in a year, where
mainly the researches and its findings are focused. Due to multi-level activities related to this engineering discipline, this division covers different
sub-areas such as
X Disaster Mitigation Engineering
X Advanced Construction Technologies
X Tunnel Boring
X Precise Design Criteria for High Rise Buildings in Tsunami-prone Areas of the Country
X Disaster Mitigation
X Mechanisation in Construction Industry
X Cost Effective and Eco-friendly Construction Technology
X Influence of Large Dams
X Rapid Transit System for Medium Cities
X Quality Management System in Construction
In order to promote the research and developmental work in the field of Civil Engineering, the Institution also publishes Journal of The Institution
of Engineers (India): Series A in collaboration with M/ S Springer which is an internationally peer reviewed journal. The journal is published four
times in a year and serves the national and international engineering community through dissemination of scientific knowledge on practical
engineering and design methodologies pertaining to Civil, Environment, Agriculture, and Architectural engineering.
Annual Technical Volume

The I nstitution of Engineers (I ndia)

Civil Engineering Division Board
M essage from. .

I am proud to know that Civil Engineering Division Board of the Institution has
published the first Annual Technical Volume on the theme, “Traditional Irrigation Syste ms in
I am very much happy to learn that total 51 number of articles have been received for
this volume, which are all related to irrigation systems in our country. It is commendable that
the Chairman, Civil Engineering Division Board (CVDB) could encourage the contributors from
various states such as, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana,
Tamilnadu, Manipur, West Bengal, Haryana and Rajasthan who shared their experiences in this
field, which are quite informative and valuable for the practicing engineers in the field of
irrigation. This volume consists of general ideas of irrigation system having the cost effective,
sustainable and pragmatic methodology applied in traditional irrigation systems. It is well
known phenomenon that there are various regions which are having several climatic condition
due to differences in temperature, altitude and rainfall. As a result, the climate is drastically
varying from one place to another especially in northern Himalayan regions, southern coastal
regions as well as dry western & central regions. These methods of traditional systems of water
utilization have overcome many difficult situations over several decades in different places of
the country.
I am proud to know that our learned Corporate Members have contributed their
experiences of irrigation systems in this Volume and the Technical Department of the
Institution has made all liaisons with them.
I must congratulate all Members of CVDB for their whole hearted supports in bringing
out this Annual Technical Volume. I am also grateful to Mr Narendra Singh, Chairman, CVDB and
his team at Uttarakhand State Centre of the Institution for their extensive efforts to publish this
volume. I am confident that the readers will definitely be benefitted for further improvement in
irrigation systems of our country.

H C S Berry, FIE
M essage from. .

It is enriching to learn that the Civil Engineering Division Board of The Institution
of Engineers (India) has successfully brought out its Annual Technical Volume on the
theme, “Traditional Irrigation Syste ms in India” as per decision of 126th CATE and
682nd Council Meetings held at Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh in the month of June, 2014.
This volume is a collection of the papers from the Corporate Members of the Institution
who are in the field of irrigation systems.
I congratulate the Chairman and the Members of the Civil Engineering Division
Board for their sincere efforts to bring out this fine collection of articles. I believe that this
compiled volume will be helpful for the academicians and professionals, which will
stimulate further researches into this emerging field of technology.

N R Bandyopadhyay, FIE, PhD (Engg.)

Committee for Advancement of Technology & Engineering (CATE)
The Institution of Engineers (India)
Annual Technical Volume
“ Traditional Irrigation Systems in India”

Dr Ambrish Kumar Narendra Singh, FIE

Member of Executive Committee Chairman
IEI – Uttarakhand State Centre Civil Engineering Division Board, IEI

Civil Engineering Division Board (CVDB) of The Institution of Engineers (India) was taken a
decision to publish the first 'Annual Technical Volume' on “Traditional Irrigation Syste ms in India”.
Council of the Institution at its 682 meeting approved the publication of Annual Technical Volume
by each Division Board covering articles of practicing engineers & technologists in their own fields. This
volume is related to various aspects of irrigation and its allied branches contributed by practicing
engineers and academicians in their respective fields. Undoubtedly, it is a unique initiative being taken
with the objective of documenting innovative ideas, methods and techniques developed in different subject
domain and bring them out in a book form so that the concerned stakeholders may update themselves in
the field of irrigation. This document reflects views and long experiences of engineers working in the
design and development domain and of academicians and researchers as well, which needs to be up-scaled
in larger areas to benefit the farming communities.
This volume may be useful in guiding the irrigation project implementers at various spatial scales,
which is envisaged under recently lunched ' Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana ' with the motto of ' Har
Khet Ko Paani'. There is a need for seriously considering all options including linking of rivers, wherever
feasible; for ensuring optimal use of water resources to prevent the recurrence of floods and droughts.
Harvesting rain water with the pointed objectives of ' Jal Sanchay' and ' Jal Sinchan ', will nurture water
conservation and ground water recharge.
Due to various changes occurred in the irrigation fields at different States of the country, CVDB has
decided to publish the Annual Technical Volume on the theme, “Traditional Irrigation Syste ms in India”.
We are fortunate enough that the Corporate Members of the Institution have contributed their experiences
at this domain in this volume. Total 51 numbers of articles have been published in this book, which are very
much knowledge oriented and would be helpful in improving the existing condition of the irrigation
We are grateful to all the contributors to this Volume for sharing their innovative ideas and
experiences on irrigation development and management in the country. We hope the readers will
definitely be benefitted by the ideas, experiences and techniques compiled in this compendium and it is
useful to the engineering community in particular and to the society in general.

Narendra Singh, FIE

Annual Technical Volume of Civil Engineering Division Board, Vol.I, 2015-16

President Editor
Mr H C S Berry, FIE Mr Narendra Singh, FIE, Chairman, CVDB

Secretary and Director General- I/ c Associate Editor

Dr Anil Kumar, FIE Dr Ambrish Kumar, FIE
ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil &
Chief Editor Water Conservation, Dehradun
Prof N R Bandyopadhyay, FIE, Chairman, CATE

Members of Editorial Board

Mr Ashok Kumar Basa, FIE, Past President & Member, CVDB Mr Sisir Kumar Banerjee, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr Ved Prakash Bansal, FIE, Member, CVDB Mr Vinod Kumar Birthire, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr M B Dagaonkar, FIE, Member, CVDB Mr Gulam Mohd Dar, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr S J Desai, FIE, Member, CVDB Mr C M Dharmalingam, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr P S Gahlot,FIE, Member, CVDB Mr Janak Raj Garg, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr V S Ghogare, FIE, Member, CVDB Mr Arvind Kumar Gupta, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr M K Jadav, FIE, Member, CVDB Mr D K Kashyap, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr Jahnabi Konar, FIE, Member, CVDB Mr Kishore Kumar, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr V Vijaya Kumar, FIE, Member, CVDB Mr Archan Kusum Majumdar, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr Jagdish Mohan, FIE, Member, CVDB Mr A K Mitra, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr L M Patra, FIE, Member, CVDB Dr I Satyanarayana Raju, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr Shivanand Roy, FIE, Member, CVDB Prof Ramesh Harilal Shah, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr Parminder Singh, FIE, Member, CVDB Mr G Sudhakar, FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr P N Tandon, FIE, Member, CVDB Mr H O Thakare , FIE, Member, CVDB
Mr Sandeep B Vasava, MIE, Member, CVDB

Dr Anil Kumar, FIE, Secretary & Director General-I/c Edit orial Team
for The Institution of Engineers (India) Technical Department, IEI
Publication Office Mr S Chaudhury
The Institution of Engineers (India)
8 Gokhale Road, Kolkata 700020 Mr N Sengupta Mr K Sen Dr S Ghosh
Ph : 2223-8311/14-16/33-34 Mr T Chakraborty Ms A Dutta Ms S Biswas Sett
Fax : (033) 2223-8345 Mr Partha Mukhopadhyay Mr T K Roy Mr S Bagchi
web : http : Ms H Roy Ms N Sikdar Mr P Mukhopadhyay
e-mail :

The Institution of Engineers (India), 8 Gokhale Road, Kolkata 700020, as a body accepts no responsibility for
the statements made by individuals in the paper and contents of papers published herein.

The Institution of Engineers (India) subscribes to the Fair Copying Declaration of the Royal Society. Reprints
of any portion of the publication may be made provided that reference thereto be quoted.

Printed at Florence Offset Process Pvt. Ltd., 6A, S. N. Banerjee Road, Kolkata 700 013
Post Independence Scenario in Irrigation Sector in India –Need for Private Participation 17
S. K. Mazumder
Depleting Ground Water Replenishment through Recharge 25
H. S. Chauhan
Irrigation Group Wells in India: A Disregarded Ground Reality 31
R. V. Rama Mohan
Traditional Irrigation Systems in India 40
S. Debnath
Traditional Irrigation Systems in India 46
K. P. Tripathi
Traditional Irrigation Systems of India 57
S. K. Srivastava, R. Singhal
Irrigation Scheduling Systems: Principles and Applications 66
P. K. Singh, S. K. Mishra, A. Kumar
Status of Irrigation Efficiency in India 85
A. Pandey
The Great Ganges Canal of Northern India 93
S. C. Goyal, N. Singh, N. K. Yadav
Land Evaluation for Capability, Irrigability and Suitability for Major Crops and its Management 103
H. C. Sharma, A. Kumar
Traditional Irrigation Systems in Himachal Pradesh 111
N. P. S. Nagi, S. K. Mahammad Sartaj Basha
Sustainable Water Resource Management for Efficient Irrigation System 117
A. Kumar, B. L. Dhyanil, P. K. Mishra
Micro Irrigation in Uttarakhand: Status, Scope and Design Considerations 124
P. K. Singh
Irrigation Systems in Uttarakhand: A Case study 131
T. Raina
Rejuvenation of Hill Channels in Uttarakhand: An Cost Effective Approach 135
R. Kumar
Effective Modification in the Traditional Tapping and Irrigation Techniques for 138
Agricultural Sustainability in Himalayan Region
A. K. Vashisht, H. C. Sharma, R. S. Negi
Traditional Irrigation Systems in Punjab 147
M. L. Ohri
Aspects of Irrigation Systems in Haryana – An Overview 154
N. Singh
Water Harvesting Systems in Central Highlands 159
O. T. Gulati
Appraisal of Kelia Irrigation Systems – A Boon for Tribal part in South Gujarat Region 162
B. V. Bhatt
Conventional and Modern Irrigation System of Gujarat 170
S. K. Shah
System and Present Scenario of Irrigation in Maharashtra 175
V. Ghogare
Traditional Irrigation Systems in Maharashtra 189
P. Jayakumar
PHAD System of Irrigation in Maharashtra 197
A. Suryavanshi
Traditional Rainwater Harvesting System in Hot Arid Zone of India 203
R. K. Goyal, R. K. Singh, P. R. Ojasvi
Traditional Irrigation Systems in Rajasthan: A Review 206
H. Sharma
Water Harvesting System in Thar Desert Region 209
C. V. Nadpara
Traditional Irrigation Systems in South India with Special Reference to Andhra Pradesh & Telangana 214
C. L. N. Sastry
Traditional Irrigation Methods in Telengana State 220
S. V. M. Rao
Wind Powered Water Pumping Systems for Irrigation in Pudukkottai Region 227
Preethika D., Loganayaki S., Ananth S.
Traditional and Modern Irrigation Systems in India 230
A. K. Murthy
Traditional Irrigation Systems in Tamil Nadu 234
A. Veerappan
Methods and Systems of Irrigation in Tamil Nadu 241
R. Paranthaman
A Study on Effective Utilization of Reclaimed Water for Landscape Irrigation in Technical Institution 246
V. Karthikeyan, R. Lavanya
Traditional Irrigation Systems Adopted in Tamil Nadu 251
S. Jayalekshmi
Surface Irrigation Systems in Tamil Nadu 253
B. Srinivasan
Traditional Irrigation Systems in Kerala 260
E. J. Joseph
A Traditional Farming System – Kuttanad, Kerala 268
S. P. Abraham
Traditional Irrigation Methods with Special References to the 273
Ernad, Valluvanad and Palaghat Region of Malabar
Abdulla P. K.
Traditional Irrigation Systems of Kerala 279
Deepu M. R.
A Holistic Approach for Harnessing and Management of Water 283
Resources for Enhancing Agricultural Productivity in Eastern Region
R. C. Srivastava
Traditional Irrigation Systems in Odisha 289
S. Mahapatra
Rivers of West Bengal 295
S. S. Ganguly
Traditional Irrigation Systems in Bengal Delta 301
T. Sanyal
Brief History of Origin of Irrigation in India 304
S. C. Pal
Irrigation System and Water management in India 308
S. Basu
Jharkhand: Water Resources Scenario 312
S. Roy, O. Nath
Traditional Irrigation Systems of Northeast India 315
M. K. Goyal, T. Das, D. Das, S. Gupta
Irrigation Systems in Manipur 320
A. D. Singh
Retrofitting of Irrigation Structures – Prakasam Barrage, Andhra Pradesh: A Case Study 322
I. Satyanarayana Raju
Water Resource Development Planning and Management for Island 325
Ecosystem – A Case Study for Andaman & Nicobar Islands
R. C. Srivastava
Post Independence Scenario in Irrigation Sector in
India – Need for Private Participation
S. K. Mazumder
Former AICTE Emeritus Professor
Delhi Technological University, New Delhi

Although India has made substantial progress in irrigation sector after independence, the performance of many
of the projects is not satisfactory due to various factors discussed in this paper. There is a huge wastage of water
principally due to poor on-farm irrigation management and the wrong pricing policy resulting in low irrigation
efficiency. There is an utter need for private participation in irrigation sector for better management and
efficiency. Some of the constraints of private participation have been highlighted. Some important role
consultants can play in the public-private-partnership (PPP) model, as in roads sector, have been outlined.
Keywords : Irrigation schemes, Efficiency of irrigation, Pricing of water, Private participation

Introduction mha area under irrigation in India today, 58 mha is by

major and medium surface irrigation schemes , 15 mha
After independence in 1947, most of the irrigated land
area is by surface minor irrigation schemes and 40 mha
went to Pakistan. In the year 1951, when first five year
is by minor ground water schemes (IWRS-2007).
plan started, India had a population of about 300
Because of the timely irrigation development, India is
million and the area covered by irrigation was only 23
self sufficient in food today, producing 250 Mt of food
million hectares (mha) producing 90 Mt of food
grains for our 1200 million people. Figure 1
grains.Alarge number of irrigation schemes have been
(Maumder, 2002) shows the projected growth in
completed over the years to assure firm water supply
population, food grain production and irrigated area
to the agricultural community. Out of a total of 113
up to 2050.

Figure 1 Growth of population, food production and irrigated area in India during 1951-2050

Annual Technical Volume 17

It has been estimated (Iyer,1989) that by the year 2025, determined by author, was found to vary from 18.6% to
the total utilizable water resources of India (1100 38.8% (Mazumder, 1984). Most of the irrigation water
mcum) is going to be almost the same as the total was found to be lost in conveyance and field
demand from different sectors (1050 mcum). Demand application and extremely poor management of water
for irrigation water (840 mcum) has been steadily (Mazumder,1986) at the farm level. Bharat Singh
rising due to population growth and food requirement. (1991) while emphasizing the present day need of
It may be seen from Figure 1 that the irrigation intensive irrigation for maximizing yield per unit of
potential of 113 mha is going to remain constant unless area, identified the following major shortcomings of
long distance water transfer schemes (IWRS, 1996) at our present irrigation schemes:
a huge cost are implemented to bring an additional
¨ Gap between the creation of irrigation potential
area of 35 mha under irrigation. Therefore, the only
and its utilization
way the country can feed the people in future is
through greater productivity of land with double or ¨ Unreliable and inadequate supply
triple crops on the same land for which more irrigation ¨ Inequitable distribution of water between head and
water is needed. tail enders.
¨ Non-responsive and authoritarian administration
The efficiency of water use of most of the surface
¨ Lack of control and increasing malpractices
irrigation schemes, which consumes about 80% of our
utilizable water resources, must be improved to ensure ¨ Low efficiency of canal systems and poor on farm
productivity of agricultural land per unit of area, unit management of irrigation water.
of water and unit of time. At present, overall efficiency Planning Commission (1992), Government of India,
of irrigation in India is about 35% which is too low recognized the three major shortcomings responsible
when compared with the figures of 75% in Japan and for poor performance of irrigation schemes, namely,
55% in China. Even a marginal increase in irrigation
¨ Unlined channels
efficiency will cause substantial savings of water
which can be either diverted for other uses or more ¨ Lack of land consolidation, improper leveling and
agricultural land can be brought under irrigation with sizing of irrigated land
the same amount of available water. Unlike other ¨ Improper on farm management of irrigation water
commodities like electricity, drinking water etc., water beyond outlets.
for irrigation is currently distributed almost free of Zimermann (1966) examined several drawbacks of
cost. The present irrigation water rates are extremely protective type extensive irrigation practice being
low. Whereas during the British days, 87% of the followed in India where available water is spread over
overhead and maintenance costs of irrigation schemes vast areas through a widely spaced unlined canal
used to be realized from irrigation revenue, today the networks. Most of the water in such a system is lost in
revenue receipt is so low that it can hardly meet 15% of conveyance and most of the remaining water is lost
maintenance cost of the projects. The cost of operation because of inefficient irrigation management
and maintenance, administrative and depreciation cost (IWRS,2007).
and the interest on borrowed capital are being
Wastage of Irrigation Water
subsidized by the government (Mohile,1984). Many
of the irrigation projects which were our national Compared to minor surface and ground water
assets are soon going to be our national liabilities if the irrigation (mostly at farmer's control), wastage of
present situation continues. Some of the early storage water in major and medium schemes (under
projects are fast loosing their live storage capacity due Government control) is much more. The conveyance
to siltation (CBIP,1994) requiring dredging at losses in different stretches of the irrigation canal
enormous cost. system is shown in Table 1 (CWC-1995). Some of the
principal reasons of wastage of irrigation water are
Performance of Irrigation Schemes in India
discussed in the following sections.
The overall efficiency of irrigation projects (also
Unlined Canal Systems
called project efficiency) in India is too low at an
average of 35% in the case of major and medium Permissible velocity in unlined canals (depending on
irrigation projects (INCID, 1998). The average project the type of soil) is quite low compared to lined ones. As
efficiency in three major river-valley projects, a result, time of travel from the storage reservoir to the

18 Annual Technical Volume

Table 1 Conveyance losses in main canal and branches in expertise and enlightened farmers receiving proper
India training. Design assumptions, design inputs,
Type of In North As found by a sub- Purna construction quality, operation and maintenance of the
Canal India committee for MP, Project projects are interrelated and govern reliability and
UP, and Maharashtra
adequacy of irrigation (Thatte, 2000, Bharat
Main Canal 17% 25% N.A.
Branches 8% 20% 20% Singh,1991).
Distributaries 20% 20% 20% Water Pricing and Realisation of Irrigation Rate
Total 45% 65% N.A.
Because of the prevalent policy of charging irrigation
farm lands are considerably high resulting in greater water (Planning Commission,1992) on the basis of
losses due to seepage and evaporation. Due to lack of area, the farmers at the head end have a tendency to
proper maintenance, most of open canals have draw as much water they can without bothering for
luxurious growth of weeds and water hyacinth which those at the tail end of canals. Volumetric
evapotranspires more water. measurement (Mazumder,1999) of irrigation water
supplied to farmers and charging irrigation rate on the
Poor on-Farm Irrigation Management basis of actual consumption are the best way to
There is hardly any on-farm development e.g. land achieve higher irrigation efficiency and reduce
consolidation, shaping and leveling of land, lining of wastage of water. For equitable and scientific
watercourses and field channels, farm roads, service distribution of water amongst the farmers and
tanks etc. Lack of proper irrigation scheduling results realization of irrigation rate, considerable cooperation
in colossal loss of irrigation water diverted from and understanding are needed between the supplier
outlets. Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, (1979) and the consumers of water. As in most cases of our
,Government of India have found that most of the public life, there is utter confusion and lack of clarity at
water released from irrigation outlets go waste due to the consumers level wherever the government tries to
uncertainty of delivery and lack of preparation of land, control.
inefficient method of irrigation application (e.g. wild Average productivity of land in India is found to be
flooding and basin flooding), unlined water courses only about 2.0 T/ha in irrigated areas and 1.0 T/ha in
and field channels, improper scheduling of irrigation rain fed un-irrigated areas (Prasad –2000). It is too low
as per soil-water -plant relations (Mazumder,2007), when compared with the yield of about 5 to 6 T/ha in
existing practice of charging irrigation rate on area developed countries like Japan, USA, Canada,
basis in many a projects, absence of proper forecast of Australia etc. Cost of irrigation projects, on the other
rainfall and pre-irrigation soil moisture content . hand, is increased several times due to long time
INCID (1998) in its report found that in major and overrun, escalation in price and rampant corruption at
medium irrigation projects, less than 50% of water all levels in the Government departments. Considering
released from the storage reservoir reaches the outlets. the heavy investments (from Rs. 4.42 billion in 1st
Further loss occurs at farm level due to lack of plan to about Rs. 2,320 billion in 11th plan ¾ center
technical know how for efficient application of and states together), it is extremely important for a
irrigation water. developing economy like India, to carry out critical
Inadequate and Unreliable Supply at the Outlets review of the financial performance of all irrigation
To be of greatest use to the crops, the irrigation schemes.
application must be timely and in quantities adequate Revenue return from irrigation schemes may be taken
to meet the consumptive requirement of crops at any as the gross receipts from the scheme which may be
given stage of growth. In large irrigation projects, due to (i) sale of water to farmers i.e. irrigation rates;
where it takes several days for the water to reach from (ii) sale of hydro- power; (iii) navigation receipts;
the storage/diversion works to the farm point, the (iv) proceed from plantations; and (v) irrigation cess
timely supply of water in required quantities are and different kinds of levies. Working expenses
uncertain. Operation of the irrigation system, mostly include (i) direction and administration; (ii)
done manually, is dependent on so many factors machinery and equipment; (iii) extension and
related to man, machine and structures. Proper improvement; (iv) operation, maintenance and repairs
irrigation scheduling and its delivery by rotation need works etc. Average (of 15 states in India) year-wise

Annual Technical Volume 19

Figure 2 Aveage Year-wise percentage recovery of working expenses for 15 states in India

recovery of working expenses as percentage of O & M so far been governed by highly subsidized supply-
costs of irrigation projects is shown in Figure 2. management policies. Maintenance of infrastructure
According to a compilation made by Central Water built at enormous cost is severely constrained due to
Commission (CWC 1990) on financial aspects of shortage of funds resulting in all round deterioration in
irrigation, the total deficit in the year 1986-87 alone the performance of irrigation projects. Examples of
was found to be of the order of Rs.120 billion. cost and time over- run in the case of a few irrigation
Unrecovered costs are subsidies. But one must not projects in India are given in Table 2.
assume that this subsidy accrues only to users of
Need for Private Participation in Irrigation Sector
irrigation. Part of it represents the cost of inefficiency
due to poor planning, design, operation and Need for limited private participation and consultancy
maintenance of the irrigation system. Objective in irrigation management arises due to the following
should be to reduce government subsidy, improve facts:
efficiency and effectively manage irrigation ¨ With the increasing costs of irrigation
water(Mazumder, 2013). Indian Water Resources development (from Rs.42,750/- per ha during 7th
Society in its theme paper on ‘Water: Vision 2050’ plan to 1,00,000/- per ha during 10 th plan) and
(IWRS, 1999) state ‘Water resource development has because of its overall resource crunch, Govt. alone
Table 2 Cost and time overruns in a few irrigation schemes in India
Project Budget Year Budget (Rs. ´106) Increase on Original Budget Comments
Indira Sagar 1984-85 13928.5 Estimated cost for earliest
1988-89 21676.7 56% time of completion.
1993-94 34967.9 151%
2004-05 75000.0 438%
Onkaleshwar 1984-85 5780.00
1988-89 19092.50 230%
1993-94 40000.00 592% Ditto
Maheshwar 1985-86 2412.70
1993-94 8240.00 242%
2004-05 23000.00 853% Ditto
Sardar Sarowar 1984-85 42400.00
1986-87 64066.40 51%
1992-93 131806.20 211%
2004-05 275000.00 549% Ditto

20 Annual Technical Volume

can not bear the responsibility of providing food Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE-
security for the rising population. 2008) observed that water management and
¨ Govt. allocation is inadequate to meet the water use efficiency need to be improved in all water-
expenditures even for the ongoing irrigation use sectors to optimize productivity. Out of the several
projects resulting in spillover of the projects with recommendations made by the experts, one important
consequent time and cost over-run. In many a recommendation is regarding public-private
cases, the entire investments made by the partnership (PPP) in water sector for efficient
Government are lying idle. management of water. To generate funds and provide
incentives for private investments, one of the ex-
¨ In case of completed projects too, fund allocation
secretry, Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India,
is extremely inadequate to meet the expenditures
recommended levying 10% tax on all cold drinks and
of O&M, operation, modernization, depreciation
bottled mineral water and transfer it to irrigation sector
etc. resulting in poor irrigation efficiency and
in a manner similar to transfer of oil cess to road sector
huge wastage of water in transportation and field
application (Mazumder, 2002) Some Constraints and Limitations of Privatization
Govt. allocation in irrigation sector has reduced over Even though there are a number of benefits of private
the years because of the increasing demand of fund for participation in irrigation management,, there are
development of other infrastructures, for example, several constraints and limitations for private
roads, railways, industies etc. participation as follows:
Consultants – both public and private - can play major ¨ Water is far more basic than any other
role in improving professional management skills and commodity. Control and ownership of water is a
provide better and efficient services, introduce latest very sensitive issue. Private companies will be
technology for fast development and optimal interested in investment only when they own it
utilization of limited water resources of our country and sell it to realize costs from consumers. This
(Mazumder, 2010). may result in so high price of water which the
Need for Private Participation in Irrigation poor and disadvantaged section of our society
Management may not afford.

Private participation has been encouraged by the ¨ Unlike other commodities which can be supplied
Ministry of water resources (MOWR), Goverment of as per demand, there is a lot of risks in irrigation
India. In section 12 and 13 of the National Water water supply due to unpredictable nature of
Policy (MOWR,1987), it is stated ‘private sector rainfall which is the principal source of irrigation
participation in planning, development and water in India.
management of water resources may help in
¨ Unless there is business ethics and a national
introducing innovative ideas, generating financial
outlook, private sector may try to exploit the
resources and introducing corporate management and
irrigation water to maximize their profit and
improving service efficiency and accountability to
corner as much wealth as possible for their
users’. The Planning Commission, Govt. of India
personal benefits irrespective of long term
(2002), in section VIII (infrastructure) of its 10th five-
environmental damage.
year plan (2002-07) document mentions “Despite
massive investments and impressive achievements, a ¨ Many of the private contractors in water and other
lot more investment is needed to fully harness the sectors carrying out construction/operation of
available irrigation potential. The unit cost of projects/industries have a tendency to bribe
irrigation development is nearly Rs.1,00,000/- per ha authorities to avoid strict adherence to
of CCA. This is so high that even recovery of interest specifications, rules and regulations laid down by
on capital from the service is difficult, unlike many the Govt. for long term benefit to the society.
services which are able to pay for themselves with or
¨ Except a few, most of the private organizations in
without some incentives or subsidies. Hence the
India are accustomed to perform only routine
desirability of mobilizing financial resources from the
type jobs in a haste. They are reluctant to invest
private sector which will ensure better irrigation
enough money and time for quality up-gradation
efficiency and better service’.

Annual Technical Volume 21

of the employee (Mazumder, 2008) through and micro irrigation projects as well as in areas like
R&D. operation, delivery, flow-metering, billing, collection
of water tariff etc. beyond the distributory canal
Considering the above constraints, a high power
system in the major and medium projects. PPP is most
committee appointed by Govt. of India, recommended
suitable in water conservation and preservation of
private participation in irrigation for some pilot
small scale water bodies like springs and wells, tanks
projects on a selective basis. The committee further
and ponds, nallas and small streams, drainages,
recommended that the Govt. must exercise its full
recycling and re-use of domestic and industrial
control as regulator- economic and environmental.
sewage etc. as suggested by Vasimalai (2004),
Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in Irrigation executive director, DHAN foundation.
Role of Consultants in Irrigation Management
PPP is a mode of implementing government
Consultants can play a very important role in the
program/schemes in partnership with private initiative
service sector in bridging the gap between private
through corporate bodies, WUAs, NGOs, initiative and public responsibility and in allaying the
cooperatives, self help groups, individual partnership fears of both the government and the private bodies.
farms, voluntary organizations, community Development of consultancy profession in India has
development centers etc.. The objective of PPP as been quite significant during the last few decades.
opposed to privatization is to improve the Consultancy Development Center (CDC), Consulting
performance within the existing realm of public sector Engineers Association of India (CEAI), Engineering
responsibility for the quality of services provided.. Council of India (ECI) under the Department of
It is apparent that under the existing conditions, the Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) of the
Govt. can not give legal ownership right and its Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India,
regulatory capacity of irrigation water to the private have data base of consultants/consultancy farms - both
sector due to several socio-economic-political public sector undertakings and private organizations.
constraints. On the other hand, the private sector may - covering areas like agriculture and rural
not be interested to make any large scale investments development, banking and finance, construction and
in major and medium irrigation schemes due to very construction management, health and education etc. In
high cost, long gestation period, uncertainty and risks the water sector, there are both public undertakings
involved. (e.g.CBIP, NHPC, WAPCOS, NPCC, EIL, EPIL,
MECON STUP etc.) and private consultants (e.g. J P.
There is a growing realization that given their
& Associates, TCS, L&T, Jacob-CES, DHI, ICT,
respective strengths and weaknesses, neither the
public sector nor the private sector alone can deliver
etc.) who offer consultancy services in water sector in
the goods to the people in the best interest of
India and abroad.Consultants face steep competition
agriculture and irrigation. It is a fact that the irrigation
amongst themselves for wining projects by projecting
water supply provided by the government through its
bio-data of their experts who act as key persons in the
own departments has almost failed to meet the
various disciplines to prove their capability and
requirements resulting in sufferings of people,
worthiness. Consultants have also to train their
especially in rural and semi-urban areas where 70% of
engineers to efficiently perform the various jobs
our population live.
assigned to them by the team leaders and specialists to
PPP is a middle path solution, a joint venture of public complete the project in a time bound, cost effective
and private sector, where each partner brings inputs and efficient manner to the satisfaction of their clients.
like finance, technology and management practices. They help in identification and cross fertilization of
Together they work for achieving a common goal and best practices, development of best strategy, analytical
in doing so they share the risks and benefits jointly. techniques and soft wares, technology up gradation,
PPP enables the government to retain a better control innovative ideas, application of latest R&D and best
on the service than what would be possible without management practices to establish their credibility.
government's involvement. However, because of the Many times, a consultant associates with other
sensitivity associated with water, PPP schemes in consultants of repute from India and abroad or
irrigation management are much more complex outsource a part of the job where they lack in necessary
compared to other sectors. PPP is welcome in small expertise and experience.

22 Annual Technical Volume

Collaboration strategies of consultancy organizations on Challenges in the Management of Water Resources
in India have been discussed in depth by Diwan (1999) and Environment in the Next Millennium - Need for
in a national workshop on ‘Challenges in the Inter- Institute Collaboration, org. by Deptt. of Civil
Engg., Delhi College of Engg., ISH and IWRS,
Management of Water Resources and Environment In
Touchstone Publisher, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New
tThe Next Millennium’ - organized by Delhi College Delhi, October 8-9, 1999.
of Engineering (now Delhi Technological University)
6. Water Resources Management - Role of Water Sector in
in association with Indian Water Resources Society
India, Indian National Academy of Engineers (INAE),
(IWRS) and Indian Society for Hydraulics (ISH). IIT Delhi, February 21-22, 2008.
Summary and Conclusions 7. Sprinkler Irrigation in India, Indian National
India has successfully completed a large number of Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (INCID),
Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India, 1998.
irrigation schemes after independence. This has
definitely helped us in meeting the challenge of food 8. Role of Water Resources Development and
production for our ever-increasing population. Many Management in Bharat Nirman, theme paper presented
on Water Resources Day observed by Indian Water
of the major and medium schemes are, however,
Resources Society (IWRS) at ICID, New Delhi, May 9,
operating at poor efficiency due to high conveyance 2007.
loss and poor on farm irrigation management.
9. ‘Water Vision 2050’, prepared by CWC & pub. by
Irrigation rate and the realization of rate are too low to IWRS on the occasion of Water Resources Day, at New
meet even the working expenses. Many of the projects Delhi, March 22, 1999.
which used to be national assets are fast becoming
10. Inter-basin transfer of water for national development-
national liabilities. There is a need for public- private- problems and Prospects, theme paper pub. on water
partnership in better management for efficient resources day by IWRS, New Delhi, 1996.
utilization of water for irrigation which consumes
11. S. S. Iyer, Water Resources of India – an Overview,
nearly 80% of our water resources. Consultants- both Journal of Indian Water Resources Society, Vol. 9, No.
public and private - can play a major role in bridging 2,April 1989.
the gap between private initiative and public
12. S K Mazumder, Use of an Innovative Proportional Flow
responsibility for overall economic benefits and meter for Improving Water Use Efficiency, presented in
prosperity of the country. the workshop on Water Use Efficiency organised by
Acknowledgement Indian Water Resources Society and Deptt. of Water
Resources Development and Management, IIT
Author wishes to thank M/s Aquagreen Engineering Roorkee, December 9, 2013.
Management, ICT, ITL and SWI Pvt. Ltd New Delhi, 13. S K Mazumder, Public-Private –Partnership in
for rendering help and co-operation in writing this Irrigation Management- Role of Consultants, J. of
paper. IWRS, Vol 30, No 3, July, 2010.
References 14. S K Mazumder, Quality Improvement through
Collaboration Between Educational, Research and
1. B Singh, Management of Irrigation in India – a
Consultancy Institutions in India, ‘Journal of
perspective, Water Management Forum, The
Consulting Ahead” by Consultancy Development
Institution of Engineers (India), 1991.
Center(CDC), January 2008.
2. Proc. of Workshop on Reservoir Sedimentation org.
15. Mazumder, Irrigation Engineering, Galgotia
jointly by Central Board of Irrigation and Power
Publications, 5, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi
(CBIP) and Irrigation Deptt., Govt. of Karnataka, 17-
110 002, 2007.
19 May, 1994.
16. S K Mazumder, Performance of surface irrigation
3. Report of the working group on Major and Medium
schemes in India, Proc. of All India Seminar on Water
Irrigation Programme for Eighth Plan (1990-95)”,
and Environment - Issues and Challenges, org by IWRS
published by Central Water Commission (CWC), New and WRDTC, IIT Roorkee, October 2002.
Delhi, 1995.
17. S K Mazumder, I Deb Roy, Improved Design of a
4. Financial Aspects of Irrigation and Multipurpose River Proportional Flow Meter, ISH Journal of Hydraulic
Valley Projects, pub. No. 74/90 by Central Water Engineering , Vol. 5, No. 1, March 1999.
Commission (CWC), New Delhi, 1990.
18. S K Mazumder, Irrigation Water Management, Int.
5. P L Diwan, Collaboration Strategies and Weaknesses of Seminar on ‘Water Management in Arid and Semi Arid
Consultancy Organizations in India, Proc. Workshop Zones’HaryanaAgri. Univ. Hissar, Nov. 27-29.

Annual Technical Volume 23

19. ‘National Water Policy’ pub. by Ministry of Water 2007), Govt. of India, Section-VIII, Infrastructure
Resources, Govt. of India, 1986. Irrigation, Flood Control and Command Area
20. S K Mazumder, Efficiency of Irrigation in the Development, 2002.
Command Areas of DVC, Mayurakshi and Kangsabati 26. Planning Commission, Govt. of India, Report of the
projects in West Bengal, Proc. National Seminar on Committee on ‘Pricing Irrigation Water’, New Delhi,
Water Resources Management for Rural Development, 1992.
KNIT, Sultanpur, Oct. 18-19, 1984. 27. R S Prasad, Integration of Drainage, Flood Control and
21. Manual on Reclamation and Management of Water Management in Alluvial Plain in India, Proc. 8th
Waterlogged and Salt Affected Areas in Irrigation ICID International Drainage Workshop, Vol I, Regional
Commands ( MOWR), New Delhi, 1995. Experiences, New Delhi, 2000.
22. Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Govt. of India, 28. C D Thatte, S A Kulkarni, ‘Status and Strategy for
Manual on ‘Irrigation Water Management’, 1979. prevention and Reclamation of Waterlogged and Salt
23. A. D. Mohile, C. Subhas, S. N Singh, Financial affected land from Irrigated area of India’, Proc. 8th
performance of Major and Medium Irrigation Projects” ICID Int. Drainage Workshop Organised by INCID and
Proc. on Fifth National Water Convention, Org. by WAPCOS , New Delhi, 235-252, 2000.
National Water Development Agency, Ministry of 29. M P Vasimalai, Public-Privte Partnership for
Water Resources, Govt. of India, Faridabad (Haryana), Conservation of Tanks, Ponds, Streams and Springs - a
Feb 25-27, 1994. Way forward, Proc. of Water Summit 2004, Org. by
24. National Water Policy, Ministry of Water Resources, FICCI, New- Delhi, November 2004.
Govt. of India, New Delhi, September 1987. 30. J D Zimmerman, Irrigation, John Wiley & Sons, Wiley
25. Planning Commission, Tenth Five Year Plan(2002- International Edition, 1966.

24 Annual Technical Volume

Depleting Ground Water Replenishment through
H. S. Chauhan
Former Dean, College of Technology and Post Graduate Studies
Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and
Technology Pantnagar, Uttarakhand

Because of seepage through unlined canals and heavy and inefficient irrigation the water table has been rising in
some commands in the country. Also there has been a decline of water table in Western Uttar Pradesh, some parts
of Punjab, Haryana and other states because of indiscriminate use and heavy withdrawals of ground water with
the adoption of high-water demanding cropping system, growth of industries, and increasing population. In the
present paper, water availability situation, declining water table, scope of artificial recharge, ground water
recharge techniques and experiences have been discussed.

Introduction WaterAvailability Situation

It has been observed that there is a misbalance in This would reduce available water in agricultural
supply and demand of water in many irrigation sector and thus percentage area under irrigation. Water
command areas. Because of seepage through unlined quantum as already stated is about 70% of total
canals and heavy and inefficient irrigation the water withdrawal worldwide. Irrigation covers about 250
table has been rising in some commands. Also there mha, that is, 17% of the worlds arable land but
has been a decline of water table in Western UP, some responsible for 40% of crop output and employs 33%
parts of Punjab and Haryana and other states because of population in rural areas. Classes of water shortage
of indiscriminate use and heavy withdrawals of ground have been ranked according to per capita Annual Water
water due to adoption of high-water demanding Resources (AWR) in each country. In 1990, 18
cropping system, growth of industries, and increasing countries were severely water scarce which may
population. The ground water development was become 30 by 2025. Most of these countries are located
intensive in the alluvial areas of Indo-Ganga-Yamuna in Asia and Africa already facing food shortage. More
plains of Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan, which than one billion people including one-third population
accounted for more than 85% of utilizable ground of China and India live under water scarcity.
water potential. If there can be a planned and regulated Decreasing water availability for agriculture is likely
use of surface and ground water a stable ground water to increase from its value in1995/97 till 2030 only by
table can be maintained. With normal use sufficient 12%. To meet water demands for agriculture irrigation
ground water recharge takes place from canal seepage efficiency need to improve from present 43% to 50%
return flow and irrigation. Replenishment also takes by 2030.
place from rainfall. A regulated use of canal water for
Declining Water Tables
irrigation and supplementing irrigation from ground
water may be broadly termed as conjunctive use. The indiscriminate exploitation of ground water is
leading to water table decline. The water table decline
Ground water reservoir provides subsurface storage at
has been occurring at a fast rate in many states in the
fewer costs, which provides relief from dam failure,
country because of various reasons, though mostly it is
lean rainfall or drought years. In order to maintain
due to increased intensity of cropping and a misbalance
equilibrium between availability and withdrawal of
in recharge and withdrawal, but a peculiar phenomena
ground water suitable and economical recharge
has been observed that it is increasingly being
techniques need to be adopted. There is a large scope of
observed in areas where a high evapotranspiration
ground water augmentation through artificial recharge
demanding crop like rice has been introduced in a big
in different hydro geological terrains of the country.
way. Such examples have been more prominently
Ground water and tube well development can be done
observed in Punjab Haryana and UP. This decline rate
at faster rate to alleviate emergent irrigation. It has
can be arrested or contained by recharging ground
several advantages against surface supplies such as
water by different available recharge techniques. Some
lack of evaporation, percolation and pilferage.

Annual Technical Volume 25

aspects of this issue have been highlighted below: and river pumping the poor aquifers. The similar
Taneja and Sondhi’s studies it is estimated that the area problem seems to prevail in Chhattisgarh where about
under water table depth less than 5 m has reduced from more than a lakh farmers are using irrigation pumps
37.5% to 23.6% whereas under 5 to 10 m depth it has with the possibility of doubling to bring about a
increased from 42% to 54.30%. The area with water revolutionary change. The best remedy for
table depth more than 10 m has also increased. Chhattisgarh seems to be water harvesting and
Computation by Gupta, et al (1998) shows that judicious use of ground water because of little recharge
percentage area with a falling water table. In Punjab it practically taking place otherwise they may have
was 92.5% in the foothill zone, 99.8% in the central similar problems likeAndhra Pradesh.
zone and 63% in the southwest zone. The highest rate International Scenario of Water Management
of water table fall of 4% has occurred in the central
zone. About 31% of this area has registered a water Countries with largest irrigated areas (ICID, 2002) are
table fall of 22 to 33 cm/year. According to agricultural presented in the Table 1.
expert Johl, 80% of water requirement is met by World Water Forum Views on Water Management
ground water. It is facing multiple crises in the form of
fast deteriorating soils depleting water table degrading According to Schultz, et al (2004) at Hague, life
agro ecology and increasing economic squeeze. One environment in the 21st Century with its vision on
may cite the sad conditions of rural debt ground water water for food and rural development indicated a
depletion and farmer suicides. Hari Kishen Pura is one required duplication of food production in coming 25
of the 200 villages in Punjab that has been blacklisted years. Even after realization of irrigation potential
by government banks as unfit for rural credit. about 50% of Indian agriculture will remain
Collective debt is about 400 crores the Nainital district unirrigated. Therefore, all steps and strategies that help
of Uttar Pradesh is about 6792 km2 in area. It consists in enhancing conservation of water such as ground
of three zones namely, Hill, Bhabar and Tarai zones. water recharge, efficient irrigation water management
The artesian wells constitute one of the main sources and watershed management would assist in enhancing
of irrigation in the Tarai Belt of Nainital district in the irrigated area and play an important role in Indian
Uttar Pradesh. A considerable reduction in discharge agriculture. Some such aspects are discussed below:
has taken place. Not only the discharge but also the l Agriculture is the largest consumer of water
piezometric head of artesian aquifer which was accounting for 72% of the total withdrawals for the
observed to be more than 9 m above the ground level in world at large. The average irrigation efficiency of
the sixties has now reduced to about 2 m. the world is 37% (if efficiency can be raised by10%
As per the Sharma and Kaushik report (1998) quoting the total conserved water will equal to the water
CGWB’s national report of ground water resources of required in the world for all the other uses).
India, 249 blocks / mandals / taluks / watersheds falls According to Martin Smith (2000) sustainable
under over exploited category (utilization greater than food production will depend on the judicious use of
100%) and 179 blocks / mandals / taluks / watersheds water resources to meet future food demands.
fall under dark category (utilization greater than 85% l This would require an increase in water
but less than 100%) in 12 states of the country namely, productivity by the increasing water use efficiency.
Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka,
Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab,
Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. For tapping Table 1 International Scenario of Water Management
water in these areas it would require deepening of tube Country Population Population, Total Arable Irrigated
well. While the numbers of over exploited and dark (a´106) ´106 Area, Land, Area
blocks were 253 in 1985 it went up to 428 in 1999 and Agriculture, ha ´106 ´106
if this was not reversed it could double in next 12 % ha ha
years. The 10th plan reported that out of 5711 blocks / India 998 55 329 170 59
China 1267 68 960 135 53
mandals / taluks / watersheds spread over 470 districts, USA 276 2 936 179 21
310 were in over exploited category and 160 were in Pakistan 152 51 80 22 18
dark category. Andhra Pradesh in many areas with Iran 67 28 163 18 8
over exploitation of ground water, the water tables Mexico 97 24 196 27 7
were declining fast and besides becoming unfit for Indonesia 209 45 190 31 5
agriculture they were becoming insufficient even for Thailand 61 50 51 20 5
Russia 147 11 1708 128 5
drinking water. The then new Chief Minister Sri Uzbekistan 24 28 45 5 4
Rajshekhar Reddy told in a press club that one of the Total 3298 - 4658 735 185
biggest mistakes were over exploitation of tube wells World 5978 - 13,387 1,512 271

26 Annual Technical Volume

It is estimated that this would require irrigation support for modernization and reclamation, increased
efficiency to be improved from present 43% to stakeholders participation, transfer of systems or of
50% by 2030. This would in consequence require responsibilities modernization, and cost recovery
reducing irrigation water losses by introduction of
appropriate technologies such as drip and sprinkler Scope ofArtificial Recharge In India
Irrigation and on the other hand adopting India has varying hydro geological situations. The
improved water management such as precision potential areas having favorable hydrological and
land leveling and better design of surface hydro geological conditions for creation of subsurface
irrigation. storage in different parts of the country are as given
l Adopting natural and artificial ground water
recharge methods: Doon Valley
v In highly permeable strata and good rainfall In Doon valley, highly permeable boulders and gravels
like foothills, various surface-spreading provide a good scope for artificial recharge of ground
techniques could be tried. water reservoir. Surface water spreading techniques
like flooding, ditch and furrow, recharge basins and
v Percolation tanks constitute a good potential
stream modifications are feasible.
of ground water recharge.
Mountain Fronts
v Construction and rejuvenation of village
ponds Sub-montane region of the Himalayas fringing the
Siwalik hills, termed as Bhabar or Kandi is a steeply
v Recharge through wells
sloping belt of less than 10 to 30 km width, extending
v Recharge from artificial and natural drains discontinuously from Jammu and Kashmir to Assam.
The Bhabar-Tarai belt in Uttaranchal and Kandi-
v Ground water recharge through watershed Sirowal tract in Jammu outer plain and Bist Doab in
management Punjab offer an excellent set up for mega recharge
Samra (1997) showed the rise of ground water table projects.
with surface storage capacities created, because of Foothill Alluvial Tract of North Gujarat and Satpura
integrated watershed management. It was also Mountain Front
analyzed and calculated that the largest agricultural
area was without any water management system. The Satpura and Aravalli mountain front has a large
About 90% of the increase in production had to come potential for artificial recharge from surplus monsoon
from the existing cultivated lands and only 19% from runoff, which would benefit alluvial aquifers in the
new land reclamation. In the rain fed areas without southern part of the Purna and Tapi basins and deeper
water management water harvesting and watershed aquifers of North Gujarat area.
management may improve livelihood of poor farm Cavernous Limestones
families. But much increase in production is not
expected. For this the share of irrigated and drained The cavernous limestone tracts in drought prone areas
land has to be increased. This would require installing like Kurnool, Cuddaph and Anantpur district of
irrigation and drainage systems in areas without a Andhra Pradesh, Raipur, Durg, Rajnandgaon, Bastar
system, improvement or modernization of existing districts of M.P., Yavatmal district of Maharashtra and
irrigation and drainage system, installing irrigation Bilara, Jodhpur district of Rasjasthan are favourable
systems in rain fed areas and drainage systems in for ground water recharge. An appropriate
combination of check dams and percolation ponds are
irrigated areas. As per Dr Samra view, in next 25 years
suitable recharge structures in these areas.
there has to be a shift of contribution to total food
production as about 30% for the areas without a water Consolidated Formations of Peninsular India
management system, 50% for the areas having an
In Peninsular India, most of the basins have more than
irrigation system and 20% in rain fed areas with a
80% of the area under these formations. In the Deccan
drainage system. It will however be difficult to achieve Trap basalts, presence of thick weathered residuum,
it in an environmentally sustainable way in emerging vesicular horizons, fractured or faulted zones and
developing countries. In emerging developing inter-trappean beds offer possible storehouse for
countries the improvement of irrigation and drainage recharge. Integrated watershed management is very
system would encounter certain issues as increase in effective for conserving and augmenting ground water
efficiency and water saving, institutional reforms for resources in these environments.
stakeholder controlled management and government

Annual Technical Volume 27

Scope of Storage of Monsoon Runoff in Subsurface ground water conservation structures like ground
Reservoirs water dams, roof top rainwater harvesting and
rainwater runoff harvesting, subsurface dykes or
As per Das, et al (1996) the surplus monsoon runoff
locally termed as Bandharas, are quite prevalent to
available for creation of subsurface ground water
arrest surface or subsurface flows. Similarly in hard
storage in 20 river basins has been estimated as 86.47
Mha-m. The subsurface storage potential of vadoze rock areas rock-fracturing techniques including
zone beyond 3m below ground level of 20 river basins sectional blasting of boreholes with suitable technique
has been estimated as 59.06 Mha-m of this the has been applied to interconnect the fractures and
retrievable storage works out as 43.64 Mha-m The increase recharge.
total available monsoon runoff is 86.47 Mha-m which Experience ofArtificial Recharge
should be able to meet the water requirement of 59.06
Mha-m to create the ground water storage. But there is Construction of Percolation tanks, Check dams,
a wide variation in the basin wise availability of runoff Subsurface dykes, Underground Bandharas,
and subsurface storage potential. The feasible ground Infiltration galleries and different types of weirs
water potential has been estimated as 23.9 Mha-m. besides watershed management and rainwater
The retrievable ground water storage works out as harvesting through other traditional methods etc. have
17.5 Mha-m. These estimates are based on the in situ been prevalent in various parts of the country
utilization of available monsoon runoff in each basin. especially in the state of Maharastra, Andhra Pradesh,
Considering in an approximate way a net requirement Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
of 0.5 m/ha the ground water storage created would be Experiments for recharge through injection
capable of irrigating additional 35 Mha. wells/recharge wells, hydro fracturing of bore wells
has also been attempted. A brief review of case studies
Artificial Ground Water Recharge Techniques and experience gained in various part of the country is
The artificial recharge techniques can be broadly presented below.
categorized in four groups as: Sikka, et al (1998) mentioned significant lowering of
(i) Direct surface techniques, ground water levels in most parts of the Delhi during
past two decades and suggested de-watering and
(ii) Direct subsurface techniques, refilling of unconfined aquifer system underlying the
(iii) Combination of surface and subsurface Yamuna flood plain, roof top rain water harvesting,
techniques, and construction of small check dams at favorable
locations, recharging through on-channel storage of
(iv) Indirect techniques. water, recharge structures such as dug wells and
Direct surface techniques include: village ponds. Chauhan and Upadhyaya (1998)
categorized ground water recharge in three forms as
(i) Flooding,
(i) recharge due to rainfall,
(ii) Basins or percolation tanks,
(ii) recharge due to irrigation and return flows, and
(iii) Stream augmentation,
(iii) artificial recharge.
(iv) Ditch and furrow system, and
Taneja and Sondhi (1998) also emphasized the need of
(v) Over irrigation. recharge in Punjab where water table is declining at
Direct subsurface techniques include; the rate of 23 cm/year in sweet water zones of the state.
According to them excess water available in rivers,
(i) Injection wells or recharge wells, drains and as surface runoff from land should be
(ii) Recharge pits and shafts, recharged into the aquifer. Recharge measures
suggested to be undertaken are:
(iii) Dug well recharge,
(i) recharge from east and west drains (drains
(iv) Bore whole flooding, and flowing in Doab region and ending in river),
(v) Natural openings, cavity fillings. (ii) recharge from existing drains,
Basin or percolation tanks with pit shaft or wells is an (iii) construction of water harvesting tanks in
example of combination of surface and subsurface villages,
techniques, whereas induced recharge from surface
water source and aquifer modification are the indirect (iv) recharge through fields by raising bunds
techniques of artificial recharge. Besides above, the around rice fields,

28 Annual Technical Volume

(v) recharge through wells, feasible in high reaches of watershed where natural
depressions to store surplus water are available and the
(vi) construction of check dams on streams in
submergence area is underlain by highly weathered
kandi areas of state,
and fractured rocks.
(vii) use of treated sewage water, and
Rao, et al (1998) reported that both in red soil and
(viii) recharging through canal network during black soil areas of Andhra Pradesh, the rainwater
monsoon. harvesting structures (check dams) with storage
capacity in range of 0.02 to 0.134 mcft contributed to
Khepar, et al (1998) reported that there is a great additional ground water recharge, rise in water levels
potential for artificial recharge through the drainage and improvement in well yields.
system in Punjab. A case study conducted at Rohti
drain revealed that by constructing series of check Thambi, et al (1998) reported that subsurface dykes
structures across the drain at suitable intervals and are ideal ground water storage structures for Kerala,
provision of recharge shaft under specific particularly along the higher elevations where wells
hydrological conditions enhanced the recharge go dry during the summer. Since individual land
capacity of drains. holding is very small, subsurface dykes can be
beneficial when it is accepted for community
Raju (1998) pointed out that in the state of Gujarat irrigation projects.
there are thousands of tanks including minor irrigation
projects, which are either defunct or their capacity has The above case studies indicate that while planning for
reduced due to silting. He suggested that top priority artificial recharge in the area, one should not only
should be given to revive these structures. In the areas consider the hydro-geological conditions of the area
having deep water table, percolation ponds with but the economics of recharge option also. If the
recharge tube wells are suggested, whereas in the benefits exceed cost incurred in recharging and
rivers of North Gujarat subsurface dykes for artificial transmission layer up to aquifer exists, only then one
recharge may be appropriate. Das (1993) reported that should select the particular recharge option and that
injection well method appears to be more practical in area for recharging.
recharging deeper confined aquifers in Central Concluding Remarks
Mehsana area of Gujarat.
Artificial ground water recharge is necessary to
Bagade (1998) studied the possibility of artificial control:
recharge in Maharashtra state and suggested that for
the high rainfall area along Western Ghats, roof top v the declining ground water levels,
harvesting of rainwater and construction of recharge v over-exploitation of ground water resources,
pit and spring development is the most feasible v sea water intrusion, and
recharging technique. In alluvial areas of Tapi river v degradation of ground water quality.
basin artificial recharge through construction of
There are various regions in India, where ground water
spreading basin, recharge shafts, injection wells, and
levels are depleting very fast and need attention of
dug wells has been proposed. In the areas with over
planners for developing some control measures. In
development of ground water in unconfined or semi-
order to maintain equilibrium between availability and
confined aquifer, contour bunding, nala bunding or
withdrawal of ground water suitable and economical
gully control, and percolation tanks etc are
recharge techniques need to be adopted. While
recommended. In over-exploited deeper confined
planning for artificial recharge in the area, one should
aquifers, bore hole injection technique to provide
not only consider the hydro-geological conditions of
direct access to the deeper aquifers is recommended.
the area but the economics of recharge option also. If
Jain and Jain (1998) studied the possibility of artificial
the benefits exceed cost incurred in recharging and
recharge in Nagpur city, Maharashtra and found that
transmission layer up to aquifer exists, only then one
artificial recharge through recharge wells using
should select the particular recharge option and that
surface runoff has immense scope for implementation
area for recharging. There is a large scope of ground
keeping in view the land use and hydro-geological
water augmentation through artificial recharge in
setup. It is one of the most effective alternatives for
different hydro-geological terrains of the country.
mitigating the pollution observed in ground water of
Case studies and experiences on recharging under
the city. Sharma and Mehta (1998) concluded that in
various hydro-geological conditions in different parts
hard rock basaltic terrain of Maharashtra construction
of the country and abroad are available. These
of cement plugs or check dams on first and second
experiences should be used as guidelines for
order streams is the best method to augment the
developing appropriate strategies for artificial
ground water reservoir. The percolation tanks are

Annual Technical Volume 29

References Water Resources, New Delhi, April 29-30, 1983, 317-
1. S.P.Bagade, Artificial recharge techniques in different
hydro geological environments in the state of 11. J.Mohan, Water management in eastern Ganga canal.
Maharashtra, Proceedings of Seminar on Artificial Proceedings of the Third Afro Asian Regional
Recharge of Ground Water, New Delhi, December 15- Conference, ICID, New Delhi, 1980, 195-208.
16, 1998, IV-45-57 12. R.N.Pandit, Conjunctive use of ground water in surface
2. D.K. Chadha, S.K. Sharma, U.Kapoor, Artificial irrigation systems- Performance in Haryana,
recharge-concept and remediation to ground water Proceedings of Seminar on Ground Water Development
quality, Proceedings of seminar on Artificial Recharge –A perspective for year 2000AD.Organised by Indian
of Ground Water, New Delhi, December 15-16, 1998, Water Resources Society, Roorkee, Dec19-20, 1983,
III-71-85 281-292
3. D.Chandra Sekharan, R.K.Shivanappan, Case study 13. K.C.B.Raju, Case study of ground water recharge in
recharging ground water in Coimbatore district, Gujarat state, India, Proceedings of Seminar on
Proceedings of the Third Afro Asian Regional Artificial Recharge of Ground Water, New Delhi,
Conference ICID, New Delhi, 1980, 228-237 December 15-16, 1998, IV-25-43
4. H.S.Chauhan, A.Upadhyaya, Water conservation 14. P.B.Rao, P.S.Prasad, S.I.Ahmed, Techno-economic
through watershed management - ground water recharge feasibility of artificial recharge studies in different
and its efficient use, Proceedings of seminar on Artificial geomorphic unit of Anantapur district of Andhra
Recharge of Ground Water, New Delhi, December 15- Pradesh, India, Proceedings of seminar on Artificial
16, 1998, II-57-65. Recharge of Ground Water, New Delhi, December 15-
16, 1998, VI-7-15
5. S.Das, Hydro-geological considerations for recharging
coastal aquifers. Proceedings of Workshop on Artificial 15. S.C.Sharma, Artificial recharge of ground water in
Recharge of Ground Water in Coastal Aquifers, Gujarat. Proceedings of First National Water
Bhubaneswar, March 27-28, 1993, 1-34. Convention, New Delhi, 1987, III45-50
6. S . D a s , S . R o m a n i , S . K . S h a r m a , M . M e h t a , 16. S.K.Sharma, Management techniques in artificial
Y.J.Parthasarthi, Storage of surplus monsoon runoff in recharge, Proceedings of seminar on Artificial Recharge
subsurface natural reservoirs in India, Proceedings of of Ground Water, New Delhi, December 15-16, 1998, II-
Sixth National Water Convention Organized by 1-10
National Water Development Agency, Ministry of Water 17. S.K.Sharma, M.Mehta, Artificial recharge for ground
Resources at Bhopal, MP, January 4-6, 1996, 55-63. water sustainability in basaltic terrain - a case history,
7. S.K.Jain, P.K.Jain, Rainwater management for ground Proceedings of Seminar on Artificial Recharge of
water recharge in urban inhabitation - a case study for Ground Water, New Delhi, December 15-16, 1998, VI-
Nagpur city, Maharashtra, Proceedings of Seminar on 29-48
Artificial Recharge of Ground Water, New Delhi, 18. V.M.Sikka, S.B.Singh, D.Chakraborty, S.K.Mohiddin,
December 15-16, 1998, V-55-65 D.Singh, NCT of Delhi – a test field area for artificial
8. S.D.Khepar, S.K.Sondhi, M.Siag, J.K.Chawla, Need recharge studies, Proceedings of Seminar on Artificial
and scope for artificial recharge of ground water through Recharge of Ground Water, New Delhi, December 15-
surface drainage systems in Punjab, Proceedings of 16, 1998, I-31-46
Seminar on Artificial Recharge of Ground Water, New 19. D.S.Taneja, S.K.Sondhi, Need, scope and measures for
Delhi, December 15-16, 1998, IV-117-128 artificial ground water recharge in Punjab, Proceedings
9. G.P.Kruisman, N.A.De Ridder, Analysis and Evaluation of Seminar on Artificial Recharge of Ground Water,
of Pumping Test Data, International Institute for Land New Delhi, December. 15-16, 1998, I-63-71
Reclamation and Improvement; Wageningen, the 20. D.S.Thambi, A.Subbaraj, A.N.Bhowmick, Techno-
Netherlands,1970 economic feasibility and performance evaluation of
10. O.P.Mathur, Artificial recharge studies in the Ghagger ground water storage (artificial recharge) structures in
river basin Haryana, Proceedings of Seminar on Kerla. Proceedings of Seminar on Artificial Recharge of
Assessment Development and Management of Ground Ground Water, New Delhi, December 15-16, 1998, VI-

30 Annual Technical Volume

Irrigation Group Wells in India:
A Disregarded Ground Reality
R. V. Rama Mohan
Director and Team Leader (SuGWM Project)
Centre for World Solidarity (CWS)
Secunderbad, Telengana
* /

Sharing water for irrigation from wells jointly built and owned by groups of small farmers is a widely existing
traditional practice in India. As per the fourth Minor Irrigation Census (MIC) done by Ministry of Water
Resources, Government of India, there are 20,13,582 group wells in India during 2006-2007. Undivided Andhra
Pradesh occupied sixth position with 44,728 group wells. Sustainable Ground Water Management (SuGWM)
project enumerated a total of 571 existing group-owned wells in six of it’s project Gram Panchayats in undivided
Andhra Pradesh. In contrast, fourth MIC reported absence of any group well in the blocks where project villages
are located. This highlights the need for the MICs to be reformed for better accuracy. A sample study during
2011-2014, on 20 group wells with 50 farmers, revealed that average Rabi crop area under irrigation per farmer
increased dramatically by as much as 129% when these farmers were given sprinkler irrigation kits. Group well
farmers not only used water more efficiently but also shared water more equitably after using sprinkler irrigation
kits. Therefore, there is dire need to recognize the merits of group water sharing practice and offer additional
incentives to those farmers in the micro irrigation schemes.
Keywords : Group wells, Water sharing, Micro irrigation, Water efficiency, SuGWM project, Minor irrigation

Introduction for Water’ is also prevalent in many parts of India in

which water receiving farmer pays one-fifth to one-
Construction of wells by groups of small farmers and
third of crop output to the well-owning farmer for
sharing of water by and between them has been a
sparing water during a crop season. In contrast to the
traditional practice in India. There are broadly three
extensive studies and acknowledgement of water
types of such group wells in vogue even today in
markets in India, these traditional systems of water
several States of India. Following is their broad
sharing are a disregarded reality in practice as well as
policy spheres.
¨ Brothers or successor kin inherit a well and continue Minor Irrigation Census (MIC)(i) classifies ownership
to share water between them of wells under six major heads, namely, Government,
¨ Brothers or kin invest jointly in constructing new Cooperative Societies, Panchayats, Groups of
wells and share water from such wells Farmers, Individual Farmers and Others. Since 1986-
87, four censuses have been conducted in India, at
¨ Neighbouring small farmers join together and intervals of five years. The fifth MIC is currently
contribute the cost of construction and then share underway with reference year 2013-2014.
water among themselves
Group Wells in India
Normally, groups of two to ten farmers share the well
water through informally-developed norms. While As per the fourth Minor Irrigation Census 2006-2007,
some groups share water on a rotational basis, others Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Maharastra,
make a number of channels that divert the flows Madhya Pradesh and undivided Andhra Pradesh(ii) top
equally among the members of the group and irrigate the list of States with the highest number of group
the fields at the same time. Small and marginal farmers (i) Minor Irrigation Census is an exercise of enumeration of all minor
with small land-holdings (say, less than 0.5 ha), who irrigation sources in India every five years. The census is coordianted by
cannot invest on constructing wells on their own, are Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India
(ii) Andhra Pradesh state was bifurcated as Telangana and residual Andhra
the category of farmers who generally opt for these Pradesh on June 2, 2014. Prior to the birfurcation, the undivided Andhra
sharing arrangements. The practice of paying ‘Crop Pradesh state consisted of 23 districts

Annual Technical Volume 31

wells (Ministry of Water Resources 2006-2007). Enumeration of Group Wells in SuGWM Project
UndividedAndhra Pradesh stands at the 6th position in
S u s t a i n a b l e G r o u n d Wa t e r M a n a g e m e n t
terms of the number of such group wells
(SuGWM)(iii) is a project being implemented in six
notwithstanding a rapid decline from 1,37,919 in
Gram Panchayats (GPs) in Andhra Pradesh and
1993-94 to 44,722 in 2006-2007. All over India, there
Telangana states since July 2011. The focus of the
are 20,13,582 wells owned by groups of farmers, out
project is on building local systems of ground water
of which 17,21,345 are in use and rest are in
management through social regulations and involving
continuous dis-use. Total irrigation potential created
Gram Panchayats. The project addresses equity issues
by these group wells is 77,81,309 ha (Table 1).
in access to ground water for drinking and irrigation
These six states together account for a major share of through a unique blend of conditional subsidies, social
the country’s group wells (96.9% of total group wells regulations and technological innovations.
and 96.57% of group wells that are in-use). Undivided
In order to enhance the access of farmers to ground
Andhra Pradesh has the lowest percentage of wells in-
water, the project identified and strengthened existing
use compared to other States. This is a disturbing trend
traditional group well system mostly with kin-ship
pointing out to the urgent need for attention to the
based members but also with participation of a few
exploration of the possibilities of the revival of such
neighbourhood farmers. Changes in land ownership
transformed some kin-ship based wells into
MICs classify well into three categories, namely, dug neighbourhood wells over a few generations. New
wells, shallow tube wells (having depth less than 70 groups were formed by neighbouring farmers coming
m) and deep tube wells (having depth more than 70 m). together and investing on a common dug well or tube
Except in case of Haryana, dug wells (or open wells) well as irrigation source. While the project did not
occupy a major share of group wells in all the States provide any financial assistance for digging a well,
(Table 2) (Ministry of Water Resources 2006-07). partial financial support was provided to such farmers
Drying up of shallow dug wells due to increased to access Micro Irrigation (MI)(iv) units from various
pumping from tube wells and fall in shallow water Government schemes.
table might have resulted in a significant decline of
The findings of this enumeration of group wells by
functioning wells in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan
SuGWM project were revealing. Against the initial
expectation of hardly finding any functional group
Table 1 Group wells in six Indian states
Geographical Area Total Group Group Wells Age of Group Irrigation Potential Created
Wells in-use Wells in-use, % by group wells in-use, ha
India 20,13,582 17,21,345 85.48 77,81,309
Rajasthan 10,03,440 7,78,762 77.61 41,62,250
Tamil Nadu 3,19,210 2,80,355 87.83 5,53,493
Haryana 2,62,505 2,62,505 100.00 14,27,266
Maharashtra 2,47,691 2,43,239 98.20 6,85,730
Madhya Pradesh 73,671 72,917 98.98 2,08,666
Andhra Pradesh (undivided) 44,728 24,672 55.16 81,997
Total Group wells in top six states 19,51,245 16,62,450 85.20 71,19,402

Table 2 Classification of group wells in six Indian States as per fourth MIC
Geographical Area Dug Wells Shallow Tube Wells Deep Tube Wells Total Group Wells
Rajasthan 863600 63114 76726 1003440
Tamil Nadu 300333 3631 15246 319210
Haryana 1511 231820 29174 262505
Maharashtra 216138 11975 19578 247691
Madhya Pradesh 69569 1849 2253 73671
Andhra Pradesh (undivided) 32843 6763 5122 44728
Total 14,83,994 3,19,152 1,48,099 19,51,245

(iii) SuGWM project is supported by European Union (EU) and Bread for the World (BfdW). More information about the project available at
(iv) Micro irrigation is the method of water application directly to plant roots resulting in water saving and increased crop productivity. Sprinklers, drips and
rain guns are the three types of micro irrigation units that are very popular in India

32 Annual Technical Volume

well in the project GPs, 435 group wells (33% being It was also found that some farmers are part of more
open wells and rest tube wells) were enumerated than one well group in the same village. Also, change
covering 1190 farmers out of the 3,317 project target of land ownership due to selling by some members of
households. By March 2015, a total of 571 group- the groups resulted in some water sharing groups
owned wells were identified with 1608 farmers having farmers from different castes, religions and
depending on them for irrigation. villages. This fortuitous diversity in ownership is to be
welcomed. Oldest of the group wells is an open well
Due to intensive ground water recharge measures by dug in 1965 and most of the dug wells served three
the project, many defunct ground water sources, generations of farmers. Land fragmentation among
particularly dry tube wells, got revived and started brothers and kin resulted in smaller individual
yielding water. With increased yield from the revived holdings and greater number of farmers that each well
group wells additionally, by March 2015, as many as serves. Due to reduction in water yield in open wells,
74 groups of farmers (162 farmers) came together some of these groups dug tube wells in last 10 to 15
again and resumed irrigation from shared sources years and continued to share from both the sources.
lying defunct until that time. In addition, 123
individual farmers, who did not have their own well, Group Wells in SuGWM Project Villages as
joined existing water sharing groups and got access to Counted by MICs
irrigation water. Through RTI requests(v), the author requested
Water sharing farmers in group wells having micro Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, to
irrigation kits increased from 226 to 788 with the zoom-in at GP level and provide data related to group
support from SuGWM project and micro irrigation wells, specifically for the six GPs where SuGWM
schemes of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state project is being implemented. Following are the major
governments. As a result, agricultural land owned by points from the response received:
these group well farmers and cultivated using micro ¨ All ground water sources owned by more than one
irrigation methods increased to 2779 acres in March farmer are included under the definition of ‘group
2015 from a mere 327 acres in March 2012. wells’, and that group may or may not include
For the purpose of enumeration as well as supporting farmers in any family relationship
them in accessing micro irrigation kits, the SuGWM ¨ In undivided Andhra Pradesh, 13,372 group wells are
project was liberal in its definition of 'water sharing' by permanently not-in-use out of the total 44,728 group
groups of farmers. It is not only those groups of wells as per the fourth MIC done during 2006-2007
farmers who jointly-owned the wells which were
counted; the enumeration included also the ¨ Since information on Gram Panchayat is not
individually-owned wells which had water-sharing collected in the schedules of MIC , GP-wise number
between the owner and his fellow farmers. of group wells is not available
Nevertheless, it is important to note that the ownership
and the right to water entitlement on the well of the ¨ The information on number of farmers and names of
farmers in the group are customary in nature, with no farmers for each group of farmers was not collected
evidence on paper, in contrast to right on land. For all as a part of census and hence the information is not
official purposes, group-ownership of wells is not
formally recognized yet. The owner of the land in ¨ However, block level number of group wells for
which the well is located or the farmer on whose name second to fourth censuses is available as aggregate
the agricultural electricity connection of the well numbers for each of dug wells, shallow tube wells
exists, is being treated as the individual owner of the and deep tube wells.
well. An empirical analysis of composition of 571
group wells enumerated by the project revealed that, The block level data of group wells for project blocks,
100% of the these open wells and about 55% of tube as provided by the Ministry, offer intriguing insight. In
wells are jointly-owned by the farmers. contrast to a larger number of group wells found by the
SuGWM project in it's operational GPs, the above data
In case of many open wells in SuGWM project from the Ministry reported much fewer group wells in
villages and elsewhere in Anantapur district, farmers the blocks within which the project GPs are located
in the group have individual pump-sets and electricity (Table 3) (Ministry of Water Resources 1993-1994
connections. But, in Warangal district, farmers in 2000-01 2006-07). Second and third census data are
group mostly use a common pump-set and share the closer to each other, but fourth MIC reported a blank
pumped water through a system of channels (locally for number of group wells in all the project blocks.
called, Gandi) whose dimensions are proportionate to (v) F.No. I-11/2014-MI (Stat.)/ 288 and I-11/2014-MI (Stat.)/ 1131 of Minor
the area that it irrigates. Irrigation (Sat.) Wing, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India

Annual Technical Volume 33

Table 3 Total group wells in-use in SuGWM project blocks
District Block Wells Owned by Groups of Farmers
Second MIC Third MIC Fourth MIC
Total In-use Total In-use Total In-use
Anantapur Garladinne 4 0 6 6 0 0
Singanamala 6 1 0 0 0 0
Gandlapenta 401 292 338 252 0 0
Nallamada 345 275 353 291 0 0
Warangal Lingala Ghanpur 2 1 97 93 0 0
Total 758 569 794 642 0 0

Total group wells are zero during 2006-07, which of the well is considered, only part of the land
leaves us to interpret that all the groups of farmers that belonging to group of farmers gets the eligibility, even
existed earlier disintegrated by 2006-07. Despite the though farmers could irrigate entire pool of land on
normal annual rainfall during 2005-06 (1147 mm) and rotation basis. When group well farmers together
2006-07 (858 mm), the data reported none of the group apply for MI units, a single file number is assigned to
wells in use by 2006-07. Comparing the micro level the group and processed. But, when the water sharing
data of SuGWM project and the census data of the farmers apply separately at different points of time,
Ministry, one could easily conclude that the latter is these Government schemes treat them as individual
not adequately suited or designed to capture field farmers. Thus, it is not possible to retrieve or re-
realities. There appear to be many more number of construct the data about the coverage of group well
group wells than reported by the MIC. farmers under MI schemes accurately.
Group Wells andAccess to Micro Irrigation Andhra Pradesh Micro Irrigation Project (APMIP)
A study of group wells and their access to micro APMIP was launched in 2003 and one of the earliest
irrigation equipment revealed interesting details. initiatives backed by NMMI in India. APMIP reported
Many States in India are receiving support from achieving an impressive coverage of about 1 Mha by
Central Government under National Mission on Micro March 2013. The erstwhileAPMIP was bifurcated into
Irrigation (NIMI) under the Ministry of Agriculture, APMIP and TSMIP for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
Government of India. Some of them, like Tamil Nadu, States respectively, after the formation of these two
Andhra Pradesh, Telangana etc, are offering additional states on June 02, 2014. Since the data and analysis is
subsidies to farmers so as to promote micro irrigation related to the period prior to the bifurcation, the micro
vigorously. irrigation scheme is still mentioned as APMIP, which
refers the earstwhile APMIP in undivided Andhra
But, coverage of existing traditional group well
Pradesh. Data related to APMIP coverage of water
farmers under micro irrigation schemes of various
sharing farmers after the issue of GO 251 in 2011
State Governments is not very significant. Some
(Agriculture and Cooperation Department 2011), was
States like Tamil Nadu terms ‘land-pooling by
obtained using RTI route(vi) for nine districts of
neighbouring farmers’ eligible for accessing micro
undivided Andhra Pradesh for the period 2011 to 2014
irrigation systems (Agriculture Department 2011).
and juxtaposed the same with the number of group
This implies that a joint well or a group well belonging
wells given by fourth MIC (Table 4). In general, there
to more than one farmer is acceptable to the scheme.
is no correlation between the group-owned wells
Andhra Pradesh Micro Irrigation Project (APMIP)
given by fourth MIC and the coverage of water-
included farmers having ‘shared water sources’ as
sharing farmers underAPMIP.
eligible under the scheme in 2011 (Agriculture and
Cooperation Department 2011). Rashtriya Krishi Some points on column (3) on the number of group
Vikas Yojana (RKVY) permitted MI units to both wells and column (4) on number of water sharing
water-giving and water-receiving farmers through a farmers: Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh has
sharing agreement, but water sharing by farmers who highest number of group-owned wells among the nine
jointly own the well is not explicitly mentioned. districts listed above. But, the number of water sharing
farmers under APMIP is the lowest. The number of
All these schemes pay no additional attention or offer water sharing farmers under APMIP is reported to be
priority or offer differential subsidy to these groups. At highest in Ranga Reddy district. Karimnagar,
the implementation level, they are the last priority, Khammam and East Godavari have fewer group wells
basically due to the informal nature of water sharing
and technical limitations. For example, when the yield (vi) RTI request dated March 14, 2014 to O/o Project Officer, APMIP,

34 Annual Technical Volume

Table 4 Coverage of water sharing farmers under APMIP
District Total group wells Coverage of farmers sourcing water from shared wells under APMIP
(as per Fourth MIC 2006-07) (During October 2011 to March 2014)
Water Sharing Farmers Area Covered, ha
Kurnool 634 2385 1831
Chittoor 7838 751 1502
Karimnagar 106 1302 1062
Khammam 250 1983 1350
Ranga Reddy 3616 13258 11219
Krishna 398 1587 1004
Prakasam 3581 805 790
East Godavari 125 2732 3024
Guntur 7 1137 614
Total 16555 25940 22369

but APMIP provided MI kits to large number of water Within the agriculture category, a sub-category of
sharing farmers. group-owned well may be introduced by the
electricity distribution companies (Discoms). This
Generally, coverage of much higher number of water
helps to identify the group wells more precisely. Since
sharing farmers is due to the fact that APMIP
anything that is not measurable, cannot be efficiently
recognises any group of farmers who comes forward
to share water from a common well. They only need to manageable, this measure not only helps to identify
submit a ‘water-sharing agreement’ signed by those them but also to direct actions specific to them by
farmers and certified by the village level revenue various government schemes. Unique group ID and
official. The farmer in whose land the well is located or farmer IDs under the group ID may be given, as done
in whose name the agricultural electrical connection by SuGWM project to identify water sharing groups,
exists is treated as the owner of the well and rest of the by the Discoms. It is also essential to encourage an
farmers are treated as water receivers. When all these entire group to apply to Government MI scheme in one
farmers apply together, APMIP seems to identify them go, instead of individual applications at different
as a group and assign a common Identification (ID) points of time. The MIP guidelines of Telangana State
number. In case of a well jointly-owned by group of for 2014-15 reflect this view by saying that design of
farmers also, they fit into this system of owner- MI units is to be done taking entire area under the
receiver relationship. When the farmers belonging to sharing arrangement as ‘one unit’.
these groups apply separately instead of as a group, A small additional financial incentive (say, to the
they are treated as individual farmers and assigned extent of 5%) may be introduced in the MI schemes,
different individual ID numbers in the APMIP when the farmers of group wells apply together, over
database. Thus, it may be inferred that APMIP might and above the subsidy offered to the individual farmer.
have covered many more number of water sharing This will result in strengthening of water sharing
farmers but this fact could not be captured as water groups; discouraging digging new individual wells;
sharing groups. saving of money to the farmers due to common Head
On the other hand, there is no authentic method that Control Unit (HCU)(vii) and saving of time of
separates the ‘joint-well owners’ from the pool of processing for both APMIP and the drip installing
‘water-sharing farmers’ listed with the APMIP. Since company.
water rights are not formal in nature, no documentary Group Wells and Water Management
evidence will be available for each individual farmer's
right on the joint wells. When a piece of land is divided Since most of the group wells are energized by
between a farmer’s siblings, the sibling in whose land electricity supply from the grid, farmers in the group
the well is located is recognised as the well-owner and need to cope with the limited hours of electricity
others are treated as receivers. But, customarily, all supply and low recuperation rates for irrigating their
these siblings continue to have right over the well as lands on an equitable basis. Thus, each one's access to
well as a share of water from the well. For the purpose water is limited further in group wells compared to an
of APMIP, since all these siblings have land on their individually-owned well. This necessitates group well
names and have a water-sharing agreement amongst farmers to be more judicious with water use,
them, they are eligible to apply for MI kits. When the particularly in Rabi (winter) and Summer seasons;
farmer did not divide his land among the siblings, they
need a partition deed executed for all of them to be (vii) HCU is a major component installed next to the well in a drip irrigation
eligible. Otherwise, only the farmer is eligible as system. It contains generally sub-components such as pressure valve,
gauges, venturi, filtration unit etc.
individual owner of land and irrigation well.

Annual Technical Volume 35

Table 5 Composition of sample groups and farmers
Category* Total
(a) Groups with all farmers (b) Groups with some farmers (c) Groups with all farmers
using sprinkler kits using sprinkler kits and some following flood irrigation
following flood irrigation
Tube Wells (TWs) 6 (13) 4 (8) 3 (6) 13 (27)
Open Wells (OWs) 2 (4) 2 (10) 2 (10) 7 (23)
Total 8 (17) 6 (18$) 6 (15) 20 (50)
* figures in brackets indicate number of farmers in those groups
$ out of the 18 farmers, eight are using sprinkler kits and remaining 10 followed flood irrigation

each should cultivate only a limited extent of land and sample is composed of eight groups with all 17
opt to sow short-duration crops that are less water- farmers using sprinklers kits; six groups with eight
intensive. farmers using sprinklers kits and 10 farmers using
flood irrigation method; and six groups with all 15
Group wells are found to be more efficient in water farmers using flood irrigation method.
use; ensuring access more equitably, and avoiding
over-loading of power distribution network. Making a Rabi 2011 is taken as baseline season with all 50
new well on a sharing basis leads to sharing the farmers following flood irrigation method. But, by
consequences of the well failure and investment accessing sprinkler units from Government schemes
losses. Incurring initial capital expenditure and and SuGWM project, all together 25 of them started
maintenance expenditure later will be alike shared by using sprinklers for irrigation from Rabi 2012 and
the group, reducing the burden on the individual continued in Rabi 2013 also.
farmers in the group. Thus, group wells reduce capital Rabi or winter cultivation season in a year starts from
costs in agriculture and benefit farmers and December and goes upto February. During Rabi
Government (Power Distribution Companies) equally rainfall is scanty and most of the irrigation needs are
in a win-win manner. met from ground water. Due to limited water in wells
There are primarily, two methods of water extraction most of these farmers cultivate only one Groundnut
and application by farmers in group wells, namely, (i) crop during rainy period (June-Sept.) and abstain from
rotational pumping by farmers and (ii) pumping and cultivation during Rabi and summer seasons.
simultaneous distribution to all farmers. This pumping Therefore, extent of cultivation and irrigation during
could be either using multiple individual pump-sets Rabi is the real indicator of the impact of water
belonging to the group well farmers or using a single recharge works done by the project as well the utility
pump-set owned by the group. Normal pump capacity of sprinkler units. Predominant crop cultivated by
in both these cases varies from 5 hp to 7.5 hp. Micro these farmers is Groundnut (about 95% of total
Irrigation (MI) methods, such as drips and sprinklers, irrigated area of the sample farmers) and therefore
have gained popularity in several States with 'total area irrigated' by them is considered instead of
Governments promoting them by offering a good crop-wise areas for comparison across groups and
amount of subsidies on the unit costs. A few states like seasons.
Andhra Pradesh, included group well farmers also as Out of the total 20 sample wells, 13 are tube wells and
eligible for accessing MI kits. remaining are open wells. Since it is possible to pump
To study the pattern of water usage among water using more than one pump-set in the case of open
sharing farmers in groups and to ascertain how MI kits wells, total pump-hours available to open well groups
alter the water access and utilization, a sample study is is theoretically more than that to tube well farmers.
being done by SuGWM project in its project villages Since there is an over-all ceiling on the duration of
since 2011. A total of 20 groups (with 50 farmers) were electricity supply to seven hours a day, a tube well
identified in Kotanka, Maddivarigondi and group has a limitation of 49 pump-hours a week, but an
open well group with three pump-sets, for example,
Masakavankapalli GPs in Anantapur district for this
could pump for a maximum of 147 hours a week. This
study. 13 of the 20 sample group wells are tube wells
distinguishes tube wells from open wells. To check
each having single pump-set for lifting and sharing
whether open well farmers took this to their
water by the farmers in the group. Remaining seven
advantage, and irrigated more area, separate analysis
are open wells, each with farmers having individual
is attempted for these two types of wells.
pump-sets for lifting water (Table 5). Number of
farmers in individual groups varies from two to seven. This study analysed two key parameters: (1) average
In terms of usage of sprinkler irrigation kits, the irrigated area per farmer, and (2) equity in access to

36 Annual Technical Volume

ground water for three consecutive Rabi seasons any crop in Rabi 2011, resumed cultivation of second
during 2011-13, for both sprinkler-using and flood crop and benefited from additional incomes.
irrigation farmers. Year 2011 data is the baseline Equity in Access to Ground Water in Groups
during which none of these 50 farmers used sprinkler
irrigation. Ideally ground water is to be treated as a naturally
occurring common property resource. But, the
Average Area Irrigated per Farmer extraction and use for agriculture are mostly through
Average area irrigated per farmer from shared water private investments by large number of small farmers
source for the seasons Rabi 2011, 2012 and 2013 was in India and many other developing countries. Since
calculated for three distinct categories (given in Table the occurance and availability of ground water is not
5) within group tube wells and group open wells. uniform in all the areas, there is a nature-imposed
inequality in access to ground water. Since access to
Obviously, with the use of sprinklers, area irrigated ground water is linked to right on land, those farmers
increased upto 129% compared to the base line areas who makes a well in their lands first, could appropriate
irrigated (in flood irrigation method) in Rabi 2011 for a perpetual right on ground water before others.
both tube wells and open wells (Figures 1 and 2).
Group wells exist traditionally in many areas and have
Against the assumption that open well farmers have been providing invaluable irrigation water to small
the advantage of more pump-hours per week which and marginal farmers. In group wells, all those farmers
may result in more irrigated area per farmer, there is no in the group access water equitably, based on the land
significant difference in area irrigated in tube wells area they hold. Thus, one group well provides access
and open wells. Limited water availability and to water to many small farmers. The current study of
recuperation rates of these wells as well as capacity of 50 sample farmers in 20 water sharing groups is
one sprinkler unit seemed to be the influencing factors. further extended to understand the 'equity in access to
Farmers benefited by increasing area irrigated and water' by group members. For this purpose all 50
improved quality as well as quantity of crop produced. farmers were taken as a single set and average area
26 out of the sample 50 farmers, who did not cultivate irrigated per farmer as well as standard deviation were
calculated before and after the introduction of
sprinkler irrigation practice.
Total area irrigated by all sample farmers together
increased from 41.5 acres to 106.0 acres in 2013,
which is about 155% (Table 6). Not only the average
area irrigated per farmer increased from 0.83 to 2.12
acres, but also the number of all farmers who
cultivated second crop during Rabi during 2012 and
Thus the revival of traditional water sharing groups
and providing them with sprinkler kits helped them to
resume cultivation of second crop and revive the
practice of water sharing by all farmers in the group.
By using sprinkler kits, farmers used the available
Figure 1 Average irrigated area per farmer - Tube Wells water more efficiently and cultivated more area of
crop in Rabi season. Thus, there may not be an over-all
saving in the quantity of water used but the quantity of
water used to cultivate an acre considerably reduced.
Though expansion of area irrigated might have
nullified the savings of water achieved using sprinkler
kits, water is now used more efficiently within the
available pump-hours.
Table 6 Mean area irrigated and Standard Deviation for 2011
and 2013
Parameter Rabi (2011) Rabi (2013)
Number of farmers using sprinklers 0 25
Total area irrigated (acres) 41.5 106.0
Mean area irrigated per farmer (acres) 0.83 2.12
Figure 2 Average irrigated area per farmer - Open Wells Standard Deviation 1.00 0.64

Annual Technical Volume 37

Standard deviation (SD) of areas irrigated by among farmers. The study points towards two major
individual sample farmers reduced from 1.00 in 2011 areas for policy action, viz., (i) improving the accuracy
to 0.64 in 2013 (Table 6). As SD is a measure of of data about group wells from the ground and (ii)
deviation from the mean, more SD indicates more financial incentives to encourage water sharing.
inequality among the farmers. With resumption of
Census of Ground Water Irrigation Sources
cultivation by farmers in groups and utilization of
water entitlements by all, these inequalities have Though the Minor Irrigation Census seems to offer the
reduced to 0.64. Since farmers having different land big picture of group wells in India, they are far from
holdings around these wells have unequal water accurate and removed from ground reality. Micro level
entitlements inherited from their forefathers, the SD studies in limited number of villages revealed the
may not further taper in future years or by any other existence of many more numbers of group wells and
interventions. Here, area irrigated is taken as the proxy farmers in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states. Data
for measuring the equity in access to water, which is from MIC appeared to be inaccurate and not so
fairly reasonable when a single crop type (Groundnut) meticulous in enumerating the farmers under each
dominates the cropping pattern with about 97%. group well. Such meticulous information is more
Equity in access to ground water is more among water useful to extend micro irrigation schemes of
sharing farmers compared to the whole farmer Government to reach-out to deserving water sharing
population in a village. This is further enhanced by the farmers in the groups. In this context, the following are
application of micro irrigation methods. Sprinkler kit the two specific recommendations to current practice
given by SuGWM project helped as a tool in reviving of the census of ground water sources in India:
and binding the group together. Thus, these efforts of
enhanced ground water recharge; revival of traditional ¨ A more accurate method of enumerating jointly-
water sharing practices and efficient use of ground owned wells to be evolved in future census
water taken the villages a step forward towards operations that captures the ground realities more
building the notion of 'ground water as a common completely. Such a method should record the
property resource'. number of farmers accessing water per each group
Since sprinkler units are portable, expansion of area
under irrigation was possible. Similarly, once the drip ¨ Also a broad categorization of electrified and non-
systems are installed for enhanced areas in electrified group wells should be done by the census
conjunction with the water yield from the well, among the total group wells in a given village
farmers will be able to cultivate more gross area with
the same amount of water that he / she was using ¨ In case of the electrified group wells, Discoms may
earlier. Harvesting multiple crops in a year is a provide for a separate category within the category
possibility depending on the water availability in the of 'agricultural electricity supply' and additional
well. Therefore, similar results may be observed in tariff concessions may be provided to them. This
water use in groups in case of drip systems as well. also helps genuine group well farmers to come
However, there is a need for systematic studies in this forward and register as a 'jointly-owned well'.
direction. Cesus operations could draw from such a database
of electrified individual and group wells in order to
Conclusion and Recommendations verify the accuracy of primary data from the field.
This article attempts to decipher the traditional Promoting use of Micro Irrigation Methods among
practice of water sharing from wells existing in parts Group Well Farmers
of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states and to relate
the same with mainstream practices and schemes. When an individual irrigation well farmer is provided
Customary nature of well ownership and water with micro irrigation kit, water use efficiency alone
entitlements among the group well farmers limited improves. But, when group well farmers are provided
their visibility and access to Government schemes. A with micro irrigation kits, not only water use
more accurate census of jointly-owned wells among efficiency but also equity in access and distribution to
ground water sources is essential for triggering ground water improves. Currently, some farmers who
appropriate policy actions related to this traditional are part of the joint-well groups are applying
practice by National and State Governments. Once the individually and availing the MI subsidy first for the
practice is recognized and census of these groups is entire area that the tube well can support, denying
accurately done, their access to better irrigation opportunities to other farmers in the joint well groups.
technologies such as micro irrigation also could be Group well farmers rotate water application, use water
improved not only achieving optimum water use more judiciously and irrigate about 2-4 times the area a
efficiency but also more equitable access to water well could irrigate at a time. Provided there is

38 Annual Technical Volume

sufficient yield, MI schemes should consider entire ¨ Finally, integrating tube well and open well
group as one unit and design for 2-4 times the area that recharge measures also as part of MI package
the well yield could support. Revival and offered by the MIP schemes would help in
sustainability of wells is very vital for deriving lasting sustainability and better economic viability.
benefits from micro irrigation systems. The
importance of source sustainability measures using References
well recharge techniques needs to be promoted among 1. Agriculture and Cooperation Department, GO Ms
the farmers who adopt to micro irrigation methods. No.251 : Sanction of differential subsidy – Guidelines for
Introducing a differential incentive to group-owned implementation of APMIP scheme, October 22, 2011
wells and a separate category in the MI schemes will Government ofAndhra Pradesh
be a win-win-win situation to farmers, Department as 2. Agriculture Department, GO (Ms) No.221 : Micro
well as companies. In this context, below are the key Irrigation Scheme – Enhancement of Subsidy, November
points that deserve the attention of policy makers: 25, 2011, Government of Tamil Nadu
¨ Micro Irrigation Schemes of State Governments 3. Ministry of Water Resoures, Report on the Census of
shall make a distinction between ‘owner-receiver’ Minor Irrigation Schemes, Government of India,
type of sharing and those wells that are 'jointly-, 1993-94
owned’ and shared by groups of farmers
4. Ministry of Water Resoures, 3rd Census of Minor
traditionally for generations
Irrigation Schemes, Government of India,
¨ If all the farmers in a group well avail subsidy for, 2000-01
MI under MIP schemes at one go, the MIP scheme 5. Ministry of Water Resoures, Minor Irrigation Census,
may offer additional subsidy, say about 5%, passing Government of India, /index.html,
on the savings due to lesser costs of over-sight, 2006-07
documentation and monitoring. Farmers further
benefit due to reduced cost of head-control units
and piping

Annual Technical Volume 39

Traditional Irrigation Systems in India
Satyajit Debnath
West Bengal State Electricity Transmission Company Ltd.

During past 50 years area under irrigation has expanded considerably to feed a constantly increasing
population. The water requirement of irrigation sector has also increased which have had a negative impact on
the environment. Mindless and intensive irrigation to increase the global food production had sown the seed for
environmental degradation quite early. The impacts however, are being felt now. In such situation we need to
trust our traditional sustainable practices, which have withstood test of time. Innovations in the form of modern
technologies can also help in combating the challenges in the irrigation sector. Modern practices can be used for
water conservation as well as improved efficiency of the food production. The present paper sites selected
examples of modern and traditional agriculture systems. A case study of Rajasthan is presented to highlight the
problems of the region and suggestion of some corrective measures.

Introduction resources over spatial and temporal scale .

Sustainable irrigation management should be India is a large sub-continent with varied climatic and
successful in achieving two objectives: sustainable soil conditions existing in different parts of the
irrigation to ensure food security and on the same time country. Amount of rainfall received by various
preserving the environment. A delicate balance exists regions is highly variable, with northeastern states
between these two factors. Potentials conflicts (Meghalaya) receiving more than average rainfall
between the two objectives should be mitigated while Rajasthan being worst hit state due to
through appropriate irrigation practices. During past disproportionately poor water availability.
30 years area under irrigation has expanded
The early traditional settlements in the various parts of
considerably to feed a constantly increasing
the sub-continent developed their own way of
population. Water requirement of irrigation sector is
maintaining water resources, especially for irrigation
highest, 70% of human water use is diverted towards
water. Many of the remote corners of the country still
agriculture. “In some countries, the expansion of
don't have the modern irrigation facility and depend on
surface water use appears to be approaching the
the age-old traditional practices. The policy
physical limit, and groundwater abstractions are
interventions are needed to boost the traditional
increasingly exceeding rates of replenishment.”
sustainable irrigation practices. The role of traditional
In some countries water is being diverted to other irrigation systems, managed by the farmers
industrial sectors putting an additional stress on themselves is important in the remote and hilly areas.
irrigation sector. Nevertheless agriculture had been
Various Modern Irrigation Techniques
able to provide food for all, it is criticized for its
negative impact on environment which includes water Irrigation water application to crops include various
table depletion, water quality reduction, water logging methods including flooding the field surface, sub-
and salinization, even marked reduction in annual surface irrigation, spraying under pressure, or
discharge of world's major river is ascribed to irrigated applying in drops. Water supply, soil type, topography,
agriculture. Moreover, inappropriate irrigation and the crop define the appropriate irrigation methods.
practices, accompanied by inadequate drainage, have Adetailed representation is show in Figure 1.
often damaged soils through over-saturation and salt
Surface Irrigation Methods
In this method water is directly applied to soil surface
The whole world is facing a serious water crisis today.
from a channel located at upper reach of the field.
This situation is quite imminent in many countries:
Water distribution can be done through border strips,
India being one of them, having water resources less
check basins or furrows. To obtain high efficiency in
than 3% of global water resources, and an ever-
this method are properly constructed water
increasing population. The water problem is even
distribution networks and adequate land preparation to
exacerbated by highly non-uniform distribution water
ensure uniform water distribution over fields.

40 Annual Technical Volume

Figure 1: Various water application methods

Table 1: Various surface water application methods

Annual Technical Volume 41

Sub-Irrigation capacity and a high infiltration rate. It can be used
where other surface methods cannot be used and
Water is applied below the soil surface by maintaining
sprinkler irrigation is expensive. Evaporation losses
an artificial water table at some depth. Water reaches
are minimized.
plants through capillary action. It requires special site
conditions since complete control of water table is It can be applied only in a few areas, as the process
desired. It is best suited to soils which have a uniform requires unusual combination of natural conditions.
texture and permeable enough to allow water Water having high salt content cannot be used. In
movement horizontally as well as vertically. India, it is limited to vegetables cultivation around
Topography must be smooth and/or having gentle 'Dal' lake in Kashmir and coconut irrigation around
slope. It can be used for soils having low water holding Kuttanad area in Kerala.
Table 2: Sprinkler and Drip Irrigation

Traditional Irrigation Methods among the users. A temporary headwall is created near
Traditional irrigation practices are discussed by taking the gorge to divert the water in the canals to the fields.
examples of villages and tribes in various parts of The average distance of the canal to the first field is 3
India. Km. As the area has slope, water flows from one
stream to another and finally falls into the gorge
Kuhl System of Irrigation downstream. Controlling the width of outlet between
Kuhl is a traditional irrigation system of Mumta two successive fields controls the flow of water. All the
Village, Gujrat India. A group of water users have users assist in construction of headwall and there is a
association. The head of the association or the water penalty for the offenders. The user if absent, is denied
tender is known as Kohli. His role is rebuilding the dam access to the water. During water scarcity, the kohli
each spring and monitors the distribution of water decides the amount of water to be allocated to the each

42 Annual Technical Volume

Zabo System Of Irrigation Bamboo Drip Irrigation In Himalayas
It is a famous irrigation practice in Nagaland. The This system is used by, tribes of Khasi and Jayantia, to
northeast region of India lies in the eastern Himalayas. irrigate their black pepper plantations. The water is
Terrace farming is the important practice in the region. tapped from streams and springs by using bamboo
A forest is protected in the form of sacred grove on the pipes. The inflow rate in the pipe in 18 to 20 m at the
hilltop. The tribals maintain the watershed in this forest entrance and the outflow rate are 20-80 drops per
by maintenance of forests. After the rainfall, the water minute. The water flows in the bamboo pipe from
falls in the terraces successively and irrigates the land. hilltop to the fields at the foothills due to gravity. The
A storage structure in the form of pond is maintained in intake pipe size is manipulated at various stages to
the middle terraces. The water finally flows down to control the flow of water. To fabricate the system, the
paddy fields at the foothills. To get the wider coverage internodes of the bamboo pipes are removed. The
of irrigated land, water is also distributed in the terraces bamboo channel is smoothened by using 'Dao': a
with bamboo pipes. smooth axe.

Table 3. Types of Indian traditional water harvesting method for irrigation

Ahar-pyne system flood stopped. However, after the British rule, this
system was abandoned as embankments were created
This system was followed in Bihar. 'Pyne' is the canal
on the flood plains.
through which water is collected in tanks called 'ahars'.
The ahar recharged the ground water and nearby wells Case Study of Rajasthan
could generally absorb a good amount of water. In the
The state has an area of 342 sq km. Drought is a
recent past, attempts have been made to revive this
recurrent phenomenon there. In 100 years there are 7
system in few areas such as Jehanabad in Bihar.
years of acute drought, 27 years of scarcity, 63
Inundation System Of West Bengal manageable years and three normal years. Sir Diggs La
Touche said in 1974, “Ajmer-Marwara can never rely
The banks of the rivers were left to inundate during on two good harvests in succession.” It has only 1%
floods. The flood brought huge amount of silt on the water resource but 5.1% of population of entire
banks. Cultivation was done on the banks after the

Annual Technical Volume 43

country, 60% of the area of state falls in Thar desert. introduced, on a pilot basis, irrigation system
Economy is primarily based agriculture and animal management as part of an Integrated Water and
husbandry. Livelihood is entirely dependent on Agriculture Management (IWAM) strategy in the
behavior of monsoon. Rain below 16-25% of normal irrigated Chambal command area of Rajasthan.” The
leads to drought and water scarcity. The rivers are major activities included:
seasonal and fed by rain; they are identified into 14
major basins and 59 sub basins. The surface water l Rehabilitation of the minor;
resources are restricted to south and south-eastern parts l Development of appropriate irrigation practices
of state a large area in western part doesn't have any and irrigation scheduling using model farmers to
demonstrate improved on-farm water use
l Strengthening of farmer education programme by
organizing farmers' meetings, training camps, field
displays, participation of farm women and mass
awareness campaigns;
l Development of a participatory approach to the
overall water management through the
organization of outlet committees and water user
associations; and
l Development of a sustainable maintenance
defined watershed. Thus there is high degree of non- programme involving the water user associations.
uniformity in spatial and temporal distribution of water
resources in the state. Two initiatives, participatory rural appraisal and
participatory planning, were organized at grassroots
Inequitable access to water, caused due to uneven level in the IWAM implementation area. They resulted
spatial distribution as well as imprudent policies, has in the creation of an atmosphere of mutual
led to water related disputes many times. Irrigation understanding between farmers and officials, which
potential of water is exploited to its maximum extent. led to the formation of a water user association at the
Heavy and indiscriminate reliance on ground water has minor level and of informal working groups at outlet
caused water table depletion in the area. This is level. Participatory rural appraisal is a methodology to
exacerbated by inefficient surface water use as well as get to know the existing situation by understanding
heavy pollution leading to overall deterioration of farmer's views, interacting with the villagers and
water quality. developing rapport with them. Participatory planning
The canal irrigation system in India suffers from low consists in forming an institution at grassroots level
performance causing sub-optimal agricultural with the objective of providing an opportunity for the
productivity. This leads to dissatisfaction and farmers to discuss problems and find ways to solve
unreliable and inequitable service among farmers. them. These two initiatives worked as catalysts in
“Poor maintenance of canal networks, inequitable accelerating farmers understanding and interest and in
distribution of water, inefficient water conveyance and the formation of outlet committees and a water user
delivery, and excess water application and inadequate association.
and inefficient drainage are causing extensive water Sharing Some Good Practices
logging and silt build-ups. Large-scale water and
drainage management initiatives are needed to ensure Bhilwara district is in Rajasthan is located near Ajmer.
the sustainability of agricultural production, as well as The area faces water scarce condition and the main
a sense of ownership among the farming community if source of irrigation is rainwater. Natives of the villages
irrigated agriculture is to prosper.” To bring about a migrate to urban areas in search of livelihood during
sense of ownership amongst farmers participatory other months.
irrigation management and water management by
Community lift irrigation project was started here in
users association can be used as a tool. Development of
1997.Lifts were constructed on the tributaries of
such associations is considered essential to provide
sustainable agriculture and protection of existing Yamuna river: Banas and Kho. With the help of pump
investment in agricultural field. Such associations sets of 15 horsepower, water is lifted and collected in
have been developed in Chambal. “The Rajasthan the tanks of different sizes. The size of tank depends on
Agricultural Drainage research project, sponsored by the area to be irrigated, from the tank channels were
the Canadian International Development Agency, has made to make water available to the fields.

44 Annual Technical Volume

Impact: The migration rate in the area has decreased. l It is a cost effective system and does not require
In addition to wheat and rice, people are growing expertise to implement.
various crops like groundnut, green gram and black
One of the practical tools to resolve conflict among
agriculture and environment is providing information
Such practices are needed to be undertook to make the on the needs of different sectors, including the
area productive and ensuring a constant supply of food environment, and then negotiating water allocations
and livelihood in the area and minimize conflicts between various stakeholders. “This tool, called
among farmers. 'Environmental Flows', has been developed and
implemented by the IUCN Water & Nature Initiative
Conclusions and Recommendation
and the Comprehensive Assessment of Water
Innovations in irrigation Management in Agriculture” Increasing agriculture
productivity is the main solution. Research has
A innovative method of irrigation practiced in
supported the fact that it is possible to boost crop yields
California can also be extended to be applied in Indian
while saving water by using a combination of farming
states with scarce water resources.
practices and crop varieties that require less water.
Deep pipe irrigation system “More precise irrigation application using sprinkler or
drip technologies is gaining popularity in water scarce
Deep pipe irrigation system is not very common but
countries” Improving productivity also reduces the
effective means to irrigate the land. Deep pipe
need for investments in new water withdrawals, which
irrigation mainly fosters the growth of the root zone. A
many countries cannot afford in terms of financial and
pipe having the diameter of 2.5 cm to 5 cm is placed
ecosystem costs. But technical solutions need strong
vertically30-50 cm deep in the soil near tree seedling.
supporting policies. For example, agricultural
The opening of the pipe is covered with a mesh or net
subsidies in rich countries may discourage farmers in
to prevent the entry of animals or rodents into the pipe.
Africa from investing in productivity-enhancing
A series of 1-2 mm holes, 5-7.5 mm apart, are made to
inputs because crop prices are too low for them to get a
supply water to the root at different levels. These holes
return on their investment. Firm land and water rights
are called as weep holes. The meshed inlet is filled
are needed so people will invest in long-term
using jug, hose or drip emitter.
improvements. The lost practices can revived by
Advantages of deep pipe irrigation: encouraging tribes to conserve their remnant cultural
practices. Any new method of irrigation has to be
l The deep pipe irrigation system reduces the
assessed thoroughly before on ground application e.g.
growth of weed.
application of wastewater for irrigation saves provide
l It helps in extensive growth of roots of plants, soil nutrient to the crops. However, excess of it may
which make them adapted to the water scarce lead to infertility and /or salinization of soil as well as
conditions also. pollution of other natural resources. Integration of
modern techniques with traditional methods can bring
l The growth time of plant is shortened.
about an absolute ideal irrigation management system.
l Evaporation losses of water are minimized.

Annual Technical Volume 45

Traditional Irrigation Systems in India
K. P. Tripathi
Former Principal Scientist (Soil and Water Conservation Engineering)
ICAR – Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Dehradun

Introduction amounting to heavy conveyance losses. The

application of water to the field/ crops/ trees was
Water is main source of life for all living organism
usually through surface irrigation methods which
including human being, plants and animal etc. The
include food method, border strip method, check
plants use water through an inbuilt mechanism and
method, basin method, and furrow method. The
further transpirates it through stomata after utilizing a
application efficiency is low under surface irrigation
fraction of it for metabolism build up. The water
requirement of crops increases with foliage growth;
reaches peak during flowering and grain setting and History ofAgriculture in the Indian Subcontinent
declines thereafter and reaches minimum or zero at The human civilization was initially hunter to meet his
crop maturity. Thus the soil moisture available around food requirement. The sources of his food were plant
roots is only utilized by plants and rest is wasted. The material, aquatic material, animal and birds. He
plants in-build-up mechanism for pumping water subsequently became gatherer in addition to being
works through the solar energy received/ available hunter. They then became cultivator and started
during day time. Precipitation is main source of water growing those crops whose seed they observed to be
for all. Normally rainfall, if received at regular good food material. At this stage they discovered
interval, meets this requirement. However stored water importance of water for better plat and seed growth and
(part of rainfall) is used as irrigation, if soil becomes the initial source of water was rainfall. The first thing
deficient in soil moisture. they did in the field was to make field bunding all along
Irrigation is defined as application of water to the the boundary of cultivated land to store rain water for
vegetation (crops and trees etc) to meet its better crop production which subsequently led to
evapotranspiration requirement once the soil profile is storing of rain water, diverting river water and
deficit in optimum soil moisture which if not applied at withdrawal of ground water through construction of
proper time and quantity is likely to damage the crops open dug up wells to facilitate irrigation of crops.
in such manner that the crop is likely to die and Today we withdraw the water from confined aquifer
unlikely to produce significant biomass including through deep tube wells in addition to other sources of
quality grain/seeds. irrigation water viz. rain water stored above the ground
in ponds, tanks, lakes, reservoirs etc; below the
Irrigation includes; ground; and diverting river/stream water. Water has
l Water storage (including soil profile, surface, been conveyed from source to the field through
subsurface and stream flow), unlined irrigation channels, lined channels and pipes
laid above and below the ground surface. The water
l Water conveyance from source to the field, and has been applied in the field through surface method
l Water application. which includes flooding, basin, check and furrow
method. Presently we follow efficient water
The irrigation water is termed either as surface water, application method of sprinkler and rip.
which is available in perennial rivers, streams and on
surface water body viz. ponds, lakes, reservoirs The history of irrigation development in India can be
constructed against dams, etc. or as ground water both traced back to prehistoric times. Vedas, Ancient Indian
stored under confined and unconfined acquifer. The writers and ancient Indian scriptures have made
source of all water is precipitation which includes references to wells, canals, tanks and dams. These
rainfall too. irrigation technologies were in the form of small and
minor works, which could be operated by small
The emphasis in traditional method of irrigation was households to irrigate small patches of land. In the
more on storage of water and less on conveyance and south, perennial irrigation may have begun with
application. The water was normally conveyed from its construction of the GrandAnicut by the Cholas as early
source to the field through unlined irrigation channel as second century to provide irrigation from the

46 Annual Technical Volume

Cauvery River. The entire landscape in the central and prosperity of the Indus civilisation grew as a result of
southern India is studded with numerous irrigation this innovation, which eventually led to more planned
tanks which have been traced back to many centuries settlements making use of drainage and sewers.
before the beginning of the Christian era. In northern Sophisticated irrigation and water storage systems
India also there are a number of small canals in the were developed by the Indus Valley Civilisation,
upper valleys of rivers which are very old. including artificial reservoirs at Girnar dated to 3000
BCE and an early canal irrigation system from circa
Indian agriculture began by 9000 BCE as a result of
2600 BCE. Archaeological evidence of an animal-
early cultivation of plants, and domestication of crops
drawn plough dates back to 2500 BC in the Indus
and animals. Settled life soon followed with
Valley Civilisation.
implements and techniques being developed for
agriculture. Double monsoons led to two harvests Outside of the Indus Valley area of influence there are 2
being reaped in one year. Indian products soon reached regions with distinct agricultures dating back to
the world via existing trading networks and foreign around 2800-1500 BCE. These are the Deccan Plateau
crops were introduced to India. Plants and and an area within the modern states of Orissa and
animals—considered essential to their survival by the Bihar. Within the Deccan the ash mound tradition
Indians—came to be worshiped and venerated. developed C.2800 BCE. This is characterised by large
mounds of burn cattle dung and other materials. The
Barley and wheat cultivation—along with the rearing
people of the ash mound tradition grew millets and
of cattle, sheep and goat—was visible in Mehrgarh by
pulses, some of which were domesticated in this part of
8000-6000 BCE. Agro pastoralism in India included
India, for example, Brachiaria ramosa, Setaria
threshing, planting crops in rows—either of two or of
verticillata, Vigna radiata and Macrotyloma
six—and storing grain in granaries. In the period of the
uniflorum. They also herded cattle, sheep and goat and
Neolithic revolution (roughly 8000-4000 BCE.),
were largely engaged in pastoralism (Fuller 2006,
agriculture was far from the dominant mode of support
'Dung mounds and Domesticators'). In the east of India
for human societies. But those who adopted it, have
Neolithic people grew rice and pulses, as well as
survived and increased, and passed their techniques of
keeping cattle, sheep and goat. By 1500 BCE a distinct
production to the next generation. This transformation
agriculture focused on summer crops, including Vigna
of knowledge was the base of further development in
and Panicum milliaceum was developed
agriculture. By the 5th millennium BCE agricultural
communities became widespread in Kashmir. Zaheer Gupta (2004) finds it likely that summer monsoons
Baber (1996) writes that 'the first evidence of may have been longer and may have contained
cultivation of cotton had already developed'. Cotton moisture in excess than required for normal food
was cultivated by the 5th millennium BCE-4th production. One effect of this excessive moisture
millennium BCE. The Indus cotton industry was well would have been to aid the winter monsoon rainfall
developed and some methods used in cotton spinning required for winter crops. In India, both wheat and
and fabrication continued to be practiced till the barley are held to be Rabi (winter) crops and—like
modern Industrialisation of India. other parts of the world—would have largely
depended on winter monsoons before the irrigation
A variety of tropical fruit such as mango and
became widespread. The growth of the Kharif crops
muskmelon are native to the Indian subcontinent. The
would have probably suffered as a result of excessive
Indians also domesticated hemp, which they used for a
moisture. Jute was first cultivated in India, where it
number of applications including making narcotics,
was used to make ropes and cordage. Some
fibre, and oil. The farmers of the Indus Valley, which
animals—thought by the Indians as being vital to their
thrived in modern-day Pakistan and North India, grew
survival—came to be worshiped. Trees were also
peas, sesame, and dates..
domesticated, worshiped, and venerated—Pipal and
Wild rice cultivation appeared in the Belan and Ganges Banyan in particular. Others came to be known for
valley regions of northern India as early as 4530 BCE their medicinal uses and found mention in the holistic
and 5440 BCE respectively. Rice was cultivated in the medical system Ayurveda. The History of Agriculture
Indus Valley Civilisation. Agricultural activity during by Britannica Educational Publishing holds that:
the second millennium BC included rice cultivation in
The Tamil people cultivated a wide range of crops such
the Kashmir and Harrappan regions. Mixed farming
as rice, sugarcane, millets, black pepper, various
was the basis of the Indus valley economy. Denis J.
grains, coconuts, beans, cotton, plantain, tamarind and
Murphy (2007) details the spread of cultivated rice
sandalwood. Jackfruit, coconut, palm, areca and
from India into South-eastAsia:
plantain trees were also known. Systematic ploughing,
Irrigation was developed in the Indus Valley manuring, weeding, irrigation and crop protection was
Civilisation by around 4500 BCE. The size and practiced for sustained agriculture. Water storage

Annual Technical Volume 47

systems were designed during this period. Grand Ancient India
Anicut dam on river Kaveri (1st-2nd century CE),
The earliest mentions of irrigation are found in
Kallanai dam built on river Kaveri during this period, is
Rigveda. The Veda mentions only well-style irrigation,
considered the as one of the oldest water-regulation
where kupa and avata wells once dug are stated to be
structures in the world still in the use.
always full of water, from which varatra (rope strap)
Spice trade involving spices native to India—including and cakra (wheel) pull kosa (pails) of water. This water
cinnamon and black pepper—gained momentum as was, state the Vedas, led into surmi susira (broad
India startted shipping spices to the Mediterranean. channels) and from there into khanitrima (diverting
Roman trade with India followed as detailed by the channels) into fields.
archaeological record and the Periplus of the
Erythraean Sea. Chinese sericulture attracted Indian Later, the 4th century BCE Indian scholar mentioned
sailors during the early centuries of the Common Era. tapping several rivers for irrigation. The mentioned
Crystallised sugar was discovered by the time of the rivers include Sindhu, Suvastu, Varnu, Sarayu, Vipas
Guptas (320-550 CE), and the earliest reference of and Chandrabhaga. Buddhist texts from the 3rd
candied sugar come from India. The process was soon century BCE also mention irrigation of crops. Texts
transmitted to China with travelling Buddhist monks. from the Maurya Empire era (3rd century BCE)
Chinese documents confirm at least two missions to mention that the state raised revenue from charging
India, initiated in 647 CE, for obtaining technology for farmers for irrigation services from rivers.
sugar-refining. Each mission returned with results on Patanjali, in Yogasutra of about the 4th century CE,
refining sugar. Indian spice exports find mention in the explains a technique of yoga by comparing it to "the
works of Ibn Khurdadhbeh (850), al-Ghafiqi (1150), way a farmer diverts a stream from an irrigation canal
Ishak bin Imaran (907) and Al Kalkashandi (fourteenth for irrigation". In Tamil Nadu, the Grand Anicut
century). (canal) across the Kaveri River was implemented in
Noboru Karashima's research of the agrarian society in the 3rd century CE, and the basic design is still used
South India during the Chola Empire (875-1279) today.
reveals that during the Chola rule land was transferred Anicut is a dam, found in streams in India, which
and collective holding of land by a group of people serves to control the flow of an irrigation system.
slowly gave way to individual plots of land, each with India's first Grand Anicut, also known as Kallanai,
their own irrigation system. The growth of individual which spans the Cauvery in the delta region of Tamil
disposition of farming property may have led to a Nadu, was built 2000 years ago to boost agriculture
decrease in areas of dry cultivation. The Cholas also yield. Kallanai (also known as the Grand Anicut) is an
had bureaucrats which oversaw the distribution of ancient dam built across the Kaveri River in
water—-particularly the distribution of water by tank- Tiruchirapalli District in the state of Tamil Nadu in
and-channel networks to the drier areas. South India. Located at a distance of 15 km from
The construction of water works and aspects of water Tiruchirapalli, and it is belongs to Thanjavur District,
technology in India is described in Arabic and Persian the dam was originally constructed by the Chola king
works. The diffusion of Indian and Persian irrigation Karikalan around the 2nd Century AD and is
technologies gave rise to irrigation systems which considered to be one of the oldest water-diversion or
brought about economic growth and growth of water-regulator structures in the world which is still in
material culture. Agricultural 'zones' were broadly use. The purpose of the Kallanai was to divert the
divided into those producing rice, wheat or millets. waters of the Kaveri across the fertile delta region for
Rice production continued to dominate Gujarat and irrigation via canals. The dam splits the river Kaveri
wheat dominated north and central India. The History into 4 streams known as Kollidam Aru, Kaviri,
of Agriculture by Britannica Educational Publishing Vennaru and Puthu Aru. It is constructed from unhewn
details the many crops introduced to India during this stone spanning the Kaviri and is 329 m long, 20 m wide
period of extensive global discourse: and 5.4 m high. The dam is still in excellent condition,
The middle ages saw irrigation channels reach a new and supplied a model to later engineers, including Sir
level of sophistication in India and Indian crops Arthur Cotton's 19th-century dam across the
affecting the economies of other regions of the world Kollidam, the major tributary of the Kaveri. The area
under Islamic patronage. Land and water management irrigated by the ancient irrigation network is about
systems were developed with an aim of providing 28,000 ha.
uniform growth. Despite some stagnation during the Medieval India
later modern era the independent Republic of India was
able to develop a comprehensive agricultural Ghiyasuddin Tughluq (1220-1250) is credited to be the
programme. first ruler who encouraged digging canals. Fruz

48 Annual Technical Volume

Tughlug (1351-86) is considered to be the greatest Ganges canal and that, "by the end of the century the
canal builder. Irrigation is said to be one of the major new network of canals in the Punjab" were in place.
reasons for the growth and expansion of the
Much of the increase in irrigation during British
Vijayanagar Empire in southern India in the fifteenth
colonial era was targeted at dedicated poppy and
century. Babur, in his memoirs called 'Baburnamah'
opium farms in India, for exports to China. Poppy
gave a vivid description of prevalent modes of
cultivation by the British Raj required reliable,
irrigation practices in India at that time. The Gabar
dedicated irrigation system. Large portions of the
Bunds captured and stored annual runoff from
eastern and northern regions of India, namely United
surrounding mountains to be made available to tracts
Provinces, North western Provinces, Oudh, Behar,
under cultivation.
Bengal and Rewa were irrigated to ensure reliable
Islamic Era supply of poppy and opium for China.
Waterworks were undertaken during the Delhi Major irrigation canals were built after millions of
Sultanate and the Mughal Empire era from the 12th to people died each in a series of major famines in the
18th centuries. However, these were primarily to 19th century in British India. In 1900, British India
supply water to the palaces and parks of the sultans and (including Bangladesh and Pakistan) had about 13
other officials. million ha under irrigation. By 1947, this had
increased to about 22 million ha of irrigation. In North
Colonial British Era (1757–1947 CE)
western British India region alone, with the colonial
Few Indian commercial crops—such as Cotton, government's effort, 2.2 million hectares of previously
indigo, opium, wheat, and rice—made it to the global barren land was irrigated by 1940s, most of which is
market under the British Raj in India. The second half now part of Pakistan. Arthur Cotton led some
of the 19th century saw some increase in land under irrigation canal projects in the Deccan peninsula, and
cultivation and agricultural production expanded at an landmarks are named after him in Andhra Pradesh and
average rate of about 1 % per year by the later 19th Tamil Nadu. However, much of the added irrigation
century. Due to extensive irrigation by canal networks capacity during the colonial era was provided by
Punjab, Narmada valley, and Andhra Pradesh became groundwater wells and tanks, operated manually.
centres of agrarian reforms.
The British regime in India did supply the irrigation
A number of irrigation canals were constructed on the works but rarely on the scale required. Community
Sutlej River during colonial era. Ganges irrigation effort and private investment soared as market for
canal built during the colonial era was inaugurated irrigation developed. Agricultural prices of some
during 1854. commodities rose to about three times during 1870-
In 1800, some 800,000 hectares was irrigated in India.
The British Raj by 1940 built significant number of Republic of India (1947 CE onwards)
canals and irrigation systems in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar,
The irrigation potential through major, medium and
Punjab, Assam and Orissa. The Ganges Canal reached
minor irrigation projects has increased from 22.6
560 kilometres from Haridwar to Kanpur in Uttar
million hectares (mha) in 1951, to about 78.33 mha
Pradesh. In Assam, a jungle in 1840, by 1900 had
during 2002-03 (Table 1).
1600000 ha under cultivation, especially in tea
plantations. Historian David Gilmour states British India's irrigation development in this century, and
colonial government had built irrigation network with particularly after independence, has seen large number

Table 1 Source wise development of irrigated area in India, Mha

Annual Technical Volume 49

Table 2 Irrigation Potential & Utilization up to 2000-02, Mha

of large storage based systems, all by the government

effort and money. Post independence has seen more
than 60% of irrigation budgets going for Major and
Medium projects. However, Growth rate of irrigated
area continues to fall from 4.23% per year during the
1970s to 3.08% per year in 1980s and to 2.56% in the
1990s. At present, with almost one fifth of worlds net
irrigated area (57 Mha); India has the highest irrigated
area in the world today. India's ultimate irrigation
potential was estimated at 139.9 Mha, comprising of
58.46 Mha through major and medium irrigation
schemes and 81.43 Mha from minor irrigation
schemes. Recently some positive steps were also taken
to long-awaited inter-basin water transfer, aiming at
adding 35 Mha to India's irrigated area. The Bhakra Dam (completed 1963) is the largest dam in India
implementation of the inter-basin water transfer link
schemes are taken up in a phased manner depending on generally been:
the priorities of the Government. The links namely (i) l Utilization of stream and river water
Ken-Betwa link (ii) Parbati-Kalisindh-Chambal link
(iii) Godavari (Polavaram) – Krishna (Vijayawada) l Direct tapping of rain water (rain water harvesting)
link (iv) Damanganga-Pinjal link and (v) Par-Tapi- l Ground water Stream/river/surface water
Narmada Link have been identified as priority links for
consensus building amongst concerned States for Wherever these sources exist, especially in the hill and
taking up preparation of Detailed Project Reports mountain regions of India, people developed
(DPR). Table 2 shows irrigation potential and techniques to divert its water with the help of simple
utilization status up to 2002. engineering structures, into artificial channels that
would take the water directly to the agricultural fields
Bhakra dam is the largest multipurpose dam where streams joined to form rivers, even some larger
constructed in independent India (1963) and it has and complex engineering was used to divert the river
created large irrigation. water, for example the Grand Anicut on the river
In India, one may find regions varying in temperature, Cauvery.
elevation and rainfall. As a result, the climate is In the arid and semi arid regions, where water in the
drastically varying from one place to another for streams was more seasonal and not available round the
example, when that of the northern Himalayan regions year, the diversion channels were first directed into a
is compared with that of the southern coastal regions or storage structure-so that water could be used in the
the dry western and central regions are compared with ensuing dry period for human and animal
the west eastern and north eastern regions. Hence, the consumption, and for agriculture. However not all
methods of traditional systems of water utilization storage structures were river fed or stream fed. Many
have evolved very differently over the years in of them simply collected water running off a catchment
different places. The main sources of water have area to be stored for later use. In the flood plains,

50 Annual Technical Volume

people developed ingenious techniques to use the are also very common in Rajasthan. Several such
menacing flood water, not just to irrigate their fields, structures can be found in the forts of chittor and
but also to fertilize their fields with the silt deposited by Ranthambhore. Rainwater harvesting using artificially
flood waters and control diseases like malaria by created catchments which drain water into an artificial
making use of the fish in the flood waters to eat away well – just about any land can be used to create such a
the mosquito larvae. water harvesting structure (Kunds of Rajasthan)are
also very common. Special rainwater harvesting
There is a great potential of rain water harvesting and
structures which help to keep sweet rainwater from
this has been used at many places of the country,
mixing with saline groundwater and, thus, providing a
especially in the drier areas. For example, even in the
layer of potable water (Virdas of kutch), horizontal
drier areas of the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, people
wells similar to the middle east to harvest seepage
devised water harvesting structures called the kundi. In
downhill slopes (Surangams of Kerala), haveli system
certain areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat, people even
of Madhya Pradesh, Khazana lands of Goa to regulate
devised and used techniques to tap the scarce rain water
ingress of saline river waters, especially during coastal
falling on roof tops. Ground water Traditionally, dug-
tides, and thus maintain crop productivity in the
wells have been constructed, the water from which was
coastal plains are another excellent example of rain
lifted using traditional technology like the Persian
water harvesting.
wheel or simply pulley arrangement for use in
agriculture or drinking water purposes. Wells were, and Western Himalayan region is the portion to the north of
still are, important source of irrigation in the ground India spanning from Jammu and Kashmir valleys and
water rich region of the Indo-Gangetic plains. In the going in a south-eastern direction through Himachal
dry areas of Rajasthan, people built structures like step Pradesh and ending in Uttaranchal. This region forms
wells and wells below tanks and other types of water the upper catchments of the river Indus and its five
storage structures. These served both as ground water tributaries, viz, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, Jhelum and Chenab
collection points as well as storage structures for rain in addition to those of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga.
water harvesting. Generally, terraced agriculture is commonly practiced
on the slopes, and paddy cultivation in the valleys that
In some hilly regions, for instance in the hills and
separate the sub-Himalayan ranges from the middle
mountains of eastern ghats, people have long since
mountains. Here has been an extensive system of water
used the middle eastern technology of qanats to build
harvesting in the western Himalayas. Farmers have
subterranean structures, which are horizontal wells
had a major tradition of building canals aligned
with a mild slope and called surangams locally, the top
roughly with contours to draw water from hill streams
the water seeping down the hill sides for use as drinking
or springs. These canals are known as kuhls, which
water. It must be remembered that all these methods
vary from 1 to 15 kms. Generally, a kuhl would have a
are ingenious forms of water resources engineering and
trapezoidal cross section, 0.1 to 0.2 square meters in
a modern engineer may not only learn from these age
area, and usually conveys a discharge of around 15 to
old techniques but also suggest new ways to improve
100 litres per second. Many kuhls collect rainwater
them to make these more efficient. The stream water in
and snow melt running of the slopes above them, and
the hilly terrain of western Himalayas was diverted to
as a result, occasionally it is possible to find a kuhl
the agricultural fields through diversion channels
whose discharge increase along its length. The
(locally known as. Guhls and kuhls). At few places the
discharge can vary along with the season. A single kuhl
channel first leads into a storage structure so that water
can irrigate an area of 80 to 400 ha through
can be used in the subsequent dry period. Similar
distributaries or by flooding. The irrigated land, being
method in Ladakh is termed as Zings. Natural springs
situated on hill slopes, is terraced. The system is
were often harvested for domestic and irrigation
common at altitudes from 350 to 3000 m in the outer
purposes. In the Northeast, spring water is often carried
and middle Himalaya where there is a significant drop
over long distances with the help of bamboo pipes.
in elevation in the path of a kuhl, the fall is utilized to
Rainfed storage structures (Tanks) which provided drive a simple machinery, like flour mills.
water for a command area downstream and
Apart from these water channels, another water
groundwater harvesting structures like wells and step
harvesting structure-the ponds is fairly common
wells were built to tap stream or river fed storage
through India. However, these ponds now suffer from
structures, sometimes built in a series, with overflow
growing encroachment of rising population at water
from one becoming runoff for the subsequent one
inlets and from siltation.
(system tanks of Tamilnadu, bandharas of
Maharashtra, keres of Karnataka). These are known as North-eastern hill region stretches over eight states
Khadins in Jaisalmer district, Johads in Alwar district Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura,
in Rajasthan. Groundwater aquifers known as Bavdis Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Water

Annual Technical Volume 51

harvesting practices in Meghalaya take the form of wet holdings have an inlet facing the water head and an
rice cultivation in parts of the Jaintia hills, and of outlet at the opposite side. The inlets for the low lying
bamboo drip irrigation in other regions. This ingenious plots act as outlets for the higher level plots. A deeper
system of tapping of stream and spring water by using conduit channel connects the inlet point with the outlet
bamboo pipes to irrigate plantations is widely point. When a terrace is to be filled with water, the
prevalent and so performed that about 18 to 20 litres of outlet is blocked. By opening and blocking the
water entering the bamboo pipe system per minute gets connecting ducts, any field can be flooded or drained
transported over several hundred metres and finally as required.
gets reduced to 20 to 80 drops per minute at the site of
the plant. The bamboo drip irrigation system is Some of the Irrigation System of India
normally used to irrigate the betel leaf or black pepper Phad System of Maharashtra
crops planted in areca nut (betel nut) orchards or in
mixed orchards. Bamboo pipes are used to divert It is basically a system consisting of a diversion weir,
perennial springs on the hilltops to the lower reaches the canal and the distributaries to take the water to the
by gravity. In Manipur, the jhum method of cultivation field. The special about the system is the management
is still the prevalent mode of cultivation. However, of available water. The total land under command is
divided in 3-4 parts, which is called as phad. The land
there has been some tradition of water harvesting
in each phad is irrigated by overflow system i.e. the
amongst the Nagas of Manipur. In Mizoram, the high
whole land in the section is fully filled with the water
rainfall (about 2500 mm over about eight months a
for the fixed duration. After that the water going to the
year has had ill effects on hill slopes as deforestation
phad is stopped and transferred to 2nd phad and so on.
has resulted in soil erosion and reduction in water
The excess water goes either from 1st phad to 2nd and
retention capacity of the soil. The traditional sources of
to 3rd and then back to main River through the Nalla or
water were the numerous springs in the hills, known
minor tributary or goes directly to tributary and then to
locally as tuikhur, but many have been drying up
main river. The phad system of irrigation is found in
Maharashtra over the rivers Panzara, Girna and Burai,
Artificial irrigation is common in the terai region of which are tributaries of Tapi.
Darjeeling district. The slope of the land and numerous
Similar irrigation systems are also found on rivers Kan
small streams that exist there, make it easy to utilize
and Jamkheli which conjugate in Panzara and the
the water. The hill springs, called jhoras, are the only
rivers Mosam and Aram which meet at Girna. This
dependable source of water in most places. In Sikkim,
irrigation system consists of bunds along the river that
local people have evolved efficient water harvesting
divert water into fields systematically and completely
systems together with land management systems. managed by the local people/ users. Its earliest
Irrigation is mostly confined to rice fields and mention can be traced to 300 BC. In the phad system,
cardamom plantations. In rice fields, irrigation is done the diverted water which flows into a field is kept in the
in bench terraces. In the case of cardamom, irrigation field for a few days and then transferred to the second
water is allowed to flow without proper distribution field and so on. Finally if there is any water remaining
channels. Construction of water channels, regulation it is returned to the river. The basis for the operation of
of water flow, and drawing of drinking water were this system is the river having water.
traditionally done through community participation.
The common sources of drinking water are streams Overflow Irrigation system of Bhagalpur
and kholas (tanks). There are two important traditional It works without any dam or weir. It is based on
irrigation systems in Arunachal Pradesh-the irrigation principle to taking the flood water to agriculture fields,
of rice terraces with bamboo pipes, and the Apatani flood them with the water, allow the suspended soil to
system of wet rice irrigation. In the former method, settle down, water to percolate before, then allow the
water is transported through an intricate system of excess water to run back to main source when the flood
Bamboo pipes to agriculture fields. But this system is in main River recedes.
now becoming obsolete and is being replaced by iron
pipes and channel irrigation. The apatanis have The second system is the overflow irrigation system.
evolved a very scientific system of field irrigation. The This system was discovered in the early 1920s, when
striking features are partially flooded rice fields, and the British were constructing a canal between the
the intricate design of the 'contour dams dividing the rivers Ganga and Damodar. This system comes into
plots. The valley floor has a gentle gradient, and the use when the river is flooded. Flood waters get
terraced holdings are laid out along the general slope. diverted to the agricultural fields, by breaching the
The plots are divided by about half a meter high canal or river in a way that ensures it can be sealed
earthen dams supported by bamboo frames. All immediately.

52 Annual Technical Volume

Khadin channels constructed to utilise river water in
agricultural fields. Starting out from the river, pynes
A khadin, also called a dhora, is an ingenious
meander through fields to end up in an ahar. Most
construction designed to harvest surface runoff water
pynes flow within 10 km of a river and their length is
for agriculture. Its main feature is a very long (100-300
not more than 20 km. The ahar-pyne system received a
m) earthen embankment built across the lower hill
death-blow under the nineteenth-century British
slopes lying below gravelly uplands. Sluices and
colonial regime. The post-independent state was
spillways allow excess water to drain off. The khadin
hardly better. In 1949, a Flood Advisory Committee
system is based on the principle of harvesting
investigating continuous floods in Bihar's Gaya district
rainwater on farmland and subsequent use of this
came to the conclusion that "the fundamental reason
water-saturated land for crop production.
for recurrence of floods was the destruction of the old
Vav / vavdi / Baoli / Bavadi irrigational system in the district.”
Traditional step wells are called vav or vavadi in
Gujarat, or baolis or bavadis in Rajasthan and northern
India. Built by the nobility usually for strategic and/or
philanthropical reasons, they were secular structures
from which everyone could draw water. Most of them
are defunct today. The construction of step wells date
from four periods: Pre-Solanki period (8th to 11th
century CE); Solanki period (11th to 12th century CE);
Vaghela period (mid-13th to end-14th century CE);
and the Sultanate period (mid-13th to end-15th century
CE). Sculptures and inscriptions in step wells
demonstrate their importance to the traditional social
and cultural lives of people. Step well locations often
suggested the way in which they would be used. When
a step well was located within or at the edge of a
village, it was mainly used for utilitarian purposes and Traditional Irrigation Methods
as a cool place for social gatherings. When step wells Surface irrigation method
were located outside the village, on trade routes, they
were often frequented as resting places. Many Surface irrigation stands for a large group of irrigation
important step wells are located on the major military methods in which water is distributed by gravity over
and trade routes from Patan in the north to the sea coast the surface of the field. Water is typically introduced at
of Saurashtra. When step wells were used exclusively the highest point or along the edge of a field, which
for irrigation, a sluice was constructed at the rim to allows covering the field by overland flow.
receive the lifted water and lead it to a trough or pond, Historically, surface irrigation has been the most
from where it ran through a drainage system and was common method of irrigating agricultural land.
channelled into the fields. A major reason for the Borders typically have a slope in the direction of
breakdown of this traditional system is the pressure of irrigation but not laterally.
centralisation and agricultural intensification.
(i) Flood irrigation: Water is left open to the field from
Ahar Pynes one side till it reaches to the end of the field. Under this
It is a traditional floodwater harvesting system is method water is unlimited.
indigenous to south Bihar. In south Bihar, the terrain (ii)Basin Irrigation Method: Basin irrigation is the
has a marked slope -- 1 m per km -- from south to north. most common form of surface irrigation, particularly
The soil here is sandy and does not retain water. in regions with layouts of small fields. If a field is level
Groundwater levels are low. Rivers in this region swell
in all directions, is encompassed by a field bund to
only during the monsoon, but the water is swiftly
prevent runoff, and provides an undirected flow of
carried away or percolates down into the sand. All
water onto the field, it is herein called a basin.Abasin is
these factors make floodwater harvesting the best
option here, to which this system is admirably suited. typically square in shape but exists in all sorts of
An ahar is a catchment basin embanked on three sides, irregular and rectangular configurations. It may be
the 'fourth' side being the natural gradient of the land furrowed or corrugated, have raised beds for the
itself. Ahar beds were also used to grow a rabi (winter) benefit of certain crops, but as long as the inflow is
crop after draining out the excess water that remained undirected and uncontrolled into these field
after kharif (summer) cultivation. Pynes are artificial modifications, it remains a basin.

Annual Technical Volume 53

(iii) Border irrigation System: This can be considered Usually water is applied equivalent to the
as an expansion of basin irrigation to include long evapotranspiration of the crop. Irrigation efficiency is
rectangular or contoured fields. Normally it has high (normally above 85 %). In sprinkler irrigation
longitudinal slope and no lateral slope with blocked method, water is taken from source to the fields
lower end. Water is applied to individual borders from through pipes, whereas in surface irrigation methods
small hand-dug checks. When the water is shut off, it only 30-45 % water reaches the crops. Such loss of
recedes from the upper end to the lower end. Sloping water is avoided in sprinkler irrigation method. The
borders are suitable for nearly any crop except those problem of water logging may be caused in case of
that require prolonged ponding. excess water from surface irrigation, whereas no such
problem is caused in sprinkler irrigation method. The
(iv) Furrow Irrigation Method: Furrow irrigation
balance of groundwater is also maintained.
avoids flooding the entire field surface by channelling
the flow along the primary direction of the field using (ii) Drip Irrigation Method: In this method water is
furrows. Water infiltrates through the wetted perimeter applied at root zone near the roots of the crop through
and spreads vertically and horizontally to refill the soil net work of pipes. Irrigation efficiency is high
reservoir. The distinctive feature of furrow irrigation is (normally above 90%). A precise amount of water
that the flow into each furrow is independently set and equal to the daily consumptive use or the depleted soil
controlled as opposed to furrowed borders and basins water needs to be applied. The soil water can be
where the flow is set and controlled on a border by maintained at the field capacity during the crop
border or basin by basin basis.

Modern Method of Irrigation growing period. Deep percolation losses can be

completely prevented and the evaporation loss is also
The application of micro irrigation produces more
crops per drop of water. Initially it is costly but in long
run it is more economical as there is saving in fertilizer References
consumption as well. It is interesting to know that the 1. Agarwal, M.C.and Khanna, S.S.1983.Efficient Soil and
net irrigation efficiency of entire system being unlined Wa t e r M a n a g e m e n t i n H a r y a n a . H a r y a n a
is 29% against being 90% when the entire system is Agriculture University, Hisar, pp 118.
lined and drip irrigation method is used (Table 3). 2. Agarwal, Ankit. 2011. "Theory of Optimum Utilisation
Surface Irrigation Method of Resources in agriculture during the Gupta Period",
History Today 12, New Delhi, ISSN 2249-748X.
(i) Sprinkler Irrigation Method: Water is applied over
3. Anonymous.1979. Manual on Irrigation Water
the surface by sprinkling it through rotating pipes.

54 Annual Technical Volume

Table 3 Water losses and utilization efficiency under different components of Canal irrigation system (Agarwal and Khanna,

5. Agarwal, M.C., Dhindwal, A.S., Jaiswal, C.S.,

Prabhaker, A. and Anjla, M.S.1997. Status of Research
on Agricultural Water Management of Northen
Region. All India Coordinated Project for Research on
Water Management, Directorate of Water Management
Research (ICAR), Patna. pp.138.
6. Baber, Zaheer.1996, The Science of Empire: Scientific
Knowledge, Civilisation, and Colonial Rule in India,
State University of New York Press, ISBN 0-7914-
7. Bansil, P.C .1998. History of irrigation development in
India. Souvenier National Seminar in “Water
Management for Sustainable Agriculture - Problems
Sprinkler irrigation and Perspective for the 21st Century”. April 15-17,
1998. Indian Society of Water Management, New
8. Chaudhary, T.N.1997. Water management in rice for
efficient production. Directorate of Water Management
Research, ICAR, Patna. pp.63.
9. Dakshinamurti, C., Michael, A.M. and Dastane, N.G.
1971.Water Resources and their Utilization in
Agriculture, I.A.R.I., Monograph No.3, Water
Technology Centre, I.AR.I., New Delhi.392 p.
10. Dharashivkar, Mukund. 2007.The Two Ancient
Irrigation Systems of India: Phad System of
Maharashtra & Overflow Irrigation system of Bihar,
National Seminar on Water & Culture, Hampi, Bellary,
Karnataka, 25-27, June 2007.
11. Fuller, DQ. 2006. Dung mounds and domesticators:
Drip irrigation early cultivation and pastoralism in Karnataka. In:
Jarrige, C and Lefèvre, V, (eds.) South Asian
Management, Deptt. of Agriculture, Krishi Bhavan, Archaeology 2001, Volume I. Prehistory. (117 - 127).
New Delhi. Edited by Pai,A.A., and Hukkeri, S.B. Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations: Paris.
4. Anonymous.1988. Fifty years of Agronomic Research 12. Gandhi, R.T., Gupta, P.C., Joseph, A.P., Rege, N.D.,
in India. Edited by Yadav, R.L., Singh, Punjab, Prasad, Coover, J.R., Jones, D. F., Phelan, J.T., and Pope, E.J.
Rajendra and Alhawat, I.P.S., Indian Society of 1970. Handbook on Irrigation Water requirement.
Agronomy, New Delhi. Water Management Division, Deptt. of Agriculture,
Ministry of Agriculture, New Water Management

Annual Technical Volume 55

Division on Deptt. of Agriculture, Ministry of 32. Qanat Irrigation Systems and Homegardens (Iran).
Agriculture, New Delhi. 129 p. Globally Important Agriculture Heritage Systems. UN
13. Government of India. 1999. Water Resources Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved on
Development Plan of India: Policy and Issues, New 2007-01-10.
Delhi:National Commission for Integrated Water 33. Rao, P. 1994. Management of water resources for
Resources Plan, Ministry of Water Resources, GOI. sustained crop production. In: Resource Management
14. Government of India and Confederation of Indian for sustained crop production. Sadaphal M.N. and De
Industry 2005. “Irrigation.” National conference on R. (Eds.) . Indian Society of Agronomy. AIPTF
Bharat Nirman, Bharat Nirman 17-21. Bhawan Trust Press, New Delhi, pp.77-78.
15. Gupta, Anil K. 2004, "Origin of agriculture and 34. Reddy, M.S. 1998. Theme paper on five decades of
domestication of plants and animals linked to early Water Resources Society, New Delhi. pp.554.
Holocene climate amelioration", Current Science, 87
35. Salter, P.J. and Goode, J.E. 1967. Crop response to
(1), IndianAcademy of Sciences.
water at different stages of growth. Common Wealth
16. Agricultural Bureaux. Farnham Royal, England.
17. h t t p : / / w w w. j s t o r . o r g / s t a b l e / 4 1 6 9 4 2 6 2 ? 36. Sharma, B.R. 2006. Water Resources, Handbook of
seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents Agriculture, ICAR Publications.
18 h t t p s : / / e n . w i k i p e d i a . o rg / w i k i / H i s t o r y _ o f _ 37. Shaffer, Lynda. 2000. "Southernisation", Agricultural
agriculture_in_the_Indian_subcontinent and Pastoral Societies in Ancient and Classical History
19. h t t p s : / / e n . w i k i p e d i a . o rg / w i k i / H i s t o r y _ o f _ edited by Michael Adas, Temple University Press,
agriculture_in_the_Indian_subcontinent ISBN 1-56639-832-0.
20. 39. Siddiqui, Iqtidar Husain.1986. "Water Works and
21. Irrigation System in India during Pre-Mughal Times",
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the
22. Orient, 29 (1): 52–77.
national-seminar-water-and-culture. 40 Singh, D.P.1964 a. Efficient land and water
management for sustainable agriculture in Indira
Gandhi Canal Area of Rajasthan. In: Resorce
Management in Fragile Environments. Behl, R.K.,
24. India. 2008. Publications Division, Ministry of Gupta, A.P., Khurana, A.L. and Singh, A. (Eds.) CCS,
Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, Haryana Agricultural University, Max Meller Bhawan, New Delhi, Bio-Science Publisher, Hisar.
25. Lucio. 2004. The Basis of Civilization - Water pp.70-85.
Science? pg 161. International Association of 41. Singh, D.P. and Panu, R.K. 1998. Irrigation
Hydrological Sciences (International Association of Management in field crops. In fifty years of
Hydrological Sciences Press 2004). Agronomic Research in India. Yadav, R.L., Singh,
26. Michael, A.M. and Pandey, S.L. 1970. Time your Punjab, Prasad, Rajendra, and Ahlawat, I.P.S. (Eds.).
irrigation for top yields . Intensive Agriculture, May, Indian Society of Agronomy, New Delhi. pp.87-53.
42. Sivanappan, R.K. 1995) water Management: many
27. Michael, A.M. 1978. Irrigation Theory and Practice. cost effective options. The Hindu Survey of Indian
Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi. Agriculture. pp.156-9.
28. Murphy, Denis J. 2007, People, Plants and Genes: The 43. Thakkar, H. 1999. Assessment of Irrigation in India.
Story of Crops and Humanity, Oxford University Contributing Paper, World Commission on Dams.
Press, ISBN 0-19-920713-5. Available at
29. Narayanamoorthy, A. Trends in Irrigated Area in 44. Tripathi, S. Inter - State Water disputes and
India: 1950-51 to 2002-03. Interlinking of Rivers in India. Retrieved on (2007-07-
30. Paliwal, K.V. 1972. Irrigation with saline water, 15) Fahlbusch, H., Schultz, B. and Thatte, C.D.
Mono. 2. Water Technology Centre, I.A.R.I., New (2004). The Indus Basin- History of Irrigation,
Delhi. Drainage and Flood Management.
31. Possehl, Gregory L.1996. "Mehrgarh", Oxford 45. w w w. g o f o r t h e l a w. c o m / a r t i c l e s / f r o m l a w s t u /
Companion to Archaeology edited by Brian Fagan, article4.htm
Oxford University Press.

56 Annual Technical Volume

Traditional Irrigation Systems in India
S. K. Srivastava
Chief Engineer
National Water Academy, Central Water Commission, Pune
Rajeev Singhal
National Water Academy, Central Water Commission, Pune

Introduction Tank and Gangai Konda Cholapuram tank was

constructed during 10th century in Tamil Nadu.
Irrigation of culturable land is practiced in India from
Anantaraja Sagar in Andhra Pradesh was constructed
time immemorial. Irrigation is done by two methods,
during the 13th century. Early Mauryan king
by lift irrigation and by gravity flow of water. Lift
Samudragupta and Ashoka took great interest in the
irrigation in India is mostly from wells. Irrigation by
construction of wells and tanks. Later Mughal kings
gravity flow of water is through canals. Water is fed to
of North India and Hindu kings of South India focused
fields (a) by canals from tanks which are either rain fed
their attention, in the establishment of canals, dams,
or filled by a trench connecting the tank with a river; (b)
tanks etc. British Government initiated their work
by canals from a reservoir formed by constructing a
during 19th century in remodeling and renovation of
dam, earth or masonry, across a river; and (c) by
the existing irrigation system. The Upper Ganga canal,
inundation canals. The head work is formed by
Krishna and Godavari delta system, Mettur and
breaching the bank of a river and allowing flood water
Periyar dams are the great irrigation structures built by
to enter in to the canal.
the British rulers. After independence, Irrigation
Above methods of irrigation were practiced in India activities have been accelerated and number of
before British rule. Innumerable wells and tanks were multipurpose river valley projects like Bhakra-Nangal
constructed from very ancient times to the 18th century in Punjab, Tungabhadra in Karnataka/Andhra Pradesh,
all over India. The practice of irrigation by inundation Damodar Valley in Jharkhand/West Bengal were
canals was followed in Punjab and Sind provinces as established.
the rivers are perennial and are in flood for eight
Kautiliya Artha Shastra (4th century B.C.) gives
copious information regarding construction of dams
Status of Irrigation inAncient India (Figure 1), canals, management of canal water
Irrigation is as age-old art as our civilization. In India
the irrigation is practiced since pre historic times.
Historical records bear testimony to the existence of a
number of old irrigation works in different parts of the
country. The earliest form of irrigation practiced in
India was flood or inundation irrigation. In southern
peninsula where the country is mostly undulating,
large tanks were built from very early times for
collection of rain water. Large number of wells also
had been in use for irrigation since ancient times. There
are some evidences that during the Vedic period (400
B.C) people used to irrigate their crops with dug well
water. Irrigation was gradually developed and
extended during the Hindus, Muslims and British
The Grand Anicut (KALLANAI) constructed across
the river Cauvery is an outstanding example for the
irrigation work by a Chola king, the great Karikala
Cholan during second century. The Veeranarayanan Figure 1 Irrigation System

Annual Technical Volume 57

including levying of tax. The irrigation works used to IrrigationAdministration
be constructed privately by individuals or co-
The administration of irrigation water including the
operatively. If the work is large, the king was also
basic procedure of levying of the tax for use of
lending his hand for its construction. Rules for
irrigation water as followed by British engineers by the
location of tanks are also detailed. According to
close of 19th century was essentially same as described
different Smrities (200 A.D. - 900 A.D) a man who
in Kautiliya Arthashastra (3rd to 4th century BC)
breaches tank is to be given death penalty by
which is probably the earliest treatise in which this
drowning him in the water of that tanks. Earth as
subject is dealt with. It can be argued that embracing
well as masonry dams were constructed in very large
the traditional practices, especially the irrigation
numbers, in tens of thousands, from 2nd century to
methods, is important for communities in India. Using
17th century. Many of these are functioning even at
traditional irrigation practices in agricultural districts
present time. In North as well as in South India,
can provide communities with more sustainable and
inundation canals across perennial rivers were
cost-efficient irrigation system.
constructed. In South India, wherever water level in the
river goes down considerably in fair season an earth Local irrigation systems have been handed down
or masonry dam was constructed so that .the level of through generations becoming a tradition in India,
water will be always high which was led by canals for with regional farmers designing processes that were
irrigation. The dams were constructed across the same invented to adapt to the landscape. The people of
river one below the other as well as across its Sikkim, for example, have combined water-harvesting
tributaries. systems with land management systems in order to
become more efficient. Rice and cardamom fields are
In Maharashtra there were 50,000 small private tanks
irrigated in bench terraces, which can be watered
which used to irrigate 2, 62,600 hectares in years of
without the need for distribution channels. In
high demand. About 200 Masonry or earth 'Bandharas'
Arunachal Pradesh, two important traditional methods
were in operation during the 19th century which was
of irrigation show the range of low-tech engineering.
constructed by Indian Engineers on rock foundation.
Bamboo pipes irrigate rice fields along with a series of
They exist on every perennial stream of Dhule district.
earthen dams and conduit channels that can be used to
Most of these bandharas consist of solid masonry
flood or drain fields as necessary for the harvest and
planting seasons. Some of the traditional irrigation
The above description of irrigation works in India methods, specifically well irrigation, use water
before the advent of the British gives the idea of the harvesting systems such as the rahat (known as Persian
vastness of the system and it could be stated that wheel). Many of these systems, however, are
anything comparable of it did not exist in any other becoming extinct in north-eastern states due to the
part of the world. Tank irrigation as described above modern systems implemented by the government.
was practiced all over India except in the provinces of
In the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, traditional
Punjab and Sindh. Irrigation by inundation canals was
irrigation methods such as canals, (kuhls), have been
practiced in these two provinces. The inhabitants on
built by local residents to draw water from the small
the banks of the river Indus learnt to excavate small
streams that originate from hill springs. These water
channels through the higher lands on the immediate
sources are called jhoras. The springs are the only
bank of the stream to irrigate lands. This system of
reliable sources of water in a number of locales. As
inundation canals was used from unknown ages by
elsewhere, though, new technologies have been
which the rising water of Indus was tapped and used
implemented to improve the traditional styles of
to irrigate fertile lands lying in the comparatively
irrigation. Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural
rainless plains of the valley. Figure 2 gives plan and
Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme,
cross-section at the mouth of an inundation canal.
the government of Himachal Pradesh has helped to
make permanent kuhls and tanks, solidifying in place
the simple and locally adapted irrigation for self-
sufficient farms that provided for individual families.
Irrigation Methods Adopted by different Regions
of India
Himachal Pradesh
Irrigation is a way for farmers to manipulate existing
water sources to either store or distribute the resource.
It has been a fundamental need for the survival for
Figure 2 Mouth of an inundation canal

58 Annual Technical Volume

farmers because it provides water, the lifeblood of situated on hill-sides, and are supplied on terraces
crops, to the growing plants when there is not enough where water flows due to the gravity that “traverses the
rain. One of the first reported cases of irrigation is contours of a mountain slope”. Figure 4 gives an
among the ancient Egyptians, who built dykes to trap illustration of Kuhl design.
the water that would flood from the Nile River.
Irrigation strategies are necessary to all forms of
agriculture due to the unpredictability of the weather.
Different methods of irrigation were implemented
regionally in India because of the location in which
they were situated as well as the availability of nearby
resources. Nevertheless, three common formats are
identified for irrigation that exists in India. These
include diversion channels, surface-drainage tanks,
and wells. Across regions and districts in India, these Figure 4 Irrigation in Khul region
methods usually have a variety of nomenclature, each
influenced by the region. A group of these diversion channels often create
community-based systems that are used for
Diversion Channels: One traditional irrigation method
“sustainable, cost effective and successfully managed
that is common is the diversion channel as seen on
by local [governments]”. This system, which dates
Figures 3(a&b) below (called kuhls in Himachal
back to 16th century, is used best post-monsoon when
the abundant rainwater runs off through diversion
channels. The construction requires a site that has a
concrete foundation and has a depth of at least eight
inches, where factors like the slope area of land and the
available rivers are also considered. In the Western
Himalayan Region, for example, farmers started
irrigation processes that were invented to adapt to
these mountainous landscapes. In northern India from
Jammu and Kashmir valleys down through Himachal
Pradesh and ending in Uttaranchal, farmers have
Figure 3a Hand-dug Kuhl in Kamand designed kuhls that are aligned with land contours to
draw water from streams or springs. These canals can
range in length from one kilometer to fifteen
kilometers. They generally have a trapezoidal cross
section and are one to two tenths of a square meter in.
Tank Irrigation: Another traditional method is tank
irrigation. The nomenclature for this system is rather
misleading because tanks are utilized as small
reservoirs that are typically in a rectangular prism
Figure 3b Water Channel Flow shape and are used as embankments. This irrigation
system is usually constructed in chains to have water
The traditional kuhl is constructed with a dug-out main flow from tanks upstream to tanks downstream which
diversion channel that has structures that can be are important ancient traditions of storing the available
temporary or permanent. Due to annual floods that water from rainfall, streams or rivers that help improve
might destroy the system, temporary channels, which the cultivation of crops. Tanks can take many forms, as
are built using boulders, rocks, bamboo, and tree seen in Figure 5.
branches, are preferred. In recent years, people have
also started using concrete. These kuhls flow through
different distribution points creating a diversion-based
system. Moreover, this system can range from
hundreds to thousands of kilometers long to allow
water (primarily floodwater) to be diverted to
farmlands. The canals are aligned to draw water from
the hill streams or springs. Kuhls also collect rainwater
and melted snow running from the slopes above them.
In addition, lands that are to be irrigated are usually Figure 5 Storage tank of water from rainfall

Annual Technical Volume 59

Figure 6 Tank Irrigation

Similar to tank irrigation systems (Figure 6),

traditional khatris are pits, made of rocks, which Figure 8 Baudi system
mainly collect rainwater seeping through these rocks.
It is generally built near the foot of the hill with a dug
tunnel and steps leading inside through the basin of
water. Multiple khatris may be constructed, but
ideally, the water gets collected in the lower-most
khatri. These structures do not provide water directly
to the fields. The water needs to be carried to the
locations. They are usually for drinking purposes as
well as washing and taking baths. Being more
expensive than kuhls (approximately INR 15000 per
khatri), they are not as popular as kuhls. One of the
examples of khatri can be seen in Figure 7.
Figure 9 Nawn system
seasons and irregular monsoons. However, this
method has a few disadvantages. The water easily
evaporates and the tank occupies a huge area of land,
which leads to costly maintenance. Moreover, because
the tank is used as water storage, perennial water
supply is not guaranteed especially during dry, hot
The implementation of the well design requires
digging a hole in the ground to provide a perennial
“soft water” supply. This “soft water” is more
Figure 7 Khatri system in irrigation
appropriate for irrigation because it sometimes has a
lower salt level. Saline water is capable of destroying
Baudis and nawns are also tank-style surface water the quality of crops and has an adverse effect on soil. To
harvesting techniques. Deep pits are built to collect and reduce the salinity, wells, which are generally at
store the water and they are generally covered with a shallow depths, are dug near the ponds where water is
roof. Both use same techniques, but the difference collected on rainy days. Well irrigation is mainly used
appears in the final usage of them. Baudi generally has in alluvial plains due to the softness of the soil. It is also
a tank-like structure to store the water, in contrast to more popular in regions where ground water is plenty
nawn, which is larger and used for numerous purposes and diversion channels are available. This irrigation
such as drinking, washing, and taking showers. One of method is preferable because of the ease of operation,
the examples of a baudi and nawn can be seen in and reduction of danger from water clogging
Figures 8 & 9. compared to the canal (channel) irrigation during the
Tank irrigation systems have components that include water flow. Especially when the water level is high,
the “tank embankment, surplus of escape weir, and farmers sometimes still utilize water-harvesting
outlet channels”, which are built across the slopes for systems such as rahat (known as the Persian wheel),
easy collection and preservation of water. Starting which was commonly used in India in 9th and 10th
from the tank bank, water flows through the sluices that century. The rahat is typically operated either by
connect to paddy fields. Tank irrigation is managed by domestic animals such as cows and ox or by people.
local villagers and mainly used in regions that have dry This expense of energy to push the rod that connects

60 Annual Technical Volume

through the wheel to lift the water is also one Bamboo Drip Irrigation in Meghalaya: For more than
disadvantage of this system. An example of well 200 years tribal farmers of the north-eastern part of
irrigation using the rahat is seen on Figure 10. India, in the state of Meghalaya, have been using an
indigenous technique of bamboo drip irrigation to
irrigate their plantation crops. The farmers of the
Jaintia and Khasi hill areas have developed this system
of tapping springs and stream water to grow betel
leaves, black pepper and areca nut.
Terrain and water availability: The topology of the
region is hilly with steep slopes and rock boulders. The
soil depth on these hills is low and has poor water
retention capacity. Though the region gets plenty of
rain during the monsoon season, irrigation becomes a
Figure 10 Well irrigation (Rahat operation) necessity during the dry season. Faced with this need
for water, and the challenges imposed by the terrain,
Bihar the tribal farmers came up with this unique irrigation
Ahar pyne irrigation systems of South Bihar : The
ahar-pyne irrigation system is an interesting method Mechanism: The bamboo drip irrigation system is
that dates back over two thousand years. The pynes based on gravity and the steep slopes facilitate in
(canals) bring water into ahars (tanks). The ahar implementing it. Water from an uphill source is tapped
recharges the ground water and so the nearby wells and brought to the plantation by a main bamboo
draw water. The system also helps to divert rainwater, channel. Usually these water sources are far off from
which reduces potential flooding of larger rivers. the plantations and the main bamboo channel runs
Ahars are reservoirs with embankments on three sides hundreds of meters in some cases even few kilometers.
and are built at the end of drainage lines such as rivulets The water is then regulated through a complex bamboo
or artificial works like pynes. Pynes are diversion network of secondary and tertiary channels to all the
channels led off from the river for irrigation purposes parts and corners of a plantation, right up to the bottom
and for impounding water in the ahars. It is mostly to of the hill. After this long journey, the water trickles or
the credit of these that paddy cultivation has been drips drop by drop at the base of the plant. Sometimes
possible in this otherwise relatively low rainfall area, water is diverted to distant houses for domestic use
when compared to North Bihar. The system attained its (Figure 11).
highest development in the district of Gaya.
North Eastern Region
North-Eastern Traditional Practices of Artificial
Recharge : Northeastern states such as Assam,
Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya,
Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh have a major
percentage of mountainous regions. In these states,
particularly Meghalaya, irrigation techniques similar
to kuhls are used. However, instead of creating canal-
like structures, bamboo is used to divert the water from
the forest to the fields. The water is transported over
hundreds of kilometers to provide water directly to the
roots of the plants using drip irrigation. Lots of water is
lost while being transported, but even then, substantial Figure 11 Principle of water distribution in bamboo drip
amount of water is collected using this irrigation. irrigation system
Moreover, other traditional sources of water in
Meghalaya include springs, known as tuikhur or Madhya Pradesh
jhoras, streams, waterfalls and rooftop rainwater Tribals using traditional method to irrigate fields in
harvesting. Due to the high average rainfall in Madhya Pradesh: A group of tribal farmers in a remote
Meghalaya, rooftop rainwater harvesting structures hilly area of Madhya Pradesh's Barwani district use a
are constructed to increase water supply for post- century-old irrigation method, enabling them to grow
monsoon season. crops throughout the year. By following the technique,

Annual Technical Volume 61

popularly called 'Paat' among tribals, 13 farmers in the System Tank: A system tank is one which gets supply
hilly Aavli village of the district are able to irrigate from nearby rivers and may have its own catchment
their fields, spread on 125 acres of land, from far off source.
water canals by making narrow channels. With the help
Non-system Tank: They are also called as Isolated
of the old irrigation practice, these farmers not only
Tanks. They depend mainly on their own catchment.
grow wheat during the Rabi season, but also produce
As the tanks are of shallow storages, formed across the
flowers and vegetables during the Kharif season. This
existing contours and as the contours themselves fall
is significant as majority of the farmers in this hilly
gradually towards eastern plains, they lie one below
region are not able to do farming for most part of the
the other. The lower one gets the benefit of the spills
year due to lack of water availability and only grow
from the higher. These tanks are called a "Chain of
some crops during the Kharif season with the help of
Tanks" and the last in the chain spills out to a drain. In
rainfall during the monsoon. Aavli village is located in
many cases, the chains of tanks already existing have
a remote 'Paati' area of Barwani district. The place
got linked to supply channel, newly excavated from a
derives its name from the 'Paat' irrigation technique
diversion weir on the nearby stream or river. This
used to channelise water in the agricultural fields from
additional facility greatly enhances the stability and
the hilly water bodies, without the help of motor
sustainability of the tanks source. These tanks are no
pumps. Farmers have been drawing water from the
more totally dependent on rains. Irrespective of its size,
canals to their fields by making small 'channels'.All the
capacity and ayacut, it can ensure proper dependability
farmers take turns to use this water so that everybody's
for irrigation than in Non-system tank in the same
field gets adequate irrigation supply. This traditional
practice allows the water to cover a distance of about
six km by passing through the hilly terrain to reach Operation of Tank Irrigation: There are 39,202
their fields. irrigation tanks of varied capacity in Tamilnadu State.
Out of this, only those which serve an ayacut of 40 Ha
Southern India
and above are with the Public Works Department.
Tanks, with their own limitations, play an important However, all the systems tanks even if they have less
role in providing the much needed protective irrigation than 40 Ha ayacut are under the control of Public
facilities to a large extent of area in Karnataka State. Works Department. There are 8,903 tanks maintained
Regional analysis of State-wise data of the country by the Public Works Department. Out of this, 3,627 are
reveals that tank irrigation is more prevalent in the system tanks. The rest of the tanks are in charge of the
Southern part of the country than anywhere else. This Local Panchayat Union. The Public Works Department
Southern-region consisting of the four states of and the Panchyat Unions will look after the source and
Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu the tank proper. But the water distribution and water
account for nearly 60% of the irrigated area under the regulation are with the villagers especially the farmers
tanks in the country. who are the beneficiaries.
Tamil Nadu: Irrigation in Tamilnadu dates back to We have historical evidences that even in 400-600
several centuries. Earliest irrigation works relate to A.D., there were village committees, especially to look
small storages called tanks. A tank is formed by after the maintenance and operation and water
forming a low bund across a shallow valley to hold the distribution of the tanks. These committees are called
runoff from its catchment. The stored water will be "Eri Variyam" (Tank Board). There was also a system
utilised to irrigate the command area below the tank. of "Kudimaramath", where the farmers themselves
As India is mainly dependent on monsoon rainfall, voluntarily do physical works to clean the irrigation
which has its own vagaries, the idea of holding the rain channels and maintain the tank systems.
water has been practiced for a long time. The pattern of
Karnataka State: The Karnataka State has a well knit
tank irrigation is almost similar all over the South East
system of tanks in operation some of which can be
traced back to 4th Century. The scope of irrigation
Classification of Tanks: In Tamil Nadu, there are about under the tanks is estimated at one million hectares
39,000 tanks spread all over the State. Nearly 30,000 of which forms 18% of the total irrigation potential of the
these tanks have been formed centuries ago. These State. Nearly 80% of the irrigation potential under the
tanks receive water either from its own catchment or tanks has already been developed. Almost all the
from rivers through diversion channels. Hence a broad promising tank site have been exploited and scope for
classification of tanks can be: the construction of economically viable new tank
projects is now very much limited, perhaps enough to
l System Tanks
cover the remaining anticipated irrigation potential,
l Non-System Tanks Judging from the number of tanks as recorded in the

62 Annual Technical Volume

Imperial Gazetteers published in the last quarter of the Channels.” To enable to draw the water through these
19th century, one could perhaps infer that the open head channels, it was found necessary to build up
developments of tank irrigation had reached its peak the required driving head. For this purpose “Rough
during the 18th or 19th century. The number of tanks Stone Groynes” and partial cross bunds across the
existing in Karnataka earlier to 16th Century as rivers/Streams were constructed. A good number of
gathered from the inscriptions was about 779. such works are constructed on the following river
systems in north coastal districts ofAndhra Pradesh.
Damoosi System: There is a unique method of water
allocation being practiced by farmers in an isolated l Nagavali
pocket in Chintamani Taluk of Kolar district . This
system is termed 'Damoosi' system which as a concept l Sarada
symbolises equal opportunity for productivity. l Varaha (including Sarpa)
Literally, in Kannada Language, 'Damoosi' means
distribute proportionately. In reality, it is a method l Bahuda
utilised to share the water stored in a tank in equal l Vamsadhara
proportion to ownership of land. This aspect of equal
proportion is based on the quantum of land held by an l Yeleru
individual within the command area of such a tank in Out of the above, the Open Head Channel system on
whose command area Damoosi is going to be Negavali River is discussed below:
implemented. This method is exclusively used for
supplying tank water for a Rabi crop. Nagavali River System: Nagavali River is a major
river in Srikakulan District, having tributaries like
Open Head (mouth) Channels In Telangana & Andhra Vegavathi, Suvarnamukhi and Janjhavati and finally
Pradesh: Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have a rich joining Bay of Bengal in the village limits of Kallepali.
legacy of tanks, reservoirs and canals as well as, bunds, The flows of Nagavali are being harnessed by
tank sluices, cross drainage works, and anicuts across constructing Reservoirs on Janjhavathi arm, and
rivers/ streams to pond up water for diversion for the Vengalarayasagar and Madduvalasa on Suvarnamukhi
beneficial use of humanity. Many of these works date arm and also anicuts were constructed on all the three
back to Chola rulers, Chalukya and Vijayanagar Tributaries and the main river Nagavali. In addition,
emperors extending their existence from the Eleventh there are several open head channels. These open head
century to Sixteenth Century. channels are existing since the ancient time.
With the limited scientific background and technical Maharashtra State
know-how the hydraulic Engineers (known as Jala
Sutrada in those days) have tried their best to achieve The old irrigation works consist chiefly of a few small
the tangible development on the irrigation sector to canals and small sized tanks (Minor) and bandharas
meet their requirements at that time. Few examples to besides few major works like Bhataghar,
quote are: Bhandaradara and Darana. "Sanction System" of
irrigation is practiced in Maharashtra. Every season
l Gudimallan Tank near Renigunat constructed in sanctions are accorded by the competent authority
the 9th Century. specifying the extent of area authorized for irrigation,
l Colavaradhi tank of 10th Century in North Arcot the type of crops to be grown etc., The tanks are mostly
District. formed by earthen bunds, the larger ones irrigating
areas of about 500-600 ha and the smaller ones upto
l Almanda Tank in Visakhapatnam District 200 ha. Whenever the tanks do not fill as in bad or
constructed in 11th Century. deficient years, they impose a cut in the area
l Pakhal lake in Warangal District constructed in the sanctioned for irrigation according to the availability
middle of 13th Century. of water in the tank. Sometimes there is a restriction on
the number of waterings also and such decisions are
l Phirangipuran Tank in Guntur District constructed taken in the meeting with the farmers.
in 15th Century.
System of Irrigation in Maharashtra: Different systems
In those days, the River Waters were used to be diverted of irrigation are being practiced in different parts of
through channels to feed tanks and also to feed directly Maharashtra according to the size of streams,
the ayacut. Most of such canals were not having any availability of water and rainfall. They are:
head works for regulating the flow in the channels.
Such channels not having normally any regulation l Phad system of Irrigation.
arrangements, drawing the water directly from the l Shejpali system of Irrigation.
rivers/streams are known as “Open Head (Mouth)

Annual Technical Volume 63

l Pazar system of Irrigation. construct kutcha Bhandaras called "Katmati
Bhandaras" and divert water to their fields and practice
l System of Irrigation under Malaguzari.
irrigation which is known as "Pazar Irrigation'. This
A brief description of the aforesaid systems of system is widely practiced on the Girna left bank canal
irrigation is given below: (Nashik district) of the State. In fact one third of the
area of Sugarcane in the command of the canal is
a) Phad system of Irrigation: This is an old irrigation
grown on Pazar irrigation. Of late this heavy
system of the state mainly practiced in the Nashik and
percolation through canal has substantially reduced,
Dhule districts in the Valleys of Mosam and Panzra
with consequent reduction in Pazar irrigation.
rivers since the last two centuries. Even though the
rivers are small, typical geographical, geological d) Mulguzari Irrigation system: Bhandara and
features of these valleys generate water throughout the Chandrapur districts of Maharashtra are entirely
year in these rivers making them practically perennial. occupied by Metamorphic rocks. These rocks have
A series of diversion bhandaras have been constructed undergone sheltering, crushing and fracturing during
across these rivers with canals to irrigate lands folding, faulting and thrusting of the rocks. The
perennially.Lands under the command of a bhandhara transmission capabilities of these weathered
is divided into different "blocks or Phads" normally metamorphic rocks as observed in dug wells are of the
four in numbers and each phad is having a separate order of 0.106 To 110.4 kilo litre per minute as against
crop. One of the Phads is essentially to be under under 5.90 to 143.80 kilo litre per minute in Deccan trap. The
Sugarcane. Each land owner has his share in every dug wells in these metamorphic rocks are therefore
phad and management of water is done by a group of low water yielders than those in Deccan trap region.
progressive or selective irrigators almost on a pattern This geological condition appears to have been best
of a successful cooperative society. A few irrigation known to the ancient population of this area and it is
works have been constructed during the regime of Late therefore observed that tapping of surface water had
Ahilyabai Holkar. These have, however, become out of become customary in these two districts which are
use due to passage of time. Khodshi weir with Krishna known as "Lake Districts" of Maharashtra.
canal in Satara, Shanhda canals in Dhule, Lakh canals
There are as many as 68 large number of small
in Ahmednagar and old Jamda canals in Jalgaon
irrigation tanks built by private entrepreneurs as far
district are a few (a century old irrigation works) which
back as the beginning of the 18th Century. These tanks
are still in operation.
are mainly distributed in the Wain Ganga, Bagh,
b) Shejpali system of Irrigation: This is an old Chulband and Garhavi Valleys and the foot hill slopes
established irrigation system in the Western that overlook them.
Maharashtra. This is a typical form of rotational water
The following table indicates the distribution of the
supply for irrigation. The requirement of water at the
tanks in the two districts namely Bhandara and
outlet head for every rotation is calculated and
Chandrapur and actual extent of irrigation under them.
distributed considering the sanction demands. On the
basis of 4 hour requirements for one acre per cusec The old Malguzari tanks located in Bhandara and
flow, the total time for which a particular outlet is Chandrampura districts of Maharashtra continue to be
required to run is calculated. On this basis the date and operated and managed by the respective village
time to sanction holders are specified. This time table community who constructed them. The supply of
is known as Palipatrak and is prepared for each outlet. water for irrigation under these tanks is free of cost for
This system of preparation of Palipatrak for supplying the beneficiaries as per the rights for the free use of
water according to predetermined date and time is water recorded in the village administrative report
known as "Shejpali system of Irrigation". "Waji-bul-arj" which is prepared as per the provisions
under the Land RevenueAct 1917.
c) Pazar system of Irrigation: Whenever a canal passes
through highly fissured strata, an appreciable Conclusion
percentage of the flow of canal is lost by seepage
These traditional systems are typically on small-scale
throughout the length of the canal which runs in
(meant for a village or for a small cluster of villages)
cutting. This allows substantial quantity of water in the
where maximum efficiency and sustainability is
nallahs and streams in the command of the canal
considered. They have been in existence for years and
particularly in the fair seasons. Irrigators generally

64 Annual Technical Volume

able to provide the community good quality of crops. easy maintenance systems with which local
The implementation of traditional irrigation systems communities have always felt convenient.
depends on factors such as the environment, economy,
For the reasons as stated above union government
social acceptability and indigenous technology at local
have already been taking initiatives on Repair,
Renovation and Restoration of water bodies (RRR of
Most traditional systems do not require extensive and Water Bodies) since 2004 under which the public water
complicated maintenance and operation. These bodies (not the private ones) like ponds tanks, wells,
systems rely on available natural resources, lakes etc having command more than 10 ha for
particularly the water source. Moreover, in India, financial support (domestic as well as external) to the
engagement of the people in the community especially states.
for a community-based system is significant.
Traditional systems provide an opportunity for the
people to be involved. In addition, operation and 1. IIT, Mandi report on Incorporating Traditional Methods
maintenance cost of a traditional system is reasonable of Irrigation with Water Management in Mandi
provided that the system is shared by a number of 2. Indian Journal of History of Science, 17 ( I).
farms and villagers that use the water. They have been
3. "Traditional land and water management systems of
serving farming community for a long time and have North-East hill region", R A Singh & R C Gupta, Indian
contributed to the well being of Indian population. Journal of Traditional Knowledge
These traditional systems of irrigation have to be
preserved for future generations as low cost, low and 4. India Water Portal

Annual Technical Volume 65

Irrigation Scheduling Systems:
Principles and Applications
P. K. Singh
Scientist 'C', Water Resources Systems Division
National Institute of Hydrology Roorkee
S. K. Mishra
Professor, Department of Water Resources Development & Management
Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee
Ambrish Kumar
Principal Scientist, ICAR – Indian Institute of Soil & Water Conservation, Dehradun

Introduction water percolation in the soil profile beyond the reach of

roots. This not only represents a loss of water
Irrigated agriculture is currently the largest single
otherwise available for plant use, but percolating water
water consumer in the world. The scarcity of water
also transports nutrients, pesticides, and other
supplies and the increasing demand from other water
chemicals into deeper soil layers, eventually reaching
users imposes pressure on the agriculture to limit its
groundwater. Irrigation scheduling is a method of
water use. As a result, there is a constant need to
applying water for irrigation of crops based on
improve water use efficiency by crops, using better
calculated crop water needs. It improves water
irrigation management (Fereres and Evans, 2006).
management while maximizing crop yields. The goal
Irrigation scheduling has conventionally aimed to
of irrigation scheduling is to make the most efficient
achieve an optimum water supply for productivity,
use of water and energy for applying the right amount
with soil water content being maintained close to field
of water to crops at the right time and in the right place.
capacity. In many ways irrigation scheduling can be
This not only avoids harmful conditions of water stress
regarded as a mature research field which has moved
but also saves irrigation water and other expenses. It
from innovative science into the realms of use, or at
improves water management while maximizing crop
most the refinement, of existing practical applications.
yields. Modeling and simulation of irrigation
Nevertheless, in recent years there has been a wide
requirements to ensure effective water management
range of proposed novel approaches to irrigation
has been employed in many regions, and a number of
scheduling which have not yet been widely adopted;
irrigation schedulers have been developed (Cancela et
many of these are based on sensing the plant response
al., 2006; Daĝdelen et al., 2006; Fortes et al., 2005;
to water deficits rather than sensing the soil moisture
Grassini et al., 2011; Popova and Pereira, 2008).
status directly (Jones, 1990a&b). The increasing
worldwide shortages of water and costs of irrigation How much and how often water has to be given
are leading to an emphasis on developing methods of depends on the irrigation water need of the crop. The
irrigation that minimize water use (maximize the water irrigation water need is defined as the crop water need
use efficiency). The advent of precision irrigation minus the effective rainfall. When the soil is wet (e.g.
methods such as trickle irrigation has played a major at field capacity), the crop have no difficulty in taking
role in reducing the water required in agricultural and up the water from the soil. When, however, more and
horticultural crops, but has highlighted the need for more time pass - and no irrigation is given - the crop
new methods of accurate irrigation scheduling and will have more and more difficulty in taking up the
control. water. Irrigation water should be given before this
happens. In general, irrigation should at the latest take
Irrigation scheduling has been defined by many place when approximately half of the available water
authors, in essence, as how much water should be content of the root zone has been used by the plants and
applied to crops and when to apply it, that is to say, the amount of irrigation water given in one irrigation
planning water application in irrigated agriculture. application (irrigation depth) is the amount of water
Late and/or insufficient irrigation may lead to used by the plants since the previous irrigation In
undesirable crop water stress and yield/quality recent years it has become clear that maintenance of a
reduction. Excess irrigation generates undesirable

66 Annual Technical Volume

slight plant water deficit can improve the partitioning l It minimizes water-logging problems by reducing
of carbohydrate to reproductive structures such as fruit the drainage requirements.
and also control excessive vegetative growth
(Chalmers et al., 1981), giving rise to what has been l It assists in controlling root zone salinity problems
termed by Chalmers et al. (1986) as 'regulated deficit through controlled leaching.
irrigation' (RDI). l It results in additional returns by using the “saved”
Achievement of successful RDI depends on accurate water to irrigate non-cash crops that otherwise
soil moisture or plant 'stress' sensing, and requires an would not be irrigated during water-short periods.
ability to irrigate 'little and often' on demand. A Soil, Water and Plant Relationship
disadvantage of RDI is that it requires water status to
be maintained accurately within a rather narrow The soil is composed of three major parts: air, water,
tolerance; any excess application loses the advantage and solids. The solid component forms the framework
of the regulated deficit and can cost more in terms of of the soil and consists of mineral and organic matter.
water used, while any under-application can lead to The mineral fraction is made up of sand, silt, and clay
severe yield or quality losses. An alternative recent particles. The proportion of the soil occupied by water
innovation to achieve the same measure of growth and air is referred to as the pore volume. The pore
control has been the development of partial root-zone volume is generally constant for a given soil layer but
drying (PRD), where irrigation is supplied alternately may be altered by tillage and compaction. The pore
to different parts of the root system (Dry and Loveys, volume is actually a reservoir for holding water. Not all
1998; Stoll et al., 2000b). A potential advantage of this of the water in the reservoir is available for plant use.
method is that precise irrigation control is probably At saturation, all of the pores are filled with water.
less critical for success than it is for RDI, as plants can Gravity will pull some of this water down through the
always obtain adequate water from the well-watered soil below the crop's root zone. The water that is
side of the root system and the drying side primarily redistributed below the root zone due to the force of
provides a signal to modify growth and stomatal gravity is gravitational water. In general, gravitational
aperture (Stoll et al., 2000a). This chapter discusses water is not available to plants, especially in sandy
fundamentals to the different irrigation scheduling soils, because the redistribution process occurs
approaches with their merits and demerits, including quickly (in two days or less). The water content of a
automated irrigation scheduling. Lastly some of the soil after being saturated by rainfall or irrigation and
major irrigation scheduling based studies conducted in allowed to drain is called field capacity. Under this
India have been briefly summarized for readers' ready condition it contains the maximum amount of water
reference and could be explored further for advanced that is potentially available to plants.
Soil is like a sponge in that “squeezing” water from it is
Advantages of Irrigation Scheduling easy at first but becomes more difficult as water is
Accurate water application prevents over- or under- removed. When the soil profile is full, the plant
irrigation. Over-irrigation wastes water, energy and expends little effort to obtain water; but as soil
labor; leaches expensive nutrients below the root zone, moisture becomes depleted, more effort is required to
out of reach of plants; and reduces soil aeration, and meet the plant's water demands. The point at which a
thus crop yields. Under-irrigation stresses the plant and crop can no longer take water up from the soil is called
causes yield reduction. When water supplies are the permanent wilting point (PWP). The water held by
limited and deliveries are made at much reduced rates, the soil between field capacity and the permanent
irrigation scheduling can help users' to fetch available wilting point is considered available water (AW). It is
water for greatest benefit on irrigated crops. Irrigation calculated as
scheduling offers several advantages:
l It enables the farmer to schedule water rotation
among the various fields to minimize crop water
stress and maximize yields.
where, AW is available water (cm/m depth of soil), FC
l It reduces the farmer's cost of water and labor is field capacity (%), PWP is permanent wilting point
through fewer irrigations, thereby making (%), BD is bulk density of soil (g/cc) and soil depth in
maximum use of soil moisture storage. meter. The amount of available water stored in the soil
l It lowers fertilizer costs by holding surface runoff reservoir is commonly expressed as the depth of water
and deep percolation (leaching) to a minimum. per unit depth of soil. Table 1 shows the field capacity
(FC), permanent wilting point (PWP), Bulk density
l It increases net returns by increasing crop yields (BD) and available water (AW) for different types of
and crop quality. soils.

Annual Technical Volume 67

Table 1 Field capacity, Permanent wilting point, Bulk density and available water for different soils

Source: ICAR (1987)

The amount of available water remaining in the soil cotton. Allowable depletion volume (%) for some of
decreases as the plants extract water from the soil. The the crops is given in Table 2.
amount of available water removed since the last
Three plant factors important in developing a sound
irrigation or rainfall is called the depletion volume. It
irrigation schedule are: the crop's effective root depth;
can be calculated as:
its moisture use rate; and its sensitivity to drought
stress. The root depth of a crop also influences the
maximum amount of water which can be stored in the
root zone. If the root system of a crop is shallow, little
where, θ represents the soil moisture. Irrigation water can be stored in the root zone and frequent - but
scheduling decisions are often based on the assumption small - irrigation applications are needed. With deep
that crop yield or quality will not be reduced as long as rooting crops more water can be taken up and more
the amount of water used by the crop does not exceed water can be applied, less frequently. Young plants
the allowable depletion volume. The allowable have shallow roots compared to fully grown plants.
depletion volume generally recommended is 50 %. Thus, just after planting or sowing, the crop needs
However, the recommended volume may range from smaller and more frequent water applications than
40 % or less in sandy soils to greater than 60 % in when it is fully developed. Crop roots do not extract
clayey soils. The allowable depletion is also dependent water uniformly from the entire root zone. The
on the type of crop, its stage of development, and its effective root depth is that portion of the root zone from
sensitivity to drought stress. For example, the where the crop extracts the majority of its water. When
allowable depletion recommended for some drought- adequate moisture is present, about 70 % of the water
sensitive crops (vegetable crops in particular) is only used by the crop comes from the upper half of the root
20 % during critical stages of development. The zone. This zone is the effective root depth. The
allowable depletion may approach 60 % during non- effective root zone depths of some of the common
critical periods for drought-tolerant crops such as crops are given in Table 3.

Table 2 Allowable depletion volume for different crops

Table 3 Effective root zone depths (on full development)

68 Annual Technical Volume

In general, crops grown for their fresh leaves or fruits can be broadly classified under the following
are more sensitive to water shortages than those grown headings: (a) Plant indicators; (b) soil indicators; and
for their dry seeds or fruits. Table 4 shows four (c) water balance techniques (Phene et al., 1990). The
categories of crops based on the sensitivity of the main methods that are used for irrigation scheduling,
specific crops to drought. or that have the potential for development in the near
future, are summarized in Table 6. Plant indicator
Identifying sensitive growth stages of a particular crop
methods include appearance and growth (Haise and
under local conditions of climate and soil fertility
Hagen, 1976), leaf temperature (Jackson et al., 1977),
allows irrigation scheduling for both maximum crop
leaf water potential (Stegman et al., 1976), and
yield and most efficient use of scarce water resources
stomatal resistance (Kanemasu et al., 1973). However,
(Doorenboss and Kassam, 1979). Out of three
these methods are either too crude and subjective, or
(vegetative, flowering and fruiting) growth stages, the
call for the use of specialized instrumentation. The
mid-season stage (flowering and grain setting or yield
major drawback of these methods, however, is that the
formation) is most sensitive to water shortages. As
decision to irrigate is made after the plant has suffered
result of extensive experimentation, critical growth
some amount of moisture stress, which may sometimes
stages of various crops have been identified in respect
irreversibly damage the plant and affect crop yield.
of water demand (Table 5).
Besides, these methods do not lend themselves easily
Methods of Irrigation Scheduling to automation.
Irrigation scheduling systems usually deal with two Soil based measurements as indicators of the irrigation
basic questions: (i) when to irrigate; and (ii) how much requirements of plants include appearance and feel
to irrigate. The question of when to irrigate is (Merriam, 1960), gravimetry (Stegman et al., 1980),
approached in several ways. However, these methods soil matric potential using Tensiometers (Stegman et

Table 4 Sensitivity of various field crops to water shortages

Table 5 Critical growth stages of some important crops in respect of water demand

Annual Technical Volume 69

al., 1980; Bauder and Landstom, 1977), electrical Although the approach is simple and rapid, it suffers
resistance using gypsum blocks (Fischbach, 1977), from many deficiencies like personal error in
and neutron probes (Stegman et al., 1980). Like plant judgement, poor wilting of certain crops under
indicator methods, these techniques provide an a moderate to severe stress and growth reduction in
posteriori measure of irrigation needs when the plant some crops even before the plant is visibly wilted.
might have been already adversely affetected by water Certain growth parameters like, cell elongation,
stress. These methods also involve disturbing the soil reduction in growth rate of sensitive plant organs and
in the vicinity of the plant, thereby affecting the fruit circumference may be used as indicators for
measurement being made. The water balance method irrigation. Scheduling irrigation based on growth
involves solving for irrigation requirement in the water indicators is yet at an experiment stage. Adoption of
balance equation. this approach is constrained by inadequate
standardization of techniques, non-availability and
The approach to be used for proper irrigation
high cost of equipment, selection of suitable growth
scheduling also depends on the method of irrigation.
parameters, lack of precision on growth measurement
High frequency methods such as drip irrigation do not
and variation of growth-water relationship with stages
rely much on soil storage of water. There is much less
(Yadav et al., 2000). Various authors (Reddy and
soil water storage with drip which makes frequent
Reddy, 1993; Jain et al., 1997; Iqbal et al., 1999;
irrigations necessary to avoid water stress. Irrigations
Sharma et al., 1990; Kar and Verma, 2005; Kibe et a.,
are applied to meet crop water use, typically on a daily
2006; and Kar and Kumar, 2007) studied the irrigation
basis, utilizing a small volume of the soil potentially
scheduling based on crop growth.
available for root water extraction. Other irrigation
methods rely on the soil profile explored by roots as Irrigation scheduling can be based on parameters of
water storage. Plants draw water from this storage until plant water status. Plant water status is generally
a point where replenishment by irrigation is required. indexed from the measurement of relative leaf water
The speed of storage depletion by crop water uptake content and leaf water potential. Plant water status
(and direct soil surface evaporation), the soil water depends on water uptake and transpiration rates. Plant
content at any given time, and the critical soil water water potential is the most common plant parameter
content (allowable depletion) at which irrigation is which can be used for irrigation scheduling. Large
required are the central elements of irrigation scale adoption of relative leaf water content and leaf
scheduling. A detailed description of all the three water potential as a basis for scheduling irrigation is
irrigation scheduling methodologies is being constrained by high-coast and intricate operation of
discussed here as follows. measuring devices and lack of standardization of
instruments with respect to nature, age and position of
Plant Indicator Method
plant leaf, measurement time of day and frequent
Irrigation can be scheduled based on plant fluctuations in influencing environmental factors
physiological measurements. Any physical (Yadav et al., 2000). Irrigation scheduling can also be
measurement related directly or indirectly to plant based on indirect plant parameters that respond to
water deficit, and which responds readily to integrated plant water status rather than on plant water potential.
influence of soil-water-plant factors and evaporative These include the use of stomatal aperture, growth
demand of the atmosphere, may serve as a criterion for rates of plant organs and changes of trunk
timing of irrigation to crops (Yadav et al., 2000). This circumference etc.
might be considered as the ideal criterion because the
Another indicator of water availability is the leaf
plant water is a good integrator of the soil, water and
temperature (Jackson et al., 1981; Jackson, 1982).
climatic parameters (Gontia and Tiwari, 2008). The
When plants are under water stress, it causes stomatal
sensitivity of the plant factor to monitor water
closure which in turn interrupts in energy dissipation
deficiency and the deleterious effects of the latter on
and result in rise of leaf temperature. If the leaves are
plant growth depend upon plant species, its
cool during the hot part of the day, the plants do not
development stages and the prevailing environment. It
suffer from water stress. However, if the leaves are
seems difficult to evolve any universal plant-based
warm, irrigation is needed. It is believed that
index for scheduling irrigation to various crops under a
difference between canopy temperature and air
variety of field environments.
temperature is a better criterion of water stress than the
Symptoms of plant wilting such as drooping, curling, plant temperature alone. Special devices (infra-red
and rolling of leaves are visual indicators of crop's thermometers) have been developed to measure the
need for irrigation. To use the plant observation leaf temperature in relation to the air temperature.
method successfully, experience is required as well as However, they must be calibrated for specific
a good knowledge of the local circumstances. conditions before being used to determine the

70 Annual Technical Volume

irrigation schedule. The use of crop canopy soil (high readings indicate a dry soil, low readings a
temperature measured through remotely sensed wet soil). The tensiometer measures soil suction
sensors (by satellite, air-borne or ground-based directly without calibration for soil type, salinity or
sensors) has opened up new vistas for control of crop temperature. Rajput and Patel (2005) developed a
water supply, in proper scheduling of irrigation and simple device Irrischeduler, a modified version of
better utilization of water resources (Das, 1991). tensiometer, for scheduling irrigations. Electrical
resistance meters determine soil water by measuring
Soil Indicator Method
the electrical resistance between two wire grids
Soil water affects plant growth directly through its embedded in a block of gypsum or similar material that
controlling effect on plant water stress. There are two is permanently embedded in the soil. The electrical
ways to access the availability of soil water for plant resistance of the block varies with its water content,
growth: by measuring the soil moisture content and by which in turn is dependent upon the water content of
measuring how strongly that water is retained in the the soil in contact with it. As the soil dries, the block
soil (soil water potential). loses water and the electrical resistance increases.
Therefore, resistance changes within the block as
Soil Water Content
measured by the meter can be interpreted in terms of
For irrigation purposes, soil water content is generally soil water content. Resistance blocks are generally
expressed as a fraction of the available water. This calibrated in terms of soil water tension so as to make
fraction is given by the ratio of available water content readings applicable across soil textures. Kukal et al
over available water capacity which is equal to the (2005) studied the feasibility of rice irrigation
difference of water contents at field capacity and at scheduling on the basis of soil moisture potential.
wilting point. Gravimetric method, neutron probe and
The use of tensiometers and gypsum blocks could not
Time Domain Reflectrometry apparatus (TDR) can be
become popular due to many shortcomings. These
used to estimate soil water content. The safe limit of
approaches do not indicate the amount of irrigation
allowable soil water depletion which should serve as a
water applied directly but require the use of soil-
criterion for irrigation scheduling for a crop can be
moisture characteristic curve to interpret the soil
determined by experimentation. This limit differs
moisture content. Gypsum blocks do not work at very
among crops and for the same crop at various growth
low moisture tension and also fail to establish close
stages. The number of irrigations to be applied and the
contact in some swelling-shrinking type soils. The
amount of water per application will depend on the soil
tensiometers do not work beyond 0-0.8 bar range
type and on evapotranspiration conditions. This
approach has been widely used and allowable soil Water Balance Method
moisture depletion %age has been fixed for many crops
The objective is to obtain a balance of incoming and
(Home et al., 2002; Kashyap and Panda, 2003; Pande et
outgoing soil water so that adequate available water is
al., 2003,2004; Shirgure et al., 2004; and Behera and
maintained for the plant. Inputs include incoming
Pande, 2009). But this approach suffers from some
serious drawbacks. Assumption of a fixed root zone water in any form whether rainfall or irrigation.
runs counter to dynamic and ever-growing character of Outputs include any type of water removal. Water
plant roots. Periodic determination of root growth and removal is more commonly referred to as
soil moisture are also beyond the capability of the evapotranspiration (ET). To schedule irrigations using
farmers. the water budget method, one must be able to measure
or estimate the rate at which water is being used by a
Soil Moisture Potential crop. Evaporation pans can be used to indicate the rate
Soil-moisture potential has been used as an index of of crop water use. To use this method, one must know
scheduling irrigation using tensiometers and gypsum soil type and the available water holding capacity of
blocks. These devices give direct information about the soil and the effective rooting depth of the particular
soil water stress. Plant roots must overcome the soil crop. It is desirable to try to manage only a %age of this
suction or the attractions that soil particles have for total water, usually 50 %. As water is removed daily
water in the soil in order to withdraw and use this water. (ET), these amounts are subtracted from the adjusted
The measurement of soil suction is a direct indication water available. When the water available approaches
of the amount of work the plant roots must do to get a zero balance, it is time to irrigate. The amount of
water from the soil. Mean soil-moisture tension water to add depends on the soil type but will usually
integrated across entire root zone is amore reliable be the same as the 50 % value calculated earlier plus an
irrigation guide than soil-moisture tension of a shallow added amount to account for application efficiencies
soil layer. less than 100 %. Irrigation scheduling based on soil
water balance is a simple procedure that can be
Tensiometer readings reflect the relative wetness of the

Annual Technical Volume 71

operated either manually or using computer programs. apply an RDI system. Most of the remaining
Adoption of the procedure is still low due to lack of soil automated systems currently in operation base control
water parameters and availability of climatic on soil moisture sensing; at least this approach has the
information. Furthermore, potential users are deterred potential for greater precision and improved water use
by both the time and paper work required to carry out efficiency.
the calculations. The main methods that are used for
Applications of automated plant-based sensing are
irrigation scheduling, or that have the potential for
largely in the developmental stage, partly because it is
development in the near future, are summarized in
usually necessary to supplement the plant-stress
Table 6.
sensing by additional information (such as evaporative
Computer based Irrigation Scheduling Models demand). In principle, with high-frequency on-
demand irrigation systems one could envisage a real-
Many computer models have been developed to
time control system where water supply is directly
schedule irrigation (Rao, 1987; Rao et al., 1988a; Rao
controlled by a feedback controller operated by the
et al., 1988b; Rao et al., 1990; Swaney et al., 1983; Rao stress sensor itself, so that no information on the
et al., 2004). Rao et al., (2004) have described a GIS- required irrigation amount is needed. For such an
based decision support system for real time water approach care will be necessary to take account of any
demand estimation in canal irrigation systems. Panda lags in the plant physiological response used for the
et al. (2003) found that the CERES-wheat model control signal.
simulates the profile soil water variation with
considerable accuracy and therefore, this model can The use of expert systems (Plant et al., 1992), which
successfully be used for determination of irrigation integrate data from several sources, appears to have
management depth and scheduling of irrigation great potential for combining inputs from thermal or
without going through the rigorous experimentation other crop response sensors and environmental data for
and data monitoring. A user-friendly window based a water budget calculation to derive a robust irrigation
irrigation scheduling model (ISM) was developed by schedule. Among the various plant-based sensors that
George et al. (2000) for field crops and was further have been incorporated into irrigation control systems
modified by incorporating a rice irrigation scheduling are stem diameter gauges (Huguet et al., 1992), sap-
model and integrated with Geographic Information flow sensors (Schmidt and Exarchou, 2000) and
System (GIS) software (George et al., 2004). Khepar et acoustic emission sensors (Yang et al., 2003), though
al. (2000) developed a water balance model applicable there has been most interest in the application of
to intermittent irrigation practice in rice fields by thermal sensors. For example, Kacira and colleagues
incorporating saturated and unsaturated water flow (Kacira and Ling, 2001; Kacira et al., 2002) have
concepts to predict deep percolation loss during wet developed and tested on a small scale an automated
and dry periods. irrigation controller based on thermal sensing of plant
stress. Similar approaches have been applied in the
Automated Irrigation Scheduling Systems field: for example, Evans et al. (2001) and Sadler et al.
As discussed above, the concepts of 'Regulated Deficit (2002) mounted an array of 26 infrared thermometers
Irrigation' (RDI) (Chalmers et al., 1981) and partial (IRTs) on a centre pivot irrigation system which they
root-zone drying (PRD) (Dry and Loveys, 1998; Stoll used to monitor irrigation efficiency, but had not
et al., 2000a&b) has catalyzed the development of developed the system to a stage where it could be used
automated irrigation scheduling systems. The most for fully automated control. Colaizzi et al. (2003) have
tested another system that includes thermal sensing of
widespread use of automated irrigation scheduling
canopy temperature on a large linear move irrigator
systems is in the intensive horticultural, and especially
(where the irrigator moves across the field). In another
the protected cropping, sector. In general, the
approach to the use of canopy temperature that makes
automated systems in common use are based on simple
use of the 'thermal kinetic window', Upchurch et al.
automated timer operation, or in some cases the signal
(1990) and Mahan et al. (2000) have developed what
is provided by soil moisture sensors. For timer-based they call a 'biologically identified optimal temperature
operation many systems simply aim to provide excess interactive console' for the control of trickle and other
water to runoff at intervals (e.g. flood-beds or capillary irrigation systems based on canopy temperature
matting systems), although some at least attempt to measurements. In this direct control system, irrigation
limit water application by only applying enough to is applied as canopy temperature exceeds a crop-
replenish evaporative losses (often calculated from specific optimum. The development of thermal
measured pan evaporation; Allen et al., 1999). Much infrared imaging methods of irrigation control will be
greater sophistication is required if an objective is to aided by the recent development of automated image
improve the overall irrigation water use efficiency or to analysis systems for extraction of the temperatures of

72 Annual Technical Volume

Table 6 : A summary of the main classes of irrigation scheduling approaches, indicating their main advantages and disadvantages (Comments that relate to all methods in a
section are not repeated in subsections)

Annual Technical Volume

74 Annual Technical Volume
leaf surfaces from thermal images, including shaded was 50 mm (IW/CPE = 1.20) was found to be optimum
and sunlit leaves, soil, and other surfaces (Leinonen for maize. A mathematical model for simulating soil
and Jones, 2004). water content in the root zone was developed by taking
into consideration soil physical properties, crop and
climatic parameters by Jain and Murty (1985). The
Meteorological approach of scheduling irrigation is governing differential equation for unsaturated flow of
based on the fact that the evapo-transpiration (ET) at water in the soil was solved numerically using the
potential rate is desirable for optimum growth and Crank-Nicholson finite difference technique. The
yield of a crop. Irrigation can be scheduled if allowable water uptake by plants was simulated by using two
depletion of the water in root zone and ET is known. A different sink functions. The model predictions were in
more simpler and practical meteorological approach of good agreement with field data and thus it is possible to
irrigation scheduling is on the basis of IW/CPE factors schedule irrigations. Singh et al. (1987) conducted
(Parihar et al., 1974). IW is the amount of irrigation studies on alluvial soils of North India to determine the
water in terms of depth and CPE is the cumulative pan water use, water use efficiency and yield performance
evaporation minus rainfall during the period since of a semi-dwarf high-yielding wheat variety in
previous irrigation. This approach has been evaluated response to irrigation schedule. Irrigation scheduling
extensively to develop optimum irrigation schedules was based on different ratios between irrigation water
for different crops and agro-climatic regions of the and cumulative pan evaporation (IW/CPE). Irrigations
country (Singh and Mohan, 1994; Jain et al., 1997; of 6-cm depth were applied on the basis of IW/CPE
Thanki et al., 2000; Singh et al., 2004; Sailasree et al., ratio of 0.45, 0.60, 0.75 and 0.90. Pan evaporation data
2004; Gangaiah, 2005; Rajak et al., 2006; Singh et al., were recorded daily using standard USWB-Class A
2007; and Kumar et al., 2007). Among the approaches, Open pan. The yield and yield attributes were highest
the meteorological approach (IW/CPE) is widely used and irrigation efficiency was maximum when
in India. The study of all these irrigation scheduling irrigation was applied at an IW/CPE ratio of 0.75 in a
approaches leads to the conclusion that an estimation normal-rainfall year and at 0.90 in a low-rainfall year.
of permissible soil moisture depletion is essential for Water use efficiency decreased with increase in
proper irrigation scheduling. irrigation frequency.
Research Scenario in India The problem of scheduling irrigation at weekly
Singh et al. (1980) conducted field studies to determine intervals for a single crop when water supply is limited
wheat yield in response to irrigation scheduling and was considered by Rao et al. (1988a) using
variable fertilization. Irrigation scheduling was done mathematical formulation based on a dated water-
on the basis of cumulative pan evaporation. Irrigations production function, weekly soil-water balance, and a
were given at 25, 50 and 75% available water in the top heuristic assumption that water stress in the early
60 cm soil profile. The amount of irrigation water weeks of a crop-growth stage leads to suboptimal
applied in each irrigation was equivalent to 75% of the yields. The allocation problem is solved at two levels,
cumulative open pan evaporation. The crop was growth stages, and weeks. At the first level, the dated
fertilized at the rate of 0, 60, and 120 kg/ha nitrogen. water-production function was maximized by dynamic
Maximum yield was obtained with irrigation at 50% programming to obtain optimal allocations for growth
available soil water and 120 kg/ha nitrogen addition. stages. At the second, the water allocated to each
Consumptive use of water was maximum when growth stage was re-allocated to satisfy weekly water
irrigation was applied at 75% available soil water. The deficits within the stage in a sequential order,
irrigation at 50% available soil water, however, beginning with the 1st week of the stage. The model
resulted in greatest yield per cm water use by the crop. was applied to a field problem to derive weekly
Sandhu et al. (1980) conducted field experiments to irrigation programmes for cotton under various levels
evaluate the effects of three irrigation schedules based of seasonal water supply and initial soil moisture.
on ratios of 0.50, 0.75 and 1.00 times pan evaporation Subramanien et al. (1989) and Thanki et al. (2000)
on yield and quality of sugarcane for a sandy loam. observed that irrigating sugarcane crop with 0.75
Cane yield increased by an average of 13.8% for the (tillering), 0.75 (grand growth) and 0.50 IW/CPE ratio
1.00 over the 0.50 times pan evaporation. (maturity phase) gave the highest cane yield. Irrigation
at 0.8 IW/CPE at Junagarh and Cuddalore (Tamil
Irrigation scheduling was carried out for wheat and Nadu) and with 1.0 at Chiplima (Orissa) gave good
maize grown in a semi-arid region, using Cumulative yield (Malavia et al., 1995; Gulati et al., 1995; Durai,
Pan Evaporation (CPE) by Reddy et al. (1983). 1997).
Scheduling of 60 mm depth of irrigation when CPE
was 60 mm (IW/CPE = 1.00) was found to be optimum Field experiment was conducted by Sharma et al.
for wheat, while 60 mm depth of irrigation when CPE (1990) at Karnal, India in a sodic soil with pH 9.2, and

Annual Technical Volume 75

exchangeable sodium % (ESP) 38 to evaluate the ratio of 1.0. Shrivastava et al. (1994) studied the effect
critical growth stage for irrigation scheduling of wheat. of drip, mulches and irrigation levels on tomato yield
An increase in the irrigation frequency resulted in in fine-textured heavy soils of Western India. For drip,
greater relative growth rate, rooting density, three irrigation levels viz. 0.4, 0.6 and 0.8 fractions of
productive tiller per meter and grain yield of wheat. pan evaporation (PE) were tried. In surface flood, the
The three irrigations given at crown root initiation, recommended irrigation schedule, i.e. 8 cm depth of
tillering and milk stage gave significantly higher grain irrigation at 100 mm cumulative pan evaporation
yield and maximum water use efficiency as compared (CPE), was followed. The study revealed that drip plus
to other treatment with three irrigations. The problem Sugarcane Trash Mulch (STM) scheduled at 0.4 PE
of real-time irrigation scheduling under limited water level was the best combination, which gave the highest
supply was considered by Rao et al. (1992). The goal is fruit yield of about 51 metric tons/ha with 44% water
to develop an irrigation operation policy which saving. The highest yield of 163 kg/ha/mm of water
maximizes crop yields. The decisions are arrived at by used was also maximum in this treatment. In areas of
a two-stage process. In the first or the design stage, high weed intensity, drip at 0.4 PE along with plastic
irrigations are planned for the entire season at weekly mulch (PM) could be adopted. This treatment resulted
intervals using historical data and an optimal irrigation in 95% reduction in weed infestation, 53% higher yield
scheduling model. In the second stage, the decisions and 44% saving in irrigation water when compared
for the subsequent weeks are revised each week after with the surface flood without mulch treatment. Field
updating the status of the system with real time data up experiments conducted on mustard by Singh et al.
to that week and solving the irrigation optimization (1996) showed water use efficiency higher for the crop
model once again for the new conditions. maintained at 50% PET rates.
Ready and Ready (1993) conducted field experiments Jain et al (1997) developed a water stress response
on sandy loam soils to formulate optimum water function for the groundnut crop using 22 treatments of
management strategy for peanuts, growing under different combinations of IW/CPE ratio. Three growth
variable water supplies. They observed that scheduling stages of the crop in rainy season (kharif) were
irrigation to supply adequate quantum of water during considered. Results reveal that in the case of limited
the moisture sensitive period of flowering and yield water supply, water saving should be made during
formation stages, yet allowing moderate stress at periods other than the flowering and pod formation
vegetative and maturity stages produce the optimum stages of growth of the groundnut crop. Water use
yield with maximum water use efficiency and water efficiency (WUE) increases at a decreasing rate when
economy. They suggested that at the time of deficit deficiency in IW/CPE ratio is made at one stage only.
water supply, irrigation could be scheduled at 60% When stress is applied at more than one stage, WUE
depletion of available soil moisture all through the crop increases with increasing rate. The developed water
period. A field experiment was conducted by Sharma stress response function can be used for optimum
and Singh (1993) to study the effect of irrigation allocation of water resources for maximum benefit
scheduling of mustard at Karnal, India, during from the groundnut crop. Irrigation scheduling
1987–1988 and 1988–1989 in partially reclaimed resulting in minimum percolation loss was optimized
sodic soil with pH 8.8 and Exchangeable Sodium for a wheat crop under deep water table (15 m)
Percent (ESP) as 23. One irrigation at rosette stage conditions through the simulation model SWASALT
(28–30 days after sowing) gave maximum Water Use (Soil, Water, Atmosphere, SALT), using a field
Efficiency (WUE) and significantly Greater Relative experimental study of an area underlain by poor-
Growth Rate (RGR), branches and pods/plant, seed quality groundwater by Singh and Singh (1997). The
and straw yields as compared to one irrigation at pod optimum irrigation schedules were found to be pre-
formation stage and un-irrigated treatments. sowing irrigation depth of 4 cm, ten subsequent post-
sowing irrigations of 3 cm each with an interval of 11
Field studies were carried out on silty loam soil in the days for sandy soil underlain by loamy sand, and pre-
north-western foothill region of India to determine the sowing irrigation of 8 cm and four subsequent post-
water use, water use efficiency and yield performance sowing irrigations (critical crop growth stages) of 6.5
of sugarcane in response to irrigation schedules by cm each for sandy clay loam underlain by sandy loam.
Singh and Mohan (1994). Irrigation scheduling was
based on different ratios between irrigation water (IW) Raghuwanshi and Wallender (1998) used a seasonal
and cumulative pan evaporation (CPE), e.g. IW/CPE. furrow irrigation model to optimize furrow irrigation
Irrigation of 6 cm depth was applied on the basis of schedules and designs assuming 80% irrigation
IW/CPE ratio of 0, 0.6, 0.8, 1.0 and 1.2. The yield and adequacy at cutoff time. The irrigation schedules and
yield attributes were highest and irrigation efficiency designs were optimized for the homogeneous and
was maximum when irrigation was applied at IW/CPE heterogeneous infiltration under the mean and

76 Annual Technical Volume

observed ET0 conditions. A small variation in daily 45%, 60% and 75% maximum allowable depletion
mean ET0 values with respect to daily observed ET0 (MAD) of available soil water (ASW) during non-
values caused a change in both irrigation schedules and critical stages of crop growth were studied. Irrigation
designs. The net return to water increased (1.7 to scheduling based on 45% MAD of ASW was found to
3.6%), and the seasonal inflow, losses, and bean yield be the best for potato crop grown in lateritic sandy
decreased in the case of variable interval scheduling loam soil in a sub-humid sub-tropical region. Pande et
(holding maximum allowable depletion (MAD) al. (2003, 2004) recommended that only 0–45 cm soil
constant) as compared to the fixed interval scheduling profile be considered for scheduling of irrigation in
(MAD varies). Iqbal et al (1999) studied the yield case of wheat and maize, grown in sandy loam soil in
response of potato to planned water stress. There were the sub-tropical regions. Measured and simulated
seven irrigation treatments comprising of water stress results revealed that under water scarcity condition,
and non-stress periods imposed at four growth stages. plant extractable soil water depletion of more than
The result obtained showed that the timing of water 45% of ASW must be avoided even during non-critical
stress influenced the tuber yield. The stress imposed at growth stages to obtain high water use efficiency and
ripening stage caused the least reduction in yield net return. Optimum schedule of irrigation for wheat
whereas that imposed at early development caused the and its response to irrigation based on the ratio of
greatest yield reduction, followed by the tuber irrigation water and cumulative pan evaporation
formation stage. The study also indicated that applying (IW/CPE) at 1.2, 0.9 and 0.6) was studied by
deficit irrigation at appropriate growth stages could Bandyopadhyay and Mallick (2003) at Memari (West
increase the efficiency of water use with no adverse Bengal) having sandy loam soil and shallow water
effect on yield. table. The yield increased significantly with increasing
Field experiment was conducted by Home et al. (2002) levels of irrigation. An (IW/CPE) ratio of 1.2 produced
in a coarse textured lateritic soil (Haplustalf) of 13 and 21% more yield, and 8 and 14% improved
Kharagpur, India, planted to Okra to investigate the WUE than 0.9 and 0.6 (IW/CPE), respectively. Water
effect of method and scheduling of irrigation on yield application efficiency was noticed higher (79.85%)
attributes. Three methods of irrigation: sprinkler, under 0.6 (IW/CPE) irrigation regime.
furrow and basin and three irrigation treatments A field study was conducted by Singh et al. (2004) for
scheduled at 15, 30, 45 and 60% Maximum Allowable three years on loamy sand and two years on sandy loam
Depletion (MAD) of available soil water were studied. soils to develop an optimum irrigation schedule for
The results of the study revealed that on sandy loam spring sunflower. The treatments included were: two
lateritic soil planted to Okra crop, furrow irrigation to five irrigations on the basis of growth stages and
results in the maximum Deep Percolation (DP) loss irrigations based on (IW/ PAN-E) ratios of 0.6, 0.9, 1.2
while the minimum deep percolation occurs under
and 1.5. On both the soils there was a progressive
sprinkler irrigation. Irrigation scheduled at 15% MAD
increase in grain yield of the crop, with increase in
resulted in higher deep percolation loss than irrigation
frequency of irrigation. The optimum irrigation
timed at 60% MAD, particularly under surface
schedule for the crop was to irrigate it on the basis of
irrigation methods. The DP loss under furrow and
(IW/PAN-E) ratio of 1.5 in the less water retentive
check basin irrigation scheduled at 15% MAD could be
loamy sand and 0.9 in more water retentive sandy loam
reduced to almost half by scheduling at 30% MAD.
soils. The interaction between 4 levels of irrigation
Maximum fresh fruit yield, nitrogen uptake and
schedules (10, 20, 30 and 40% depletion of available
nitrogen uptake efficiency of Okra were obtained with
water content (AWC)) and 3 levels of fertigation with
sprinkler irrigation scheduled at 30% MAD, whereas
respect to irrigation depth, growth, yield and fruit
the maximum Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) was
quality was investigated for acid lime at Nagpur by
obtained with furrow irrigation scheduled at 15%
Shirgure et al. (2004). The incremental growth of plant
MAD. Irrigation schedules with 60% MAD resulted in
height and girth was more in irrigation scheduled at
the minimum fresh fruit yield, nitrogen use, nitrogen
30% depletion of AWC. Irrigations scheduled at 0.4
uptake as well as the least nitrogen use and uptake
efficiencies irrespective of irrigation method. Thus, (IW /CPE) resulted in significantly higher seed yield of
scheduling irrigation at 30% MAD under sprinkler castor in rice fallow than that of 0.6 IW /CPE ratio
method of irrigation was found to be the best for Okra (Sailasree et al., 2004). Field experiments conducted
crop in sandy loam soil. by Gangaiah (2005) to assess the effect of 4 irrigation
schedules based on (IW/CPE) ratios on performance
Kashyap and Panda (2003) studied the effects of of oat revealed that among the 4 irrigation schedules,
various irrigation scheduling systems on the potato fodder yield and water-use efficiency increased
crop yield parameters under limited water availability significantly with increasing (IW/CPE) ratio from 0.0
conditions. Five irrigation schedules of 10%, 30%, to 0.9.

Annual Technical Volume 77

Phenology based irrigation scheduling was applied on in irrigations from 0 to 4 and nitrogen levels from 0 to
maize crop in Orissa with different levels of irrigation 100 kg/ha, increased the average leaf area index (LAI),
by Kar and Verma (2005). One irrigation at early crop growth rate (CGR), relative growth rate (RGR)
vegetative stage, one irrigation at tassel initiation, two and net assimilation rate (NAR), yield attributes,
irrigation at tassel initiation + grain filling, three wheat biomass and grain yield significantly (p ≤
irrigation at early vegetative + tassel initiation + grain 0.05) over the control (I0 and N0). They recommended
filling and four irrigation at early vegetative + tassel providing relatively less quantities of water during the
initiation + silking + grain-filling stages were studied. 0–60 DAS period as compared to the 90–120 and
Study revealed that one irrigation at tassel initiation 60–90 DAS periods respectively, in order to provide
stage was more beneficial than that of at early just sufficient amounts of water so as to enhance the
vegetative stage. Up to three irrigations, water use uptake of available nitrogen required for optimum
efficiency (WUE) was increased linearly with growth and development of wheat.
increased number of irrigation. With four irrigations,
the yield was higher, but WUE was lower than that of Rajak et al (2006) conducted field experiments on a
three irrigations. Field study was conducted by Kukal saline vertisols for evaluating the response of cotton to
et al. (2005) to assess the feasibility of rice irrigation applied irrigation water (IW, 0.8, 1.0, 1.2 and 1.4 times
scheduling on the basis of soil matric potential and to the evapotranspiration, ET) with drip and furrow
determine the optimum matric potential. The irrigation method. They found maximum cotton yield
treatments included scheduling irrigation to rice with under drip irrigation applied at 1.2 ET while the lowest
tensiometers installed at 15–20 cm soil depth at five yield when applied water equaled 0.8 ET with furrow
levels of soil matric suction viz. 80, 120, 160, 200 and irrigation. A simulation analysis using the CROPMAN
240±20 cm, in addition to the recommended practice of model by Jalota et al. (2006) indicated that the yield of
alternate wetting and drying with an interval of 2 days chickpea to irrigation on coarse- to medium-textured
after complete infiltration of ponded water. The grain soils depends upon soil texture, the timings and
yield of rice remained unaffected up to soil moisture number of irrigations. The optimum yield (2 t ha−1) on
suction of 160±20 cm. Increasing soil matric suction to coarse- to medium-textured soils after rice can be
200 and 240±20 cm decreased rice grain yield non- obtained with one heavy pre-plant and two post-plant
significantly compared to the recommended practice irrigations, i.e., one in mid-February and one in mid-
of the 2-day interval for scheduling irrigation. March synchronizing irrigations with flowering and
Irrigation at 160±20 cm soil matric suction helped save grain development stages. Singh et al. (2007)
30–35% irrigation water compared to that used with conducted field studies in alluvial soils of north India
the 2-day interval irrigation. to determine water use, water use efficiency and yield
of sugarcane under various moisture regimes.
Rajput and Patel (2005) developed a simple device Irrigation scheduling was based on the ratio between
Irrischeduler, a modified version of tensiometer, for irrigation water and cumulative pan evaporation
scheduling irrigations. This device indicates the time (IW/CPE). Deep irrigations at 80 mm were applied at
for irrigation, based on the soil moisture level. In the IW/CPE ratios of 0.25, 0.50, 0.75, 1.00 and 1.25. They
Irrischeduler, a coloured float instead of vacuum gauge concluded that in subtropical India, irrigation of
is used to indicate the level of water in it. This provides sugarcane during the tillering period should be applied
an opportunity to monitor soil moisture fluctuations at IW/CPE ratios of 0.75 and 1.00 in silty clay loam
through change in water level in its tube. It may also and sandy loam soils, respectively.
enable marking one value on the tube indicating
maximum permissible drop of water level to indicate Buttar et al. (2007) determined the optimum timing for
the time for scheduling next irrigation. The device does the first and last irrigation of cotton on the basis of
not require the user to read from a gauge, which was meteorological approach for scheduling irrigations.
reported by farmers as cumbersome in their perception. Delay of first irrigation from 28 days after sowing
Performance evaluation of the developed device (DAS) to 42 DAS, irrespective of last irrigation,
indicated that it could be used for most type of soils, resulted in an increase of 8, 14 and 17% in seed cotton
except sandy and highly clayey soils. Field yield during first, second and third year, respectively.
experiments were conducted by Kibe et al. (2006) on The corresponding increases due to delay in the last
late sown wheat under adequate and limited water irrigation from 130 to 170 DAS were 14, 32 and 8%,
supply conditions on a sandy loam soil. Four levels of respectively. On the basis of 3 years average,
irrigation (I0, no post-sown irrigation; I1, one application of first and last irrigation at optimum time
irrigation at CRI stage; I2, two irrigations, each at (after 42 and 170 days after sowing) resulted in an
crown root initiation (CRI) and flowering stages; I3, increase of 36% in seed cotton yield without involving
four irrigations each given at CRI, jointing, flowering any additional cost. Water expense efficiency (WEE)
and dough stages) were applied. Progressive increase increased by 54%. Kumar et al. (2007) analyzed the

78 Annual Technical Volume

response of onion to different irrigation levels with representing semi-arid irrigated ecosystems in the
micro sprinkler irrigation system and found that Indo-Gangetic Plains. The models were evaluated for
irrigation had significant effect on growth parameters three water regimes [I4 (4 irrigations within the
of onion and subsequently influenced the crop yield. growing season), I3 (3 irrigations within the growing
The four treatments comprised different ratio of season) and I2 (2 irrigations within the growing
irrigation water (IW) to cumulative pan evaporation season)] and five N treatments (N0, N60, N90, N120
(CPE) namely 0.60 (T1), 0.80 (T2), 1.0 (T3) and 1.20 and N150). CropSyst predicted yield and biomass of
(T4). The best yields were recorded from T3 and T4, wheat more closely than CERES-Wheat. The DSSAT-
associated with the higher %age of bulbs having CSM-CERES-Wheat V4.0 model was calibrated and
diameter greater than 45 mm. Protein content in bulbs validated by Timsina et al (2008) for yield and
was highest when associated to T1, but the loss in irrigation scheduling of wheat at Ludhiana and
marketable produce during the storage was also Phillaur, Punjab, India. Three irrigation scheduling
highest in T1. Irrigation water use efficiency and water methods [soil water deficit (SWD)-based, growth
use efficiency both were highest in T2 and then stage-based, and ET-based] were evaluated. For the
declined with the increase in irrigation. They SWD-based scheduling, irrigation management depth
recommended that in water constraint situation, T2 was set to 75 cm with irrigation scheduled when SWD
would be the most appropriate irrigation level for reached 50% to replace 100% of the deficit. For growth
onion production with micro-sprinkler irrigation stage-based scheduling, irrigation was applied either
system. only once at one of the key growth stages [crown root
initiation (CRI), booting, flowering, and grain filling],
Three irrigations of 75 mm each and mulching were
twice (two stages in various combinations), thrice
recommended by Kar and Kumar (2007) for growing
(three stages in various combinations), or four times
potato in the eastern India when limited water was
(all four stages). For ET-driven irrigation, irrigations
available. Arora et al. (2007) examined the
were scheduled based on cumulative net ET0 (ET0-
applicability of the CERES-Wheat model under
rain) since the previous irrigation, for a range of net
variable climatic, irrigation, and fertilizer-nitrogen (N)
ET0 (25, 75, 125, 150, and 175 mm). Yields and Crop
regimes with the objective to analyze wheat yield
Water Productivity (CWP) were higher for SWD and
responses to water- and N-application for optimizing
ET75-based irrigations, but Irrigation Water
crop productivity under water limitations in a semi-
Productivity (IWP) was higher for ET75-based
arid sub-tropical irrigated environment. Evaluation
irrigation on sandy loam and for ET150-based
analysis showed that performance of the model was
irrigation on loam. They recommended that irrigation
reasonable as indicated by close correspondence of
be applied based on the atmospheric demand and soil
simulated crop phenology, biomass accumulation,
water status and not on the growth stage.
grain yield, and soil water and N use with measured
data. The normalized root mean square of deviations Gontia and Tiwari (2008) developed the relationship
ranged between 10 and 20% for most of the between canopy–air temperature difference and
parameters. Cumulative probability distribution of vapour pressure deficit for no stress condition of wheat
simulated grain yield and ET showed that for a given crop (baseline equations), which was used to quantify
irrigation regime, fertilizer N had greater effect on crop water stress index (CWSI) to schedule irrigation
yield than on ET and caused greater water productivity. in winter wheat crop grown in sub-humid subtropical
Scenario analysis also demonstrated that grain yield region of India. The maximum allowable depletion of
and water productivity response to irrigation were the available soil water of 10, 40 and 60 %, fully wetted
influenced by extractable water capacity of soils. Soil (no stress) and no irrigation (fully stressed) were
effects on grain yield were more pronounced under I0 maintained in the crop experiments. The lower (non-
regime, and the effect decreased with increase in stressed) and upper (fully stressed) baselines were
irrigation. Post-sown irrigation was more effective determined empirically from the canopy and ambient
under conditions of low initial soil water. Initial soil air temperature data obtained using infrared
mineral-N status influenced the amount of fertilizer N thermometry and vapour pressure deficit (VPD) under
for a given initial soil water and post-sown irrigation fully watered and maximum water stress crop,
scenario. respectively. The canopy–air temperature difference
and VPD resulted linear relationships and the slope (m)
Two dynamic mechanistic models (CERES (Crop and intercept (c) for lower baseline of pre-heading and
Environment REsource Synthesis)-Wheat and post-heading stages of wheat crop were found m = -
CropSyst (Cropping Systems Simulation Model)) 1.7466, c = -1.2646 and m = -1.1141, c = -2.0827,
were validated for predicting growth and yield of respectively. The CWSI was determined by using the
wheat under different nitrogen and water management developed empirical equations for three irrigation
conditions by Singh et al. (2008) for New Delhi schedules of different MAD of ASW. The established

Annual Technical Volume 79

CWSI values can be used for monitoring plant water crop in coarse lateritic soil. Irrigation schedule was
status and planning irrigation scheduling for wheat found to have significant effect on nitrogen leaching
crop. They concluded that the CWSI values indicated loss whereas no significant effect on nitrogen uptake
the moisture stresses and also reflected the water phosphorus leaching. They recommended irrigation
requirement at different crop growth stages of wheat schedule with 49% MAD ofASW for maximum yield.
crop. The CWSIVPD, is a non-contact, rapid and area-
As it is evident from the above discussions that there
integrating technique for measurement of plant water
are numerous advanced methods of irrigation
stress and can be estimated using semi-empirical
scheduling available in scientific domain; however,
approach with observations of canopy–air temperature
only a small proportion of farmers and stake holders
difference and VPD. It indicates the actual moisture
are aware about their benefits and role in water
sensitive growth stages of the crop and shows the real
management. There could be many reasons to explain
moisture stress of plant, unlike soil moisture stress,
this lack of adoption such as: (i) lack of flexibility; (ii)
which gives the water requirement of soil mass in the
non-economic pricing of water; (iii) cost of irrigation
root zone irrespective of the plant needs. Therefore,
scheduling; (iv) lack of education and training; (v)
CWSI can be used as a diagnosis tool for irrigation
institutional problems; and (vi) behavioural
scheduling and the baselines developed for computing
adaptation. A greater obstacle, however, is the lack of
the CWSIVPD for pre-heading and post-heading
interactive communication between researchers,
stages of wheat crop can be used to determine the crop
extensionists and farmers. Therefore, more emphasis
water stress and irrigation scheduling of wheat crop in
is required towards applied research and
the study region. The treatment with 40% MAD of
demonstration, particularly at the on-farm level. The
ASW resulted in higher crop yield and water use
communication between the groups involved in the
efficiency. The average upper limit of CWSI value of
research/extension/farmer continuum would be the
0.3 corresponds to this treatment and whenever, this
key to the development and uptake of relevant and
limit exceeds crop should be irrigated. However, at
useful irrigation scheduling methodology. Therefore,
CRI stage irrigation should be applied irrespective of
the efforts should be directed towards establishing
the crop water stress values to avoid the stress effect on
good communications between those responsible for
the crop yield. The semi empirical equations
water delivery, water distribution and water
developed for CWSIVPD can be used to determine the
application. An active involvement of farmers,
crop water stress using observed canopy–air
researchers and extension workers would be a very
temperature difference (Tc - Ta) and vapour pressure
conducive continuum to achieve desired results.
deficit (VPD) for pre-heading and post-heading stages
of the wheat crop grown in the study region. Summary
Field experiment with rajmash on a sandy loam soil Irrigation scheduling aimed at to determine the
(Aeric Haplaquept) in eastern India by Kundu et al. frequency and dosage of irrigation applications is
(2008) and Kundu and Sarkar (2009) resulted in the required to optimize water use while at the same time
highest leaf area index (LAI), biomass, grain yield and maximizing crop yield farm profit. The fundamentals
water use efficiency under the combination of to the different irrigation scheduling approaches, viz.,
CPE33–P90 (irrigation at 33mm cumulative pan plant indicators, soil indicators, and water balance
evaporation and 90 kg P2O5 ha-1 phosphate fertilizer techniques with their merits and demerits, including
application). Field experiments on rice conducted at meteorological approaches and automated irrigation
Ludhiana on a deep alluvial loamy sand Typic scheduling systems have been discussed besides soil,
Ustipsamment soils showed that with managing plant, and water relationships and different crop
irrigation scheduling based on soil water suction of 16 characteristics. Approaches based on computer
kPa at 15–20 cm soil depth, though 700 mm irrigation simulations, meteorological approaches, and
water was saved but the associated yield was reduced automated systems using advanced sensing based
by 277 kg ha−1 (Jalota et al., 2009). Effect of technologies have also been described. The techniques
fertilization and irrigation schedule on water based on remote sensing can enhance the efficacy of
movement and fertilizer solute transport in wheat crop irrigation scheduling. Out of the three main
field in a sub-tropical sub-humid region was studied by approaches, although the plant-based sensing has
Behera and Panda (2009). Three irrigation treatments, several potential advantages, including a greater
10% maximum allowable depletion (MAD) of relevance to plant functioning than soil-based
available soil water (ASW); 40% MAD of ASW and measures, these have been offset by a number of
60% MAD of ASW were studied. The results of the practical difficulties of implementation that have far
investigation revealed that low volume high frequency limited the development of commercially successful
irrigation results in higher deep percolation losses than systems. However, pressures for enhanced water use
the low frequency high volume irrigation for wheat efficiency and for greater precision in irrigation

80 Annual Technical Volume

systems are invoke the development of more robust of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) and second crop
irrigation scheduling systems that take account of the corn (Zea mays L.) in western Turkey. Agric. Water
irrigation need of individual plants and involve greater Manag. 82, pp 63–85.
use of plant-based sensing systems. Lastly major 12. Das, D.K. (1991). Use of remote sensing technique in
irrigation scheduling based studies conducted in India s c h e d u l i n g i r r i g a t i o n .
have been briefly summarized.
13. Doorenboss, J., and Kassam, A.H. (1979). Yield
1. Allen, R.G., Pereira, L.S., Raes, D., Smith M. (1999). response to water. FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper
Crop evapotranspiration. FAO Irrigation and Drainage No. 33, FAO, Rome, Italy, pp.181.
Paper, 56. Rome: FAO.
14. Dry, P.R., Loveys, B.R. (1998). Factors influencing
2. Arora, V.K., Singh, H. and Singh, B. (2007). Analyzing grapevine vigour and the potential for control with
wheat productivity responses to climatic, irrigation partial rootzone drying. Australian Journal of Grape
and fertilizer-nitrogen regimes in a semi-arid sub- and Wine Research 4, pp 140–148.
tropical environment using the CERES-Wheat model.
Agricultural Water Management, 94 (1-3), pp 22-30. 15. Durai, R., 1997. Study on stress management in
sugarcane. Cooperative Sug. 29, pp 102–104.
3. Bandyopadhyay, P.K. and Mallick, S. (2003). Actual
evapotranspiration and crop coefficients of wheat 16. Evans, D.E., Sadler, E.J., Camp, C.R., Millen, J.A.
(Triticum aestivum) under varying moisture levels of (2001). Spatial canopytemperature measurements
humid tropical canal command area. Agricultural using center pivot mounted IRTs. Proceedings of the
Water Management, 59 (1), pp 33-47. 5th International Conference on Precision Agriculture,
Bloomington, Minnesota, July, 2000, pp 1–11.
4. Bauder, J., and Lundstorm, D.R. (1977). Tensiometers,
their use, installation and maintenance. Extension 17. Fereres, E., and Evans, R.G., (2006). Irrigation of fruit
Circular AE 100, North Dakota Agric. Experimental trees and vines: an introduction. Irrig. Sci. 24, pp
Station, N.D. 55–57.

5. Behera, S.K. and Panda, R.K. (2009). Effect of 18. Fischbach, P.E. (1965). Scheduling irrigation by
fertilization and irrigation schedule on water and electrical resistance blocks. Nebguide 77-340.
fertilizer solute transport for wheat crop in a sub- University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., pp 65-752.
humid sub-tropical region. Agriculture, Ecosystems & 19. Fortes, P., Platonov, A., Pereira, L., (2005).
Environment, 130 (3-4), pp 141-155. GISAREG—a GIS based irrigation scheduling
6. Buttar, G.S., Aujla, M.S., Thind, H.S., Singh, C.J. and simulation model to support improved water use.
Saini, K.S. (2007). Effect of timing of first and last Agric. Water Manag. 77, pp 159–179.
irrigation on the yield and water use efficiency in 20. Gangaiah, B. (2005). Response of oat (Avena sativa)
cotton. Agricultural Water Management, 89 (3), pp varieties to irrigation schedules. Indian Journal of
236-242. Agronomy (India). 50(2), p. pp 165-166.
7. Cancela, J., Cuesta, T., Neira, X., Pereira, L., (2006). 21. George, B.A. Raghuwanshi, N.S. and Singh, R.
Modelling for improved irrigation water management (2004). Development and testing of a GIS integrated
in a temperate region of Northern Spain. Biosyst. Eng. irrigation scheduling model. Agricultural Water
94, pp 151–163. Management, 66, pp 221–237.
8. Chalmers, D.J, Burge, G., Jerie, P.H., Mitchell, P.D. 22. George, B.A., Shende, S.A., Raghuwanshi, N.S.,
(1986). The mechanism of regulation of Bartlett pear (2000). Development and testing of an irrigation
fruit and vegetative growth by irrigation withholding scheduling model. Agric. Water Manage. 46 (2), pp
and regulated deficit irrigation. Journal of the 121–136.
American Society of Horticultural Science 111, pp
904–907. 23. Gontia, N.K. and Tiwari, K.N. (2008). Development of
crop water stress index of wheat crop for scheduling
9. Chalmers, D.J., Mitchell, P.D., Vanheek, L. (1981). irrigation using infrared thermometry. Agricultural
Control of peach tree growth and productivity by Water Management, 95, pp 1144 – 1152.
regulated water supply, tree density and summer
pruning. Journal of the American Society of 24. Grassini, P., Yang, H., Irmak, S., Thorburn, J., Burr, C.,
Horticultural Science 106, pp 307–312. Cassman, K.G., (2011). High-yield irrigated maize in
the Western US Corn Belt: II. Irrigation management
10. Colaizzi, P.D., Barnes ,E.M., Clarke, T.R., Choi, C.Y., and crop water productivity. Field Crops Res. 120, pp
Waller, P.M., Haberland, J., Kostrzewski, M., (2003). 133–141.
Water stress detection under high frequency sprinkler
irrigation with water deficit index. Journal of Irrigation 25. Gulati, M.L., Mishra, M.M., Pal, J.C., Hati, N., (1995).
and Drainage Engineering 129, pp 36–42. Cane yield and water use efficiency of autumn planted
sugarcane under soil and intercropping stand at
11. Daĝdelen, N., Yilmaz, E., Sezgin, F., Gürbüz, T., different levels of irrigation. Indian J. Agron. 40, pp
(2006). Water-yield relation and water use efficiency 279–288.

Annual Technical Volume 81

26. Haise, H.R., and Hagen, R.M. (1967). Predicting control of water status in horticultural crops.
irrigation needs. Irrigation of agricultural lands. R.M. HortScience 25, pp 19–26.
Hagen et al., eds., Am. Soc. of Agronomy, Madison,
40. Jones, H.G. (2004). Irrigation scheduling: advantages
Wisc., Monograph No. 11, pp 577-604.
and pitfalls of plant-based methods. J. Experimental
27. Home, P.G., Panda, R.K. and Kar,S. (2002), Effect of Botany, 55(407), Water-Saving Agriculture Special
method and scheduling of irrigation on water and Issue, pp. pp 2427–2436.
nitrogen use efficiencies of Okra (Abelmoschus
41. Kacira, M., Ling, P.P., Short, T.H., (2002).
esculentus). Agricultural Water Management, 55 (2),
Establishing crop water stress index (CWSI) threshold
2002, pp 159-170.
values for early, non-contact detection of plant water
28. Huguet J-G, Li SH, Lorendeau JY, Pellous G. (1992). stress. Transactions of the American Society of
Specific micromorphometric reactions of fruit trees to Agricultural Engineers 45, pp 775–780.
water stress and irrigation scheduling automation.
42. Kacir,a M., Ling ,P.P., (2001). Design and
Journal of Horticultural Science 67, pp 631–40.
development of an automated non-contact sensing
29. ICAR (1987) Handbook of agriculture. Indian Council system for continuous monitoring of plant health and
ofAgricultural Research, New Delhi. growth. Transactions of the American Society of
Agricultural Engineers 44, pp 989–996.
30. Iqbal, M.M., Shah, S.M.., Mohammad,W., and Nawaz,
H. (1999). Field response of potato subjected to water 43. Kanemasu , E.T., Chen, A.J., Powers, W.L., and Teare,
stress at different growth stages. In: Kirda, C., I.D. (1973). Stomatal resistance as an indicator of
Moutonnet, P., Hera, C., Nielsen, D.R. (eds), Crop water stress. Trans. Kansas acad. Sci. 76(2), pp 159-
yield response to Deficit irrigation. Kluwer Academic 166.
Publishers, The Netherlands, pp 213-223.
44. Kar, G., and Verma, H.N. (2005). Phenology based
31. Jackson, R.D., (1982). Canopy temperature and crop irrigation scheduling and determination of crop
water stress. Advances in Irrigation, vol. I. Academic coefficient of winter maize in rice fallow of eastern
Press, New York. India. Agricultural Water Management, 75, pp
32. Jackson, R.D., Idso, S.B., Reginato, R.J., Pinter Jr.,
P.J., (1981). Canopy temperature as a crop water stress 45. Kar, G., and Kumar,A. (2007). Effects of irrigation and
indicator. Water Resources Research 17 (4), pp straw mulch on water use and tuber yield of potato in
1133–1138. eastern India. Agricultural Water Management, 94 (1-
3), pp 109-116.
33. Jackson, R.D., Reginato, R.J., and Idso, S.B. (1977).
Wheat canopy temperatures: a practical tool for 46. Kashyap, P.S. and Panda, R.K. (2003). Effect of
evaluating water requirements. water Resour. Res., irrigation scheduling on potato crop parameters under
Vol. 13, pp 651-656. water stressed conditions. Agricultural Water
Management, 59, pp 49–66.
34. Jain, A.K. and Murty, V.V.N. (1985). Simulation of soil
moisture profiles for scheduling of irrigations. 47. Khepar, S.D., Yadav, A.K., Sondhi, S.K., Siag, M.,
Agricultural Water Management, 10 (2), pp 175-181. (2000).Water balance model for paddy fields under
intermittent irrigation practices. Irrig. Sci. 19 (4), pp
35. Jain, L.L., Panda, R.K. and Sharma, C.P. (1997). Water
stress response function for groundnut (Arachis
hypogaea L.). Agricultural Water Management, 32, pp 48. Kibe, A.M., Singh, S. and Kalra, N. (2006).
197–209. Water–nitrogen relationships for wheat growth and
productivity in late sown conditions. Agricultural
36. Jalota, S.K. Sood, A. and Harman, W.L. (2006).
Water Management, 84 (3), pp 221-228.
Assessing the response of chickpea (Cicer aeritinum
L.) yield to irrigation water on two soils in Punjab 49. Kukal, S.S., Hira, G.S. and Sidhu, A.S. (2005). Soil
(India): A simulation analysis using the CROPMAN matric potential-based irrigation scheduling to rice
model. Agricultural Water Management, 79 (3), pp (Oryza sativa). Irrig Sci., 23, pp 153–159.
50. Kumar, S., Imtiyaz, M., Kumar, A. and Singh, R.
37. Jalota, S.K., Singh, K.B., Chahal, G.B.S., Gupta, R.K., (2007). Response of onion (Allium cepa L.) to
Chakraborty, S., Sood, A., Ray, S.S. and Panigrahy, S. different levels of irrigation water. Agricultural Water
(2009). Integrated effect of transplanting date, cultivar Management, 89 (1-2), pp 161-166.
and irrigation on yield, water saving and water
51. Kundu, M. and Sarkar,S. (2009). Growth and
productivity of rice (Oryza sativa L.) in Indian Punjab:
evapotranspiration pattern of rajmash (Phaseolus
Field and simulation study. Agricultural Water
vulgaris L.) under varying irrigation schedules and
Management, 96 (7), pp 1096-1104.
phosphate levels in a hot sub-humid climate.
38. Jones, H.G., (1990a). Plant water relations and Agricultural Water Management, 96 (8), pp 1268-
implications for irrigation scheduling. Acta 1274.
Horticulturae 278, pp 67–76.
52. Kundu, M., Chakraborty, P.K., Mukherjee, A. and
39. Jones, H.G., (1990b). Physiological aspects of the Sarkar, S. (2008). Influence of irrigation frequencies

82 Annual Technical Volume

and phosphate fertilization on actual 65. Rajak, D., Manjunatha, M.V., Rajkumar, G.R.,
evapotranspiration rate, yield and water use pattern of Hebbara, M. and Minhas, P.S. (2006). Comparative
rajmash (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Agricultural Water effects of drip and furrow irrigation on the yield and
Management, 95 (4), pp 383-390. water productivity of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.)
in a saline and waterlogged vertisol. Agricultural
53. Leinonen I, Jones HG. (2004). Combining thermal and
Water Management, 83 (1-2), pp 30-36.
visible imagery for estimating canopy temperature and
identifying plant stress. Journal of Experimental 66. Rajput, T.B.S. and Patel, N. (2005). Irrischeduler- a
Botany 55, pp 1423–1431. simple device for scheduling irrigations. IE(I) Journal-
AG, 86, pp 52-53.
54. Mahan, J.R., Burke, J.J., Upchurch, D.R., Wanjura,
D.F., (2000). Irrigation scheduling using biologically- 67. Rao, N.H. (1987). Field test of a simple soil water
based optimal temperature and continuous monitoring balance model for irrigation. J. of Hydrology, 91, pp
of canopy temperature. Acta Horticulturae, 537, pp 179-186.
68. Rao, N.H., Brownee, S.M., and Sarma, P.B.S. (2004).
55. Malavia, D.D., Khanpara, V.D., Shobhana, H.K., GIS-based decision support system for real time water
Kolakiya, B.A., (1995). A comparison of irrigation demand estimation in canal irrigation systems. Current
methods in arid and semi arid western Gujarat in India. Science, 87(5), pp 628-636.
In: Lamm, F.R. (Ed.), Micro Irrigation for Changing
69. Rao, N.H., Samra, P.B.S. and Chander, S. (1992). Real-
World: Conserving Resources and Preserving the
time adaptive irrigation scheduling under a limited
Environment. Proceedings of the V International
water supply. Agriculture Water Management 20, pp
Micro irrigation Congress, Orelands, Florida, USA,
April 2–6, 1995. American Soc. Agric. Engineers, St.
Joseph MI, USA, pp. pp 464–469. 70. Rao, N.H., Sarma, P.B.S. and Chander, S. (1988a).
Irrigation scheduling under a limited water supply.
56. Merriam, J.L. (1960). Field method for approximating
Agricultural Water Management, 15, pp 165-175.
soil moisture for irrigation. Trans. ASAE, 3(1), pp 1-
31. 71. Rao, N.H., Sarma, P.B.S. and Chander, S. (1988b). A
simple dated water production function for use in
57. Michael, A.M. (1978). Irrigation Theory and Practice.
irrigated agriculture. Agricultural Water Management,
Vikash Publishing House Private Limited, New Delhi,
13, pp 25-32.
Reprint 1999, pp 448–584.
72. Rao, N.H., Sarma, P.B.S. and Chander, S. (1990).
58. Panda, R.K. ,Behera, S.K. and Kashyap, P.S. (2004).
Optimal multicrop allocation of seasonal and
Effective management of irrigation water for maize
intraseasonal irrigation water. Water Resources
under stressed conditions. Agricultural Water
Research, 26, pp 551-559.
Management, 66 (3), pp 181-203.
73. Reddy, C.R. and Reddy, S.R. (1993). Scheduling
59. Panda, R.K., Behera, S.K., Kashyap, P.S., 2003.
irrigation for peanuts with variable amounts of
Effective management of irrigation water for wheat
available water. Agricultural Water Management, 23,
under stressed conditions. Agriculture Water
pp 1–9.
Management 63 (1), pp 37–56.
74. Reddy, M.G., Rao, Y.Y., Subba Rao, K. and
60. Parihar, S.S., Gajri, P.R. and Narang, R.S. (1974).
Ramaseshaiah, K. (1983). A preliminary study on
Scheduling irrigation to wheat using open pan
scheduling irrigation with can evaporimeters.
evaporation. Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences,
Agricultural Water Management, 6 (4), pp 403-407.
44, pp 567-571.
75. Sadler, E.J., Camp, C.R., Evans, D.E., Millen, J.A.,
61. Phene, C.J., Itier, B., and Reginato, R.J. (1990).
(2002). Corn canopy temperatures measured with a
Sensing irrigation needs. Visions of the future: Proc.
moving infrared thermometer array. Transactions of
3rd Nat. Irrig. Symp. Am. Soc. of Agric. Engrs.
the American Society of Agricultural Engineers 45, pp
(ASAE). St. Joseph. Mich., pp 429-443.
62. Plant, R.E., Horrocks, R.D,. Grimes, D.W., Zelinski,
76. Sailasree, S.P., Reddy, B.B., Kamala, P.M. (2004).
L.J., (1992). CALEX/ Cotton: an integrated expert
Effect of tillage practices and irrigation schedules on
system application for irrigation scheduling.
performance of castor in rice fallows. Annals of
Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural
Agricultural Research (India). 25(2) p. pp 274- 277.
Engineers 35, pp 1833–1838.
77. Sandhu, B.S., Prihar, S.S. and Khera, K.L. (1980).
63. Popova, Z., Pereira, L.S., (2008). Irrigation scheduling
Sugarcane response to irrigation and straw mulch in a
for furrow-irrigated maize under climate uncertainties
subtropical region. Agricultural Water Management, 3
in the Thrace plain, Bulgaria. Biosyst. Eng. 99, pp
(1), pp 35-44.
78. Schmidt U, Exarchou E. (2000). Controlling of
64. Raghuvanshi, N.S., Wallender, W.W., (1998).
irrigation systems of greenhouse plants by using
Optimization of furrow irrigation schedules, designs
measured transpiration sum. Acta Horticulturae 537,
and net return to water. Agric. Water Manage. 35 (3),
pp 487–494.
pp 209–226.

Annual Technical Volume 83

79. Sharma, D.K. and Singh, K.N. (1993). Effect of 91. Stegman, E.C., Musick, J.T., and Stewart, J.I. (1980).
irrigation on growth, yield and evapotranspiration of Irrigation water management. Design and operation of
mustard (Brassica juncea) in partially reclaimed sodic farm irrigation systems, 3rd Ed., M.E. Jensen, ed., Am.
soils. Agricultural Water Management, 23 (3), pp 225- Soc. ofAgric. Engrs., st. Joseph, Mich., pp763-816.
92. Stegman, E.C., Schiele, L.H., and Bauer, A. (1976).
80. Sharma, D.K., Kumar, A. and Singh, K.N. (1990). Plant water stress criteria for irrigation scheduling.
Effect of irrigation scheduling on growth, yield and Trans.ASAE, 19(5), pp 850-855.
evapotranspiration of wheat in sodic soils. Agricultural
Water Management, 18 (3), pp 267-276. 93. Stoll, M., Dry, P., Loveys, B., Stewart, D., McCarthy,
M., (2000b). Partial rootzone drying: effects on root
81. Shirgure, P.S.; Srivastava, A.K.; Singh, S. (2004). distribution and commercial application of a new
Integrated water and nutrient management in acid lime irrigation technique. Australian and New Zealand
(Citrus aurantifolia Swingle) Indian Journal of Soil Wine Industry Journal 15, pp 74–76.
Conservation. pp 148-151.
94. Stoll, M., Loveys, B., Dry, P., (2000a). Hormonal
82. Shrivastava, P. K., Parikh, M. M., Sawani, N. G. and changes induced by partial rootzone drying of irrigated
Raman, N. G. (1994). Effect of drip irrigation and grapevine. Journal of Experimental Botany 51,
mulching on tomato yield. Agricultural Water pp1627–1634.
Management, 25 (2), pp 179-184.
95. Subramanien, K.S., Nandagopal, A., Selvakumari, G.,
83. Singh R. S., Ramakrishna Y. S. and Joshi N. L. (1996).
(1989). Irrigation need of sugarcane at critical stages.
Growth response of mustard [Brassica juncea(L.)
SISSTASug. J. 3, pp 111–113.
Czern & Coss] to irrigation levels in relation to
temperature and radiation regimes. Journal of Arid 96. Swaney, D.P., Jones, J.W., Boggess, W.G., Wilkerson,
Environments, 33 (3), pp 379-388. G.G. and Mishoe, J.W. (1983). Real-time irrigation
84. Singh, A.K., Tripathy, R. and Chopra, U.K. (2008). decision analysis using simulation. Trans. ASAE,
Evaluation of CERES-Wheat and CropSyst models for 26(2), pp 562-568.
water–nitrogen interactions in wheat crop. 97. Thanki, J.D., Patel, P.A., Damame, H.S., 2000.
Agricultural Water Management, 95 (7), pp 776-786. Irrigation scheduling on the basis of climatological
85. Singh, C.B.; Khera, K.L.; Sandhu, B.S.; Aujila, T.S. approach to sugarcane. Indian Sug. 49 (11), pp
(2004). Optimizing irrigation schedule to spring 905–907.
sunflower sown on loamy sand and sandy loam soils. 98. Timsina, J., Godwin, D., Humphreys, E., Singh, Y.,
Indian Journal of Soil Conservation. pp 221-224. Singh, B., Kukal, S.S. and Smith, D. (2008).
86. Singh, G., Singh, P.N. and Bhushan,L.S. (1980). Water Evaluation of options for increasing yield and water
use and wheat yields in northern India under different productivity of wheat in Punjab, India using the
irrigation regimes. Agricultural Water Management, 3 DSSAT-CSM-CERES-Wheat model. Agricultural
(2), pp 107-114. Water Management, 95 (9), pp 1099-1110.
87. Singh, P.N., Joshi, B.P. and Singh, G. (1987). Water use 99. Upchurch, D.R.,Wanjara, D.F., Mahan, J.R., (1990).
and yield response of wheat to irrigation and nitrogen Automating trickle irrigation using continuous canopy
on an alluvial soil in North India. Agricultural Water temperature measurements.Acta Horticulturae 278, pp
Management, 12 (4), pp 311-321. 299–308.
88. Singh, P.N., Mohan, S.C., 1994. Water use and yield 100. Yadav, R.L., Singh, S.R., Prasad, K., Dwivedi, B.S.,
response of sugarcane under different irrigation Batta, R.K., Singh, A.K., Patil, N.G. and Chaudhary,
schedules and nitrogen levels in a subtropical region. S.K. (2000). Management of irrigated agro-ecosystem.
Agric. Water Manage. 26(4), pp 253–264. In: Yadav and Singh, (Eds.), Natural Resource
89. Singh, P.N., Shukla, S.K., and Bhatnagar, V.K. (2007). Management for Agricultural Production in India.
Optimizing soil moisture regime to increase water use Indian Society of Soil Science, New Delhi.
efficiency of sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrid 101. Yang, S.F., Qian, D.P., Huo, X.J., Okushima, L., Sase,
complex) in subtropical India. Agricultural Water S., (2003). Computerized precision irrigation system
Management. 90, pp 95 – 100. based on estimation of crop water stress with acoustic
90. Singh, R. and Singh, J. (1997). Irrigation planning in emission technique. In: Kang SZ, Davies WJ, Shan L,
wheat (Triticum aestivum) under deep water table Cai HJ, eds. Water saving agriculture and sustainable
conditions through simulation modelling. Agricultural use of water and land resources. Xian, PR China:
Water Management, 33 (1), pp 19-29. Shaanxi Science and Technology Press, 480–483.

84 Annual Technical Volume

Status of Irrigation Efficiency in India
Ashish Pandey
Associate Professor
Department of Water Resources Development and Management
Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee

Introduction to poor utilization of the water resources in India.

Improvement in the performance of irrigation schemes Therefore, the need of the hour is to increase the
in India has emerged as one of challenging issues for irrigation efficiency of existing projects and use saved
agricultural development. Irrigation efficiency is an water for irrigating new areas. At present average
indicator of effective and judicious use of irrigation overall project efficiency of several canal irrigation
water management. Therefore, for improving the projects in the rice growing areas in the world has been
irrigation efficiencies it is very important to keep track estimated to be 23% and that of nonpaddy crops to be
of where the water is going within the gross command 40 % (Walters and Boss, 1989). Most of the area in the
area or boundaries of the system. Water balance studies country is irrigated by surface application methods
in the command area could help the planners to such as check basin, border strip and furrow. The
understand where the water within the command area application efficiency of these methods has been found
of the scheme is actually going, which helps in to be only 30 to 50 %. This is due to the fact that these
correcting the management strategies. According to methods are not designed to match the stream size, soil
IWMI (2000), water balance provides information type, slope etc. By adopting efficient irrigation
about all inflows and outflows within a defined practices, deep percolation losses can be reduced. By
boundary and also provides different water efficiencies growing row crops, particularly cotton, maize,
such as conveyance efficiency, delivery efficiency, and sugarcane, soyabean and sunflower under ridge and
application efficiency, while taking into account the furrow irrigation system about 30-40 % irrigation
multiple uses of water within the scheme. water can be saved compared to border irrigation. It is
reported that on-farm irrigation efficiency for trickle
Water is becoming increasingly scarce worldwide and irrigation can theoretically approach 90 to 95% (Bucks
more than one-third of the world population would et al.1982). The problem of water scarcity in India is
face absolute water scarcity by the year 2025 (Seckler due to spatial variation in demand and supply of water.
et al. 1998; Seckler et al. 1999; Rosegrant et al. 2002). In India, a number of demand management strategies
The situation in India is also critical, where absolute in the irrigation sector have been introduced with a
water scarcity is already affecting a substantial part of view to increasing the water use efficiency
the population and this proportion is increasing rapidly (Vaidyanathan 1998; Dhawan 2002). However, the net
(Amarasinghe et al. 2005, 2007). Irrigation is the impact of these strategies in increasing the water use
largest water consuming sector, accounting for. efficiency so far has not been very impressive.
India is amongst the largest irrigator countries in the Increasing water use efficiency is one of the five goals
world today. In India it accounts for more than 80 % of of the National Water Mission under national action
the total withdrawals. In India irrigation potential plan on climate change.
created has not brought into the functional system due Irrigation consumes maximum amount of water as
to low operating efficiency, less crop productivity etc. compared to industrial uses and municipal supply.
With the increasing awareness, studies have been Improvement in irrigation efficiency will also help
carried out to estimate the %age of water losses in each considerably in enhancing the availability of water for
part of the distribution system. In India CBIP the drinking purpose. This study is envisaged to review
Publication number 14 reported 17, 8 and 20 % of the prevailing water conveyance, application and its
water losses in main canal, distributaries and field or management practices.
water course system respectively. The overall
efficiency of canal irrigation system in India is only 30- Brief Review
35% (Sanmuganathan and Bolton, 1988). Low Just 20% of the world's croplands are irrigated but they
irrigation efficiency of these systems also contributes produce 40% of the global harvest which means that

Annual Technical Volume 85

irrigation doubles the land productivity (FAO, 2003). of determination previously proposed is not a valid
About 50% of the total developed fresh water index of performance and suggested a new index
resources of Asia are devoted to growing rice (Barker defined as the relationship between the concepts of
et al., 2001). Increasing water scarcity threatens the Management by Results (MBR). In MBR, the results
sustainability of irrigated agriculture, and hence food (R) are defined as the relationship between the
security. predicted outputs (Po) of the system and the actual
Postel (1993) estimated the worldwide irrigation results (Ao) obtained from operation of the system.
efficiency, i.e. the amount of water used as The results are expressed as a ratio, R = AO/PO . If the
evapotranspiration compared to the amount of water system is performing perfectly, Ao = Po and R = 1.0.
delivered to the field, to be about 37%. This estimate The index is applied to a sample of 39 farms on a
suggests that about 63% of the water delivered to the watercourse under the warabandi system of irrigation
field is lost as runoff, drainage, or both. This means management in India. It is found that while the farmers
that in addition to 30% of water wasted in storage and in fact irrigated almost exactly the total amount of
conveyance, about 44% of the total water available at irrigated area as designed, inter-farm variations were
the source is lost as runoff and/or drainage. Wallace considerable. The index shows that the degree of error
(2000) suggests that some of the water “lost” from an of managerial effectiveness of irrigation on this
irrigated field may return to aquifers or streams from watercourse is 20 %. Therefore it is concluded that the
which it can be extracted again, provided the necessary system is performing at 80 % effectiveness.
infrastructure is available and the water quality has not Another field study of the performance of Warabandi
deteriorated beyond acceptable limits. in Punjab (India) is described by Goldsmith & Makin
Malhotra et al. (1984a) described a methodology for (1988). The field measurement was tested for 24 days
monitoring the performance of large-scale irrigation during February and March 1988 in Ferozpur District
system using a case study of a warabandi system of of south-west Punjab. The study area includes the
northwest India. The study area covered a distributory commands of Mudki and Golewala Distributaries.
with a command area of 22389 ha. An important Mudki Distributory has a command area of 30894 ha
contribution of their study is the use of “wetted area” as and serves 2 minor canals and 59 watercourses.
an indicator of water supply for a farmer's field in a Golewala Distributory has a command of 28727 ha and
water-deficient system. They defined the net wetted supplies 3 minors and 59 watercourses. Both
area (NWA) as the area of farmer's land that is wetted at Distributaries and majority of water courses have been
least once in an irrigation season; the total wetted area lined over the past eight years. Measurements were
(TWA) is the NWA multiplied by the number of made of flows, losses and water levels in order to give
irrigations that the area receives. The area of every estimates of equity of supply, adequacy of supply,
individual farmer that can be irrigated is measured and seepage and conveyance losses at both distributory
recorded. This area is called the cultivable command and watercourse level. The flow and seepage was
area (CCA). In the case study of warabandi system, the measured using the portable current meter and
predicted outputs are: (1) NWA is equal to one-third of Ponding test respectively. A normalized equity called
CCA; and (2) TWA is equal to 133 % of CCA. By IQR (Abernethy 1986) was calculated for each
measuring the actual outputs of NWA and TWA it is distributory and compared with similar schemes.
possible to determine if the results of the warabandi Patterns of supply ratio (actual/design flows) for each
system are within an acceptable range of error. They watercourse along the distributory were identified and
also defined the allocative efficiency as the coefficient variations explained in terms of difference between
of determination between the wetted area after a “designed” and “as-built” off take structures. The
watering on each farm (NWA), and the farm area measured IQR was 1.35 for Golewala Distributory is
(CCA). This will be one when there is perfect equity, in very good and conveyance efficiency was 53 % at
the sense that every farmer receives a share present, but this may fall to 42% without improved
proportional to the size of holding. The conclusion was maintenance of linings.
that allocative effectiveness was 80% at the In several irrigated regions, shortage of water and
distributory level and 90% at the watercourse level. inadequate availability of funds maintaining irrigation
Seckler et al. (1988) in a continuation of the analysis of works have focused attention on the potential for water
the Malhotra et al. (1984) study, develop a charges to generate financial resources and reduce
performance index for measuring the performance of demand for water through volume-based charges
irrigation systems. They concluded that the coefficient (Perry, 2001).

86 Annual Technical Volume

A field study of water losses and estimation of Among advanced micro-irrigation (MI) techniques,
irrigation efficiency was carried out on Dabathua drip and sprinklers are gaining special attention. Drip
distributor in Salwa command area by Sharma (1982). irrigation (DIM) and sprinkler irrigation (SIM)
The study shows that in unlined water course the rate of methods have distinct characteristics in parameters
conveyance loss was more than twice than that of the such as flow rate, pressure requirement, wetted area
main, distributaries and minor canals. Using inflow and mobility (Kulkarni 2005), but they have the
outflow method, it was estimated at 1.16 × 10-5 m3/m potential of significantly increasing water use
of channel (10.70 m 3/10 6 m2) whereas seepage loss efficiency. DIM has little or no water losses through
rate measured using ponding method was found in the conveyance (INCID 1994; Narayanamoorthy 1996,
order of about 4.4 m3/106 m2. This shows that 1997; Dhawan 2002), and the on-farm irrigation
conveyance losses are approximately two time the efficiency of a properly designed and managed drip
seepage losses. Overall efficiency below outlet has irrigation system can be as high as 90 %, compared
been estimated to be 40 %. Total seepage losses in the with 35 to 40 % efficiency in surface method of
Ganga canal were found to be about 44%, (Choudhury, irrigation (INCID 1994). However, SIM has relatively
1982). These losses include 15% in main canal and less water saving (up to 70 % efficiency), since it
branches, 7% in distributaries and 22 % in water supplies water over the entire field of the crop (INCID
courses. From the above results, it may be concluded 1998; Kulkarni 2005). Besides higher water use
that the watercourses are the major source of water efficiency, MI has other economic and social benefits
loss. too. Research station experiments show MI increases
Detailed studies on water use efficiency for 30 productivity by 20 to 90 % for different crops (INCID
irrigation project in India were carried out by various 1994, 1998); reduces weeds, soil erosion; cost of
WALMIs/ IMTIs for CWC (CWC, 2010), the findings cultivation, especially in labour-intensive operations;
of these studies will be appropriately utilised in this energy use (electricity) for operating irrigation wells
study. The summary of the outcome of these studies is due to reduced water consumption (Narayanamoorthy
presented in Table 1. MoWR has also implemented 1996 and 2001). Summary report of water-use
farmers Participatory Action Program on Pilot basis efficiency studies for 30 irrigation projects in India is
under which related methods and techniques, given in Table 1.
agricultural practices has been demonstrated in farmer
field. Considerable improvement in Water Use Summary and Conclusions
efficiency has been reported in this program. Based on the available literature following actions /
Percolation losses from earthen irrigation channels combination of measures can be adopted to enhance
depends on intrinsic permeability of the strata through the irrigation efficiency of the existing irrigation
which the channel passes and vary from 30 to 50 % of projects.
discharge available at the head of an irrigation system. lRehabilitation and restoration of silted canal
Ministry of Irrigation and Power, New Delhi (1972) system.
reports that the commonly accepted figures for transit
losses in the alluvial plains of north India are 17 % for lLining of canal and distribution system at selected
main canal and branches 8 % for distributaries and 20 stretches.
% for water course, which gives a total loss of 45 % of lSuitable land modification/improvement
the water entering the canal head. Then there are practices to save water loss.
further losses in the field itself, and these have been
estimated at 30 % of the supply reaching the field or lReliable and adequate water measuring system.
17% of the head discharge. Observation on Punjab lConjunctive use of ground and surface water.
canal and Ganga canal shows that out of 100 % passing
lExplore the possibilities for phase-wise
at head only 55 % and 56% reaches the field.
automation of irrigation for adoption in future.
A study to improve the efficiency of distribution
system of Musafirkhana pilot project was carried out in lAdoption of suitable water application methods.
Sharda Sahayak Command area on farm development lUse of water measuring devices in the
work. In this study significant improvement in the conveyance system for volumetric measurement.
water saving from water courses could be achieved
lProper and timely maintenance of system.
through suitable layout and maintenance of water
course (Belliah, 1981). lChange in cropping pattern, if needed.

Annual Technical Volume 87

Table 1: Summary of reported water-use efficiency in various projects in India (CWC, 2010)

88 Annual Technical Volume

Annual Technical Volume 89
90 Annual Technical Volume
Source: Summary report on Water Use Efficiency (WUE) Studies for 30 Irrigation Projects.
Performance overview and management improvement Organisation (POMIO). Central water Commission, Government of
India (2010)

References Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, New Delhi.

1. Amarasinghe, U. A.; Shah, T.; Turral, H.; Anand, B. 9. INCID. (1998). Sprinkler Irrigation in India. Indian
(2007). India's water futures to 2025-2050: Business as National Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, New
usual scenario and deviations. IWMI Research Report Delhi.
123. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water 10. Kulkarni, S. A. (2005). Looking Beyond Eight
Management Institute. Sprinklers. Paper presented at the National Conference
2. Belliah, K. (1981). Optimal Layout of water courses on Micro-Irrigation. G. B. Pant University of
and drainage with particular reference to Musafir Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, India, June 3-
Khana Pilot Project. M.E. dissertation WRDTC, 5, 2005.
University of Roorkee. 11. Ministry of Irrigation and Power, New Delhi. (1972),
3. Bucks, D. A., Nakayama, F. S. and Warrick, A. W. Report of Irrigation Commission, Vol.I.
(1982). Principles, Practices and Potentialities of 12. Narayanamoorthy, A. (1996). Evaluation of Drip
Trickle Irrigation. Advances in Irrigation. Academic Irrigation System in Maharashtra. Mimeograph Series
Press, New York. No. 42, Agro-Economic Research Centre, Gokhale
4. Choudhury, M.M. (1982). Efficiency determination of Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, Maharashtra.
Dabathua Distributary. Unpublished Technical Report. 13. Narayanamoorthy, A.(1997). Economic Viability of
Water Resources Developmen Training Centre, Drip Irrigation: An Empirical Analysis from
University of Roorkee. Maharashtra. Indian Journal of Agricultural
5. CWC, 2010. Water Use Efficiency Studies of 30 Economics, Vol.52, No.4, October-December, pp.728-
irrigation projects. Summary Report. Performance 739.
Overview and Management Improvement Organisation 14. Narayanamoorthy, A. (2001). Impact of Drip Irrigation
(POMIO), CWC, Govt. of India. Through on Sugarcane Cultivation in Maharashtra. Agro-
WALMIs/IMTIs. Economic Research Centre, Gokhale Institute of
6. Dhawan, B. D. (2002). Technological Change in Indian Politics and Economics, Pune, June.
Irrigated Agriculture: A Study of Water Saving 15. Pala, M., and Studer, C. (1999). Cropping systems
Methods. New Delhi: Commonwealth Publishers. management for improved water use efficiency in
7. FAO, (2003). Statistical databases. dryland agriculture. Paper presented at the
International Conference on: Water Resources
8. INCID. (1994). Drip Irrigation in India. Indian National

Annual Technical Volume 91

Conservation and Management in Dry Areas. 3-6, 23. Rosegrant, W. M.; Ximing, C.; Cline, S. A. (2002).
December 1999. Amman, Jordan. World Water and Food to 2020: Dealing with Scarcity,
International Food Policy Research Institute,
16. Pasakarnis G, Maliene V (2010). "Towards sustainable
Washington, D.C., USA and International Water
rural development in Central and Eastern Europe:
Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Applying land consolidation". Land Use Policy 27 (2):
545–9. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.07.008 24. Vaidyanathan, A. 1998. Water Resource Management:
Institutions and Irrigation Development in India. New
17. Perry, C. (2001). Water at any price? Issues and options
Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.
in charging for irrigation water. Irrig. Drainage 50, 1–7.
25. Walters, W. and Boss, M. G. (1989). Irrigation
18. Sanmuganathan, K. and Bolton, P. (1988). Water
performance, assessment and efficiency, Annual
management in third world irrigation schemes – Lesson
report. International Institute for Land Reclamation
from the field, ODU Bull., II, Hydraulic Research,
and Improvement (ILRI),Wageningen.
London, UK.
26. Hira, G.S., Singh,R. and Kukal, S.S. (2002). Soil
19. Seckler, D.; Amarasinghe, U.; Molden, D.; de Silva, R.;
matric suction: a criterion for scheduling irrigation to
Barker, R. (1998). World water demand and supply,
rice. Indian J. Agricultural Sciences. 72:236-37.
1990 to 2025: Scenarios and issues. Research Report
19. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water 27. Hira, G.S., Sidhu, A.S. and Kukal, S.S. (2007).
Management Institute. Tensiometer Chone vich pani di bachat laye sadaran
yanter. In pani bachoa Punjab bachoa released from
20. Seckler, D.; Barker R.; Amarasinghe, U. (1999). Water
Punjab agricultural University, Ludhiana. 16-18.
Scarcity in Twenty-First Century. International Journal
of Water Resources Development, Vol.15, Nos. 1-2, pp. 28. Sidhu, A.S., Kukal, S.S. and Hira, G.S. (2008). PAU
29-42. Tensiometer: Chone Nu Pani laun Di Lahevand
technique (extension Bulletin) released from Punjab
21. Sharma, S.B. (1982). Evaluation of Irrigation
agricultural University, Ludhiana.
efficiency and water course losses in Salawa Command
area. Unpublished Technical Report. Water Resources 29. International Water Management Institute-IWMI
Developmen Training Centre, University of Roorkee. (2000).Water accounting for Integrated Water
Resources Management, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka.
22. Sivanappan, R. K. (1994). Prospects of Micro Irrigation
in India. Irrigation and Drainage System, Vol.8, No. 1 30. WANG, L., QU, J. (2009). Satellite remote sensing
pp. 49-58. applications for surface soil moisture monitoring: A
review. Front. Earth Sci. China 2009, 3(2): 237–247.

92 Annual Technical Volume

The Great Ganges Canal of Northern India
S. C. Goyal
Former Superintending Engineer
Irrigation Department, Government of Uttarakhand
Narendra Singh
Former Superintending Engineer
Irrigation Department, Government of Uttarakhand
N.K. Yadav
Executive Engineer
Erection Division, Roorkee, Uttarakhand

General Background 1854), with no precedence of the nature and magnitude

of works, existing anywhere on the globe, supported
The Northern plain in India is one of the largest fertile
by modern standard, a small staff, headed by only
agricultural land in the entire world. Generally
seven senior officers of the rank of executive engineer
speaking, alluvial soils of Northern plain are quite
assisted by small British establishment and slightly
suitable for irrigation and give good response to the large native one and only using indigenous resources.
artificial watering of crops. Among the states in India,
the state of Uttar Pradesh comparatively comprises Sir Proby Cautley had absolute responsibility for
major part of Northern alluvial plain. The state is well planning, layout and design of structures and then their
endowed with adequate water resources and also has execution. It was then discovered that the bed-slope
fertile, alluvial, gentle sloping land and besides the was excessive, the resulting high velocity of flow
large number of perennial streams descending from causing considerable erosion of bed and banks of canal
Himalayas, there is generally a favourable water and serious scour below the falls. To remedy this
bearing stratum, presently available at an average of 5 defect, an estimate amounting to Rs. 36.5 Lacs was
to 15 m below the ground surface, supporting the most sanctioned and the work was taken in hand in 1865.
extensive system of irrigation by wells. Further observations showed that the amount was
much in excess of what was required to counteract the
Necessity of a Irrigation Canal System excessive slope originally given to ensure safety of
Study of Indian famine commission (1880), on the Canal works.
occurrence of severe droughts shows that our country To sum up we may safely say that the upper Ganges
had been facing severe droughts, average one at an canal, in an average year, yielded a return of 8% on its
interval of 5 years and severe one with interval of 12 capital outlay, and that it is therefore, financially a
years, large no. of population was affected with these great success; that it protected a large area against the
droughts. evils of famine and drought.
Famine attacking in year 1838, affected the whole Engineering Skills used on Major Works between
country between Delhi - Allahabad, Kanpur - Agra and Haridwar and Roorkee
adjoining Rajputana. This event of Great famine The main river, which runs under precipitous banks
attracted serious attention of the administration of East scarped by its own action on the left, throws out on its
- India Company, to protect the vast fertile agricultural right, and within a distance of 2 miles above Haridwar,
tract of Gang-Yamuna Doab, from recurring droughts. a minor steam of considerable importance, which,
The Great Ganges Canal under all the fluctuations that characterize these
constantly varying beds, appears to carry, a uniform
Sir Proby Cautley designed and initiated construction
supply of about one-third of whole volume. From this
of a Canal system which was one of the largest in the
branch (Commonly called Bhimgoda channel), the
world. inhabitants of Haridwar and Kankhal had been in the
This canal with 654 miles of main and branch canals, habit of brining a water course, for the purpose of
costing nearly Rs. 135 Lacs was primarily constructed supplying to towns, the priests being interested in
with in a period of nearly 6 years (January 1848 - April maintaining water at their ghats or bathing places.

Annual Technical Volume 93

The following remarks of Sir Cautley showed, how he hills, the eastern, by the river Ganges; and the western,
appreciated the wisdom and efforts of local people in by the high land that forms the boundary of the Khadir,
drawing the river supplies after each flood season, and (the low lying land forming the valley of the river). It
with great modesty utilised it as a proper alignment to slopes rapidly from north to south, or from the
feed his canal. mountain towards the plans, and more gently from
west to east, or from the high land towards the river.
"The head works of Ganges Canal, therefore, were, in
Along the direction of the rapid slope, the canal is
limine, determined by the priests and the people, so far
carried, while that great volume of water which forms
as supply was concerned, it was only a matter of
the drainage of the Shiwalik hills flows along the
degree. The source from whence their small channel
gentler declivity, intersecting the line of canal at right
was fed, was ample for the purpose of a canal, and the
angles. From these two sources the difficultly of
only question left for my consideration were these of
carrying the canal in safety through the Khadir have
capabilities, which depended entirely on the results of
mainly, if not exclusively sprung; and of the two, the
a very simple series of longitudinal and cross-sections,
drainage has by far the most difficult to deal with.
the former extending from the departure of the branch
from Haridwar to a point south of Kankhal, and the In arranging an artificial channel for constant passage
latter giving an accurate profile of the gorge through of a volume of water, the first point that presented itself
which the river flowed". for decision was the rate of slope per mile that was to be
given to the bed to insure just that velocity of current
The total drop of surface on this line was 34 ft 10 inches
which, while it keeps channel clear of the seeds or
in a distance of 19,864 ft; the branch itself was well
impediments of all kinds, shall not erode the bottom or
adapted to this purpose for which it was required; its
wear away the sides and banks. Colonel Cautley,
average width was 300 ft, and its section at those points
projector of the Ganges Canal, decided after careful
where it was free from branches was deep and well
thought and due regard to the experience gained on
defined. This portion of the channel, called the supply
canals previously opened, that a fall of 15 inches in
channel, proved to be an excellent arrangement, for
every mile of length would best secure the desired
feeding such a large canal without construction of any
ends. But this was much less than the slope of surface
permanent diversion work for almost several decades, of Kahdir, and the excess in the latter had to be
providing very charming and useful waterfront for the disposed of by artificial works. To this end, the
town of Haridwar, maintaining the quality of water masonry falls that are found between Haridwar and
without disturbing the self cleansing characteristics of Roorkee were directed.
the river, and also providing a good sediment trap to
control the entry of heavy sediment load into the canal To regulate the slope of the canal form Haridwar to
head at Mayapur. Roorkee, four such falls of nine feet in depth each were
required, and the prolongation of the fixed general
At Mayapur a very extensive and complete series of slope of the bed from the foot of most southerly of
work have been constructed, for regulating the these, delivers the channel on the ridge of the valley of
admission of water into the canal bed. they consisted of Solani river at Mehwar, 27½ feet above the level of
a great Dam of masonary, 517 feet in length, across lowest part of the valley. Here accordingly, a new
branch, as alluded to above, and a regulating bridge of arrangement for the canal becomes necessary. To have
10 arches, each 20 ft wide, across the channel of the adhered to the system of the falls would have been
canal, with gates and necessary machinery for inconvenient for sound professional reasons, and the
regulating the admission of water according to the most suitable method of carrying the canal across the
wants of cultivators, all arrangements developed by surface of the country, by a continuous embankment
the local resources. adjusted to the required slope and having sufficiently
Between, the Mayapur regulating bridge and the high strong banks to retain the supply, was finally adopted.
land on which Roorkee, the head quarters station of the This is what is called the Solani Earthen Aqueduct, it is
canal Department (mid 1850) was situated, there about 3 miles in length protected throughout with
extends a tract of country within which the most masonary walls, having ghats on their water-faces for
formidable obstacles to the project were found. An convenience and comfort of the people.
attempt is to be made here to give in brief a general But it was requisite to make provision of passing the
impression of their nature and extent, and the concepts Solani river, which is one of the great-drainage line of
and skills used. Siwaliks, through the embankment, and hence arose
The tract of the country referred to, is triangular in the necessity for the Solani Masonry Aqueduct, the
shape, the northern side being formed by the Shiwalik most stupendous work on the whole line of the canal.

94 Annual Technical Volume

This is in point of fact a bridge across the Solani, of 15 fourth and last is the Solani basin drained by Solani
arches each having a span of 50 ft, giving a clear water river, each of these basins is distinctly separated from
way of 750 ft, for the passage of the floods of the river, its adjoining neighbour by a well defined ridge of
a waterway which experience has hither to shown to be elevated ground or watershed, and to the whole the
abundant under every contingency. Ganges is the great catch - water drain.
On this great work, the greatest indeed of its kind in the When rain falls, and flood come down upon the canal
world by mid of 19th century, in passing the Solani channel from these various outlets, it is clear that the
Valley, the government has expended a sum of nearly water must either be carried over the bed, or under it, or
Rs. 30 lakkhs. The masonry aqueduct is founded on an received into, and passed across, or along it. All these
elaborate series of blocks of masonry, sunk 20 feet methods have been employed by the projector,
deep below the bed of the stream, each of which according to his professional judgement of their
measures 20 feet in length, breadth and depth, or in peculiar propriety in each case. The floods of Ranipur
certain positions, half these dimensions in length and and Pathri basins are passed over the canal bed, by
breadth, but always retaining the full depth. A perfect means of works, which are called Super-passages, and
forest of piles, strengthened by box work loaded with in point of the fact are low aqueducts across the canal,
heavy stones, protects the front flanks and rear from between the parapets were of the torrents flow. These
the attacks of the current, and many ingenious devices, are very massive structures, as they have to withstand
the description of which has been given in the Report - the whole force of the rivers swollen to a great size, and
on Ganga canal Vol. II by Sir Cautley, have been rushing down beds having excessively rapid slopes.
employed by the projector to secure each part of the
The Ratmau drainage in an illustration of the method
fabric from every accident that fore thought could
of passing the water across the canal bed, there being a
anticipate. When the aqueduct channel rests on high
dam of inlet on the upstream, and one of outlet on the
land of Roorkee, it has passed the difficult and
downstream side; while the minor drainage, between
dangerous part of its course, and after wards follows
Haridwar, Kankhal, Jawalapur and the Ranipur super
the general level of the surface of the Doab with aid of
passage, is an example of the plan of receiving the
such masonry falls as the slope requires.
water into, the passing it along the canal channel itself,
The above explanations dispose of the works required to find its exit at some convenient point below. Each of
for carrying the channels along the rapid slope form the these expedients has its special excellencies and
Hills south wards. A few Words must new be said of defects, and each has been used in those localities, and
drainage which intersects this course at right angles. It under those circumstances, for which it was apparently
is very well known to everybody that, between the best adapted. There was good reason to hope that by
months of July and September and sometimes between these different means, an entire command has been
October and June, great quantities of rain fall in the obtained over that formidable obstacle to the progress
Sewalik Hills. The rain storms are occasionally of of the canal, created by the extensive drainage from the
excessive volume, and in projecting works to dispose mountains, through the river valleys of the Khadir,
of the resulting drainage, it is necessary always to have when therefore inlets, outlets, dams or aqueducts come
regard to the greatest quantity which experience has under observation, it will be remembered from these
shown may have to be dealt with. explanations, that they form parts of the system of
Now in the Khadir of the Ganges, which receives the works devised to prevent floods from injuring the
waters the waters from a mountain line of 30 miles in canal channel.
length, the drainage (neglecting small channels which The forest of the Northern Doab and Rohilkhand were
though several in number are slight in comparative the great source of supply for the timber trade of these
importance) is subdivided between four great basins, provinces, and to provide for export of wood and other
each of which discharges to flood waters through well articles of hill produce, as also for the import of goods
marked river beds of these the first and most northerly and merchandise from the south, a distinct series of
is the Ranipur basin, draining through Ranipur Rao, works had been provided for the express purpose of
the second is the Patheri basin, draining through the facilitating the navigation of the canal. A little
Patheri Rao; these two are, in point of fact, part of one reflection will satisfy everyone that with a volume of
great basin, of which the outlets have been determined water so great and a velocity of current so rapid as
on Separate lines by local peculiarities of surface level, existed in the Northern Division of the Ganges canal,
but it is clearer and better to keep them separate, as boats or raft could not have passed over the falls in the
separate works have been constructed of each; the third main channel by any means that could have been
is the Ratmau basin, drained by Ratmau river; the devised without great difficulty and no small damage

Annual Technical Volume 95

to property and even life. Hence a small parallel canal, Case 1 : the direction of the canal has always been
bearing the name of "Navigation channel" had been made coincident with that of the highest land or water
carried along - side the great canal, and in its locks had shed of the tract of the country through which it was
been provided with all these necessary machinery, so carried;
that rafts or boats can pass with freedom and safety. Case 2 : as a consequence of the preceding, the heads
These was a great advantage in saving of time, labour of all drainage lines have been turned, so that all
and expenses, in this model of transport over any other interference with the natural escape of the flood waters
now in use. have been avoided, it is better in every respect, thus to
The last class of works was that for the convenience of follow nature rather then to oppose her directly- to win
passengers or people living in the neigbourhood, in the battle against the powers she opposes to us, by
passing from one side of the canal. A bridge was skilful tactics, rather than by brute force.
provided for this purpose at intervals never greater than Case 3 : when owing to complexity of the natural
three miles, and wherever it can be done, bathing ghats drainage, interference with the heads or courses of
had been added to those bridges for the comfort of the catchment line has become the least of evils amongst
community. which, in such a case, a selection has to be made, then,
On the opposite side of the station, and occupying the as a general rule, an efficient escape is provided for
crest of gentle eminence, there rises another mass of the intercepted portion of the drainage, and this is in all
building designed in excellent architectural taste, and instances directed away from the course of the canal.
imposing in its extent and general effect. This was the Case 4 : no drainage water except in the immediate
new "Thomason college of civil engineering", rapidly vicinity of the canal works, is ever admitted directly
approaching completion. To start with, within the walls into the Canal channel.
of this college, were being educated various classes of
public servants to whose efficiency high mental These few principles kept steadily in view will furnish
training was essential. Commissioned officer and the clue to the system by which works of the canal have
soldiers, pupils of the European seminaries, of the been made rather to improve than deteriorate the
govt. colleges and of the humble village schools, were natural drainage of the country.
all gathered together, and each class was receiving the The course of canal from Roorkee southward to
instruction suited to its future destination. Nanoon has been marked out in strict accordance with
Course of Canal to the Southward of Roorkee the general principles just stated; it turns the heads of
east & west Kalee Nadee, the choya kuroon and such
The great plain forming what is ordinarily termed the other drainge lines as are met with. It was provided
Northern Doab, is triangular in shape; its boundary on with escapes leading from canal channel to such of
the north being the Sewalik hills, on the east the river there rivers, as were conveniently adapted to the
Ganges, and on the west river Yamuna; the base line of discharge of surplus water. The slope of the bed was
the figure therefore stretches from the head of the regulated by masonry falls whenever necessary, and
Ganges to that of the Eastern Yamuna canal, a distance around each of these, a navigable channel with a lock,
of about 45 miles, while the point at Allahabad is nearly was carried for the purposes of transit. Bridges for
450 miles distant from the line. cross-communication were built at intervals not
If we suppose a line to be drawn right across the Doab greater than three miles, and to most of the bridges
half way between Meerut and Bulandsahar, we have there was attached the head of a Rajbuha or main
the tract divided into two aspects. North of the line, the irrigation channel, where by the water is carried to the
most noteworthy peculiarities are the rapidity of slope adjoining village.
before referred to, and the prevalence of undulating The distance from the head of the canal to Nanoo is
ridges, of sand hills, locally termed bhoor. South of the about 180 miles, and on this length the canal consists
line, the physical features meriting remarks are just the of a single main line, the breadth at bottom being as in
converse of the preceding the slope is throughout very the northern Division 140 ft at first. But as the
gentle, rising but little above a foot per mile and branches are carried off from the main line and the
ultimately falling below it, generally continuous, but volume of water diminished by the consumption of the
broken at a few points by sudden and abrupt descents of Rajbuha supplies, this breadth is gradually diminished
several feet in depth, so that country is divided into till, on reaching Nanoo, it has become only 80 feet. Of
small series of low steppes, descending one below the the great branches between Roorkee and Nanoo there
other from north to south, while the whole has a fixed were three, called respectively the Futtehgarh branch,
general inclination in the same direction. leaving the canal at the 50th mile from the head, the

96 Annual Technical Volume

Bolundsahr branch, leaving at the 110th mile, and the were not completed and deferred for some time, as it
koel branch leaving at the 152nd miles. The two latter was considered expedient to watch the working of the
ultimately unite and form what is called Hathras line of canal after the water was admitted before undertaking
irrigation. them. The some consideration has led to the temporary
On both banks along the whole of the line, plantation of suspension of the works on the other great branches
useful trees has been formed, and at every 1st Class north of Nanoo.
choke there was a grafted mango garden from which The preceding details will suffice to give a popular
grafts were to be distributed to the community as has impression of the extent and dimensions of the Ganges
for many years past been done on the Eastern Yamuna canal. To sum up the whole in a single sentence, it may
canal with much success. The distances were marked be said that the total length of channel navigable
by substantial mile-stones, and at every bridge a large throughout, including the trunk and terminal lines,
area of ghat accommodation has been provided for the with the great branches was very nearly 890 miles;
people who may wish to bath in the canal. The bed of along which were distributed 17 Dams or Escapes
the canal continues to slope at the rate of 15 inches per with water ways varying from 800 to 18 feet; 202
mile length, and the excess in the fall of the country was bridges for the purpose of regulation and cross-
concentrated on the masonry falls before alluded to. communication, with waterways varying from 200 to
Colonel Cautley issued a Circular Memorandum to all 20 ft; 297 inlets for local or minor drainage; 16 falls for
Executives on the Ganges Canal (No. 82, dated 1st regulating the slopes; 31 locks and navigation channel,
January, 1852), containing clear and detailed 282 Rajbuha heads for irrigation; and aggregate length
instructions for forming Embankments and Plantation of probably not less than 10 miles of bathing ghats for
along the whole of the line of this Great Canal. the use of community; 49 1st class and 122, 2nd
At Nanoo the canal ceases to consist of one main chokies for the shelter of Establishments; 6 workshops
channel, and braches off into two separate and for supplying various wants of canal works; and lastly,
independent terminal lines, one directed on the Ganga the great Aqueduct across the Solani River, unequalled
river at Kanpur and the other on the Yamuna river near in its dimension by any work of the kind yet executed
Hamerpur above Allahabad. The same general throughout the world (by the mid of 19th Century). It
principles have influenced the directions of these would be necessary to add here that upto the opening of
terminal lines as were before adverted to; the natural the canal, Government has expended on the works
drainage has been preserved with same scrupulous care south of Roorkee a sum to about Rupees 65 lakhs.
through not always with the same entire absence of Such was the extent of work which had been executed
interference, for the canal embankments occasionally on the Ganges canal, virtually within the period of last
intercept parts of the heads and channels through eight years, though it must be remarked that the visible
which the flood water has hitherto flowed. But results were far from being a true measure of the
artificial cuts re-establish lines of escapes for such amount of labour which has been expended in that
parts, and in no place was the drainage left to stagnate. time. It was the work of hand in construction only that
Regulators, escapes, bridges, chokies, and all other was seen on the surface of the country; to estimate the
works necessary for the full efficiency of the lines were extent of mental and manual labour of other kinds that
provided in sufficient abundance for every want. were required for pure constructive purposes, the
The Kanpur terminal line passed directly through the records and reports on Ganges canal may be examined,
station of Kanpur between the cantonment and the city. and there would be found proofs of the thoughtful care
The entire length of this line from Nanoo to the Ganges and immense toil with which every part of the great
is 170 miles, and its bottom width, which at starting design had been elaborated by those concerned in
was 80 ft, has become reduced at the actual terminus to working it out.
20 ft, the estimated depth of water at the head being 8 ft Construction of Masonry Haridwar Dam
and at Kanpur only 5 feet.
The spill channel (Haridwar Channel) opposite Harki
The Etawah terminal line from Nanoo to Yumana was Pauri was utilised as first escape to release surplus
175 miles in length, with a bottom width at first equal to monsoon flow entering the supply channel. The
80 feet and diminishing gradually, as the volume of discharge at the head of Haridwar channel during high
water is exhausted for irrigation, to 18 feet. Its depth of floods was estimated to the order of nearly 1,00,000
water at the head was calculated at 8 feet, deceasing cuses, and needed some regulating device to pass the
towards the terminus till it reaches a measurement of 5 surplus flow through the Haridwar channel. In 1870-
feet. The terminal locks connecting it with Jamuna 71, a design for a masonry dam across the Haridwar

Annual Technical Volume 97

channel was prepared by Captain Scott Moncrieff, RE. leading cut 200 ft wide was excavated from the main
Captain Moncrieff's design was evidently very simple channel of the river down to the undersluices in cold
and most economical, using locally available river bed weather of 1920. This leading cut remained fairly well
material with simple skills. In 1872-73, the Haridwar open during succeeding rains, but never the less a large
masonry dam was constructed the proposals for gates amount of shoal clearance had to be done up stream of
was finally settled in favour of a drop-gate, hinged at the supply channel head and in the supply channel
the floor. This structure has been in use upto 1985 with before the canal could be opened.
minor modifications but all success, and has been The dividing wall between under sluices and weir was
ultiamtely replaced by a gated structure with much reduced in length by 218 ft before the rain of 1921 in
reduced capacity. The earlier capacity of Haridwar order to give the river an earlier line of approach to the
Dam was nearly 60,000 cusec and remaining nearly undersluices, and this certainly had a good effect, even
30,000 cusec used to pass through Mayapur Dam. so the shoaling after the rains was heavier than ever
Haridwar Dam was the first permanent masonry work and cost Rs. 29,542 to remove. It was than decided to
added at the head works, after the opening of Ganges partially close bay no. 6 of the weir in order to force the
canal in 1854. river over to its right flank and very many of the
Construction of Bhimgoda Weir masking shoals on this side have dis-appeared
altogether. The clearance required after the rains of
In 1911, a preliminary estimate amounting to Rs. 1922 cost Rs. 7150 only.
25,93,499 was sanctioned by the secretary of state, for
the construction of Bhimgoda weir. New permanent During the flood season the upstream river level on the
left flank of the weir was normally 4 ft higher than that
Headworks (Bhimgoda weir) were constructed
on the right flank and after the closing of bay no. 6 this
between 1914 and 1920, at a point about 3/4 mile
difference of level was observed to have increased to 5
below the site of temporary bunds, for feeding the
ft. This increased afflux on the left flank together with
canal. The reasons which led to this change were
the fact that masking of headworks on the right flank
mainly two :
considerably decreased the discharging capacity,
(1) The delay in obtaining supplies for the needs of rendered it advisable to raise the left flank afflux bund,
irrigation after the close of the monsoon, owing to and this was accordingly raised in the working season
the time taken in erecting the bunds and the of 1922-23.
impossibility of adequately feeding the canal 1924 stands out in the history of headworks as the year
during a long break in the rains, after bunds have of highest gauge recorded at Raiwal, which was as
been breached. high as 32.0 ft on 29th September. The maximum
(2) The ever increasing difficulty and expense in discharge in this flood was estimated about 700000
building the bunds owing to the Bhimgoda cusec against 5,00,000 cusec of 1894. The river started
channel taking an increasing proportion of river rising on the evening of 26th September and continued
discharge, in conjunction with the necessity of doing so until 30th September, from 27th September to
building the bunds at an early period each year 30th; it rained continuously and the total rainfall
and maintain them for a long period, owing to the recorded in these dates at Haridwar was 30.15 inches
considerable growth of irrigation. and the duration of high flood was about 40 hours.
Extensive damage was observed on training works
It may also be mentioned here that the Excellency the with breach of Kankhal bunds, right afflux bund at
Viceroy visited headwork on 21st October 1916, Dudhiabund and also was Motichur Weir across
proceeding afterward to Gurukul, along the path cut Motichur channel. Both wings of Haridwar dam were
through Khairwala island, the arrangements of the trip topped, when parapets of both the wing walls
were in the hands of the Irrigation Branch. collapsed.
The new Head works were completed in May, 1920; The main structure of Bhimgoda Weir and under
they were built in a stretch of the river where the main sluices had not been seriously damaged but there was
stream was confined to the right flank though the river some damage to boulder sets in bay no 2, sixteen weir
course in general was curved, left flank having a gates had been washed away. Bay no 1 of the weir was
concave bank and during the rains of 1920 a very large completely masked by the shoal, that extended nearly
proportion of the river discharge was taken by 5th & upto the weir, it was then decided to raise the crest of
6th bay of the weir, the remaining bays being largely bay no. 5, 4 and 3 by 2½, 2 and 1½ ft respectively, as
masked by shoals, while the under sluices were great difficulty was likely be experienced otherwise in
completely so. Two leading cuts and big diagonal feeding the canal in succeeding cold weather.

98 Annual Technical Volume

The design of the new Headworks was subjected to and form most effective flooring. They were largely
much alteration during the course of construction used in topping the old crates below Haridwar Dam of
owing to agitation on the part of the Hindu community; which the upper timbers had rotted way, and have
this agitation was based on the following grounds, answered there purpose admirably.
The effect
v of sluices in the head regulator on Repairs done in lime were frequently washed away
the sacredness of the water going past the before they had time to set, owing to the necessities of
Haridwar bathing ghats. regulation or on account of early floods; and in such
The breaking
v of the continuity of the flow of situations cement was the proper material to use.
the main Ganges river by completely The proportions used were:
stopping its flow. Mortar - sand 2, cement 1
These objections were met by removing the sluice Concrete - shingle 4, sand 2, cement 1
gates from the supply channel head, and by providing a
gap in the weir (Ramdhara), which at all seasons of the shingle 5, sand 3, cement 1
year would discharge 400 cusecs. At the same time it Choking of Ganges canal in head reach by flashy
was agreed to leave supply channel no. 1 open and to Alakhnanda flood (1970)
provide a minimum supply of 1000 cusec down it, by
means of a temporary bund, if necessary. The terms of Alakhnanda, a major tributory of the Ganga river faced
settlement are given in the General Administration a calamitous flashy flood in last week of July 1970,
department letter no. 1002 dated the 28th April 1917 causing heavy silting in Ganges canal in the head
and are published in Part VIII of United Provinces reach, resulting into almost complete choking the canal
Government Gazette dated 5th May 1917. in its first 12 km length; the flashy flood carried
excessive sediment load exceeding 30,000 ppm. The
As regards method of construction, Kankar lime was canal had to be closed down in august 1970 and could
more generally used, almost entirely replacing white only be reopened by mid October 1970, after large
lime for river training works, the proportion used these scale desilting operation, carried out by Mechanical
days were : and manual means. The events leading to
Kankar lime concrete - Shingle 1½ inches gauge unprecedented silting of the canal and the operations
100 cft. during crucial period of desilting have been admirably
described and analysed by the Enquiry committee
Sand 25 Cft, Kankar lime 25 cft. headed by Senior Engineer Sri N.G.K. Murti, and set
Hammer dressed boulder masonry - Dressed up by Govt. of India. The committee submitted an
boulders 75 cft, exhaustive and readable report on this calamity and
Sand 23 cft kankar lime 23 cft. technical reasons for choking of the canal.

Spurs were generally built of concrete blocks with The silt clearance was carried out to a profile a little
crates at the back of them to effect a junction with the higher than the theoretical bed profile approved in
stem bund; these crates are subsequently clothed with 1951. The canal was reopened after desilting
boulder masonry, should the spur successfully stand operations on 14.10.1970 and was run with full gauge
and be required as a permanency. from midnight of 14/15 October 1970, to provide
timely irrigation facilities for Rabi crop in extensive
50 cft blocks were used where the blocks have to be irrigable command. The canal bed could attain the non-
laid by Derrick boat and 75 cft where they can be made monsoon regime conditions within a fortnight of it
is situ, the respective size being 5 x 4 x 2½ and 5 x 5 x running and the bed got scoured to levels below
3ft. theoretical bed line. There was no problem up to mid
The New headworks were built of hammer dressed June 1971.
boulder masonry with split boulder masonry hearting, During running of the canal in monsoon of 1971, the
the proportion of the latter being split boulders 60 cft, criteria were adopted for running of the canal, in
3/4 inch shingle 54 cft, and sand 19 cft, Kankar lime 19 accordance with the recommendations of Alakhnanda
cft. Enquiry committee, to close the canal when the
Boulder sets were used for weir floors and consist of sediment concentration reached 12000 ppm, while
large boulders squared on five sides, and laid as precautions were to be taken when it was above 7000
headers in either fine lime or cement concrete and ppm. Towards the end of August, substantial silting
cement pointed. The sets were generally 12" in depth was found in the canal, and there after the canal was not

Annual Technical Volume 99

run if the sediment concentration exceeded 5000 ppm It is likely that greater total deposit takes place at
for more than 48 hours. A field laboratory for higher discharges than at lower discharges,
measurement of sediment concentration in the river at when the silt concentrations are considerably
head works and few suitable locations on the canal was higher than the capacity of the canal.
established at Mayapur, the head of the canal. A The permissible
v total accumulation of silt upto
detailed observation on sediment deposition and Mile 7-3 is considered to be 300 lakh cubic feet,
measurement and record of silt load was maintained. the following schedule was suggested.
The total period for keeping the canal
closed, during monsoon of 1971, was 33
days. After initial silting at heavy silt charge,
the canal bed sowed a clear tendency of
appreciable deposition of silt even at the silt
content of 3000 ppm or lower. If the canal
was to be flowed for a silt content of even
3000 ppm or lower, the period of closure at
silt concentration of 3000 ppm or more on the basis of Though
v no absolute upper limit of sediment
monsoon 1971 concentrations would be 62 days concentration need be specified, a watch on silt
hardly conductive to the efficient Kharif irrigation, deposit has to be maintained whenever the canal
beside loss of power generation. is running above 2000 ppm.

In order to finalise the standing Regulations orders for The following recommendations were recorded,
monsoon running of the canal, the problem was lThe volume of deposit should be the main
referred for necessary study and recommendations to criteria as per conclusion V above, the mean bed
Dr. Bharat Singh, an eminent engineer and professor at level at M 4-0 is only a rough guide.
WRDTC, University of Roorkee, by Shri P. Yog Chief
Engineer Ganga U.P. irrigation vide his letter dated lAs bed load cannot really be accurately
19.10.1972. measured, control by bed load will not be found
Dr. Bharat Singh, after in depth studies on the data
supplied by the irrigation Department U.P., from lRunning full capacity even when the demand is
observations, during Monsoon running of the canal less is not necessarily beneficial. The aspect
during 1971 and 1972, arrived at the following main need further field study.
conclusions. lIt is considered that running the canal down to
The hrdraulic roughness of the canal varies from
v 8000 cusec will probably not result in greater
day to day and on a given day it varies along the total deposition than at 9500 cusec or more.
reach. The values during the monsoon season lThe pond level at Pathri P.H. has important
are considerably lower than those in the rest of influence on transport capacity. From 1st July to
the year. 31st October the pond level should be restricted
The capacity
v to transport 'bed material load' to 915.5 and thereafter gradually raised and
(about half of the total load) during monsoon normally full pond level of 918.50 ft be allowed
with Pond level at Pathri power station (Mile 7- to be maintained after 31st January. Under shot
3) at 915.50 was computed as, 1600 ppm to 250 running at by pass can have only local effect.
ppm from mile 2-6 to mile 7-0 respectively.
lThe observations made during 1971 and 1972
Other conditions remaining the same, if pond are adequate and should be maintained.
level at Pathri is raised to 918.5 ft, (FSL) the
lRedesign of Mayapur works and provision of
reduced transport capacity for bed material load
silt ejector can undoubtedly improve
were found from 1000 ppm to 75 ppm at Mile 2-
6 and 7-0 respectively. These variations occur
due to variations in hydraulic roughness and Considering the above study and recommendations,
energy gradient. the Standing Regulation orders at head works of the
"During clear water season, with high values of
canal were reviewed, modified and approved. This
n and high pond at Pathri P.H., the transport rates followed the exercise of revision of standing
would be considerably lower". regulation orders at other head works in the state.

100 Annual Technical Volume

Providing Silt Ejector at km 2.2 on Ganga Canal take into account the restriction of the section, which
(1975-77) can be permitted without affecting the discharging
capacity and subject to the conditions that the
Ganges canal was projected comparatively on a higher deposition is washed out, during clear water running
bed slope as compared to other large canal systems in period.
Northern India. The bed slope in the head reach was
especially excessive, varying from m 0 to 1 as 3.6 The silt Ejector as per hydraulic design by IRI, Roorkee
ft/mile, from m 1 to m 2 as 2.0 ft/mile and the average was constructed at 2.2 km on the Ganges canal, during
slope of 1.2 ft/mile in the remaining reach upto m 7-3. the period from 1975-77. This needed the by-passing of
the canal with full capacity of nearly 312 m3/sec
For the first time during its 100 years of its running (11,000 cusec), with lot of constraints of limitation of
history the canal received heavily sediment laden water available land width and quite heavy settlements of
during 1970 in view of flashy flood in Alakhnanda, a local expending population of Haridwar and Kankhal
major tributary of the river Ganga, and this resulted in towns, along the canal banks. The canal was to be bye-
the excessive sediment deposition and consequent passed within a limited and short period of closure of
restriction of the canal section in a length of nearly 12 two weeks. This was the first attempt to by-pass such
km (upto Pathri Power Station). Since 1970 monsoons large canal with long history and limitation of available
the canal was showing tendency of silting in its upper land. After careful planning and seeking some
reaches. To reduce this tendency a sediment ejector equipment helps of Bengal Engineers, the canal was
was proposed to be constructed at Km 2.2, downstream diverted though the bye-pass and after completion of
of head regulator at Mayapur, for exclusion of the construction work of silt ejector and the escape
excessive sediment using existing Kankhal Mill channel, it was again restored in its original route to
channel as escape channel for the ejector. pass through the silt ejector added to its course.
The hydraulic design was worked out by Irrigation After the modification and updating of regulation
Research Institute at Roorkee, by model during orders and addition of sediment ejector as described
1974/75. The model studies indicated that the ejector above, there has not been any noticeable problem in
would pass a discharge of 62m3/sec at a head loss of running of this canal during monsoons, in spite of
0.62 m and all the tunnels would pass equal discharge. occurrence of so many slides from time to time in the
The theoretical studies indicated that 75 % of 0.2 mm large catchment in the Himalayas.
and 28 % of 0.10 mm diameter particles would settle to Practice of Drainage in Major Irrigated Commands
the bed, if settling basin of 76 width were provided in a
The Project of Ganges canal, the first largest perennial
length of 185 m upstream of the Ejector.
canal of the country had undergone extensive
The results of model studies conducted with coal dust examination and investigations for a period of nearly
indicated that the efficiency of the ejector would be of 12 years (1836-48) and especially related to essential
the order of 33 %, particles of size smaller than 0.1 mm measures against any interference in the drainage of
were not likely to be ejected out. The efficiency of the irrigable command. A special committee was
ejector was observed to be reduced considerably at constituted by Govt. of India (General order
lower canal discharges, and it was considered Commander-in-chief dated 16th Sept. 1845) to report
advisable not to run the canal at appreciably lower whether an injurious effect on the health of people of
discharges. the Doab is or is not likely to be produced by the
The wash load is generally taken as that part of the contemplated Ganges canal.
sediment load which consists of grain size finer than The committee recommended the following essential
those present in the bed. The wash load as determined guide lines for aligning the canal net work, related to
by grain size distribution was found to range from 50 to drainage of the area,
70 % of the total load. Observations also indicated that l"That the Ganges canal be kept as much as
the rugosity coefficient (N) reduces with sediment possible within soil, i.e., that its ordinary surface
concentration. It has been observed to have the value of levels should be below that of the country".
'N' changed from 0.026 in case of clear water to 0.015,
lThat the canal and its branches be taken as much
with sediment laden water with concentration of 5
as possible along the water shed of the country,
gms/litre. so as not to interfere with the drainage; and in all
After the study of sediment transport capacity of the cases where such interference may be
Ganges canal by Irrigation Research Institute and by unavoidable, that the executive officer be
Dr. Bharat Singh, professor WRDTC. University of instructed to provide otherwise for the
Roorkee (1972), the regulation orders were modified to drainage".

Annual Technical Volume 101

Sir Cautley, had a very thorough tracking of the canal economic conditions and over all prosperity of the
command and took special care in aligning the canal people inhabiting the large irrigated canal commands.
network, not only, to avoid interference in the natural Large tracks in the state which used to be uninhabited
drainage of the agricultural land but to improve even until about 150 years or so now appears to be green
the existing depression on the flat land in the alluvial land, covered with intense agricultural activity and
plain. The following remarks by Sir Cautley reveals the rich harvests, with nearly over 100 % intensity of
thoughtful care taken, as excerpts from his report of Irrigation. Quite a good proportion of cropped area in
1845. the state now contributes to many granaries of India.
Recurrent famines, which visited the state in 19th
“It will be plain that this system of drainage, supposing
Century, are new the events of the past, except for
that outlay of funds is not objected to, is a positive
infrequent droughts. Irrigation brings a lot of revenue
remedy to the evils, and, as I have remarked, an to the Government, which, normally is utilized for the
advantage which the country could not ever drive, had development of the state and the welfare of the people.
the Ganges canal, not been executed - It may be said
that, whether the canal is executed or not, the system of The development of irrigation in the alluvial plain in
drainage which I propose might be adopted". different river basins has brought great environmental
changes in the agricultural tracts. The flora and fauna
Subsequently while taking up the work of aligning and have also undergone a substantial change with
construction of distribution net work of channels in the appreciable increase in the intensity of Irrigation in the
command of Ganges canal, all care taken to align not state, the landscape have normally altered to Green
only the irrigation channels, but also the drainage land, almost round the year. However with the pressure
channels to drain off the newly irrigated command. The of more land for cultivation, large no. of ponds and
following remarks from the Lt. Colonel F.V. Corbett plantation groves have disappeared.
RE Chief Engineer (Completion Report for
remodeling the Ganges Canal 1895) further explains In fact the ecology in Gangetic plain in the state has
the care taken in the field:- become today's human environment in which natural
plants and animals play insignificant role. However
"That there is no class of engineering work which
the overall quality of life of settlement has improved.
requires more detailed study of local conditions and
formation of ground than the alignment of drainage Acknowledgement
cuts in the apparently flat alluvial plains of, this S.C. Goyal, author was posted on this Ganga Canal
country. Unless great care is taken, a drain constructed during 1976 to 1980 as Assistant Engineer at Haridwar.
for the benefit of one village may do serious injury to Credit for writing this paper goes to Prof. Raj Pal
the lands of other village lower down its course. In Singh, the then Executive Engineer on this prestigious
nearly every case, personal inspection of the country, Ganga Canal head works at Roorkee, and now
must be seen frequently during or immediately after associated in W.R.D.M., I.I.T. Roorkee.
heavy rain, and careful notes must be made of the
course of natural drainage and of the effects of the
floods in each village.” 1. A report on the agricultural canals of piedmont and
Lombardy, By R. Baird Smith F.G.S. Vol.-I, II
"Of the great benefits resulting to the country from London 1855.
these works, there can be no question, large areas,
2. A short account of the Ganges Canal, By Col. Baird
which previously were either water logged or subject to Smith R.E. Roorkee 1870.
periodical floods, have now been drained and brought
3. Project of Permanent Head Works of Upper Ganges
under cultivation; the sanitary condition of the villages
Canal of Haridwar 1910.
has been improved; the spread of saline efflorescence
in the soil has been checked, and the level of sub soil 4. Report on the Ganges Canal works by Colonel Sir P.T.
Cautley K.C.B, F.R.S., Vol. I, II and III London 1860.
water, if it has not been lowered, has been kept from
rising to the level it would otherwise have reached 5. Report on the silt problems of upper Ganga Canal By
under the influence of past 10 years of abnormal Dr. Bharat Singh Professor, WRDTC, University of
rainfall". Roorkee, Roorkee 1972.
6. Report of Alaknanda Enquiry committee (Govt. of
Conclusion INDIA), to enquire, examine and finally report on
The continuous development of Irrigation over a long silting of upper Ganga Canal in 1970.
time in Gangetic plain in Uttar Pradesh has 7. History of Irrigation in U.P. By Prof. Nayan Sharma
progressively contributed to improve the socio- and Prof. Rajpal Singh through Department of
W.R.D.M., I.I.T. Roorkee, March 2011.

102 Annual Technical Volume

Land Evaluation for Capability, Irrigability and
Suitability for Major Crops and its Management
H. C. Sharma
Dean, College of Technology
Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand

Ambrish Kumar
Principal Scientist, ICAR – Indian Institute of Soil & Water Conservation, Dehradun

Land evaluation in broad aspect is to assess current and future potential of land for given purpose and to plan
land use in such a way that the resources of the environment are put to the most beneficial use for mankind. Also it
enables one to get a picture of the hazards of the soils to various factors that cause soil damage, deterioration or
lowering in fertility and its potentiality for production. To get optimum returns from available land and water
resources it is necessary that the land should be evaluated for its capability, irrigability and suitability for major
crops. Owing to this need, the present study was conducted for soils of Budaun district and the land was evaluated
on the basis of various land features and soil characteristics. The study revealed that Parauli series was under
class I for land capability class while Dataganj and Ujhani Series were in class I for irrigability, which implies
that these soils have no significant limitation for different use of crop. Bagrain series was evaluated as class I in
irrigability and capability both. Also the suitability studies of entire study area resulted that wheat and sugarcane
were moderately suitable while maize and paddy were marginally suitable. On the basis of the suitability of
different soil series, and their morphological, physical and chemical characteristics, their use and management
for agricultural crop production have been suggested.

Introduction Description of the Study Area

There is tremendous pressure on agricultural land in The district Buduan of Uttar Pradesh is a typical
our country due to its rapid population growth. district of Rohelkhand region, which has about 5163
Considering the need for sustaining agricultural sq. km area. It is surrounded by Moradabad, Barielly,
production at reasonable level, we must put our land to Shajahanpur, Etah, Aligarh and Bulandshar districts
a specific use only after careful planning based on (Fig. 1). The area under 18 blocks forms a part of Indo -
scientific principles of land evaluation and Gangetic alluvial plain of quaternary to recent age with
management. Thus, it becomes essential for the flat topography and slopes from north-west to south-
scientists to determine the soils for its capability, east. The alluvium is composed of gravel, sands of
irrigability and suitability for raising a particular crop various grades, silt, clay and kankar in varying
so that farming becomes more economical. proportions. The beds are generally lenticular and
there are rapid alterations and gradations
Land capability classification is an interpretative
between granular clayey horizons. The topmost
grouping of soils mainly based on inherent
alluvial cover consists of soil having mixed sand
characteristics of soil, external land features and
and tiny mica flakes. The water bearing zones,
environmental factors; which may limit the use of land
below the soil cover area generally comprised of
for various purposes (AISLUSO, 1970). Land
medium to coarse sand with or without kankars. The
irrigability classification is a systematic appraisal of
deposits of sand beds are the main source of ground
land designated by classes on the basis of physical and
chemical characteristics (Resler, 1979). Land
suitability classification is the process of assessing the Climate : The area experiences moderate type to
suitability of land for specific kind of use (AISLUSO, subtropical monsoonic climate i.e. in summer it is dry
1970). and hot, and in winter it is mild but not frost-free. The

Annual Technical Volume 103

along with the % area under each series are given in
Table 1. The surface texture of all the series varies
from sand to silty clay loam, whereas in case of subsoil
texture it varies from sand to clay loam and profiles are
excessively to imperfectly well drained Alampur,
Amritpur, Babrala, Gunnor and Sahaswan series are
calcareous in nature; Gunnaur and Amritpur series are
also salt affected. Bagrain series occupies the largest
area (24.42%) whereas Sultanpur series occupies the
smallest area (0.71% only). These series occur
together in a particular pattern in the group of two or
more and their separation on the scale of
reconnaissance soil map was not practically feasible.
They have, therefore, been combined on the soil map
of district into 10 soil associations. These soil
Figure 1 Index map of Budaun district
associations were grouped with the names of
maximum temperature reaches occasionally beyond constituent soil series listed in order to their area
44o C during the months of May and June, and the occupied in a particular soil association.
lowest temperature sometimes goes below 10o C Based on local and field correlation each auger hole
during the month of January. The monsoon generally site, on the base map, was given a series name and
starts from June and lasts till October. The rainfall named with the symbol of that series, depending upon
during July, August and September contributes the the pattern of occurrence of that series in relation to
major part of monsoon rainfall. On the basis of I.M.D. landscape features, physiography, landform etc. Soil
data of rainfall, the normal rainfall of the area is 907.2 association boundaries were drawn on this map
mm. The rainfall increases west to east. (Figure 2). Numbers show different soil association
Soils : Based on morphological, physical and chemical areas on this map. For example, soil association
characteristics of soils studied, their associated number one is named as Ujhani-Bhatoli - Amritpur.
landscape features and field correlation of auger hole This indicates that in this association largest area is
data, 12 soil series, tentatively named after the towns occupied by Ujhani series followed by Bhatoli and
and villages of the district as Alampur, Amritpur, Amritpur series in that order. Soil series covering less
Babrala, Bagrain, Bhatoli, Dataganj, Gunnaur, Parauli, than 1% area in a particular association have not
Sahaswan, Sikarpur, Sultanpur and Ujhani were been included in the name of association. The
identified. The diagnostic properties of these soil series associated soil series in each association have been

Table 1 Diagnostic characteristics of soils of Badaun district

l- loam, sil- silty loam, sicl- silty clay loam, sl- sandy loam, ls- loamy sand, s- sand, cl- clay loam, imp - imperfectly drained,
pr - poorly drained, mw - moderately drained, wd - well drained, ed- excessively drained

104 Annual Technical Volume

Table 2 Physical and Chemical Properties of soils of Budaun District

indicated in the identification legend given with the Texture and Structure influences the air water balance
map. in the root zone and movement of water. Depth of soil
governs the depth of root zone, leaching and runoff
Land capability classification: Land capability
losses. The gradient and slope profoundly affects the
classification is an interpretative grouping of soil
rates of runoff and soil removal and indirectly amount
mainly based on inherent characteristics of soil,
of moisture absorbed by soil. The degree of erosion
external land features and environmental factors that
indicates decrease of productivity and suggests the
limit the use of land.
future use and treatment to overcome climatic factors
The taxonomic soil units established after field and that can place limitations on land use. A.I.S.L.U.S.O.
laboratory studies and their correlation are the ultimate (1970) grouped these factors into various land
management units that afford specific inherent capability classes ( Table 3 ) on the basis of severity of
information about ability of the soil to respond to use, limitation in crop production.
management and plant growth. The inherent soil
Capability classes : The land capability classes range
characteristics so identified have a definite role to play
from class I to VIII. The land of first four classes i.e
in the behaviour of the soil and its management such as
class I to IV, is suited for cultivation and of last four
parent material gives an idea of potential nutrient
classes i.e. class V to VIII, not suited for cultivation.
status of soil. Soil colour speaks of organic matter
The land of class V to VII is suitable for pasture and
content and the state of leaching and hydration.
forestry, and of class VIII is suitable for wild life. The
degree of permanent limitations increases when we
move from class I to class VIII, which implies that soils
of class I have no significant limitations, class II soils
have moderate limitations that reduce the choice of
plants or require moderate conservation practices,
class III soils have severe limitations that reduce the
choice of plants and require special conservation
practices. In the similar manner the limitations go on
increasing till class VIII soils.
Sub classes : Sub classes are given according to British
Columbia Land Inventory (BCLI) classification
system. They are indicated by small case letters such as
'c' for adverse climate, 'd' for low permeability or
undesirable soil structure, 'e' for erosion limitation, 'm'
Figure 2 Soil Association Map of Budaun District

Annual Technical Volume 105

Table 3 Land capability classification (A.I.S. & L.U.S.O)

for moisture limitation, 'n' for salinity, 'p' for stoniness, investigation were set against these requirements on
't' for topography and 'w' for excess water, drainage the framework of Sys (1980). The Land Rating Indices
problems and overflow. (L.R.I.) were then calculated, as follows, using the
formula proposed by Sys:
Land irrigability classification : This classification is
done by USBR method of land irrigability L.R.I. = A. (B/100) . (C/100) (1)
classification. This method is based on different factors
This value of L.R.I. was then compared against
causing limitations. It is quite recent, the factors
suitability class definition. These are S1 (highly
encountered are texture, depth, erosion, infiltration,
suitable) when L.R.I. is 75 or above; S2 (moderately
wetness, fertility, alkali/salt limitation. This is a broad
suitable) when L.R.I. is between 50 and 75; and S3
level of generalization. This classification has similar
(marginally suitable) when L.R.I. is between 25 and
considerations as those of land capability
50. When L.R.I. is below 25 the land is considered to be
classification. Accordingly, 5 land classes have been
not suitable (N).
identified. Three of them are suitable for general
irrigation, one is limited suitable or suited for special 2. Limiting Condition Model (FAO, 1976) : In
crops and only one is unsuitable for irrigation. deciding the suitability class on limiting condition
model, the individual land characteristics/ qualities
Sub classes : This is the second degree of
rated equal to or above 85 was considered as highly
generalization. Each class of soil is sub divided into
suitable (S1), between 60 and 85 as moderately suitable
sub classes according to dominant kind of limitations,
(S2), between 45 and 60 as marginally suitable (S3) and
which is indicated by small case letters e.g. t, e, s, w,
below 45 as unsuitable (N). The overall suitability of
etc. USBR (1953) grouped the above mentioned
the soil group was then decided on the basis of the
factors into various land irrigability classes and sub
lowest individual rating as limiting to overall
classes (Tables 4 & 5).
Land suitability classification : Three models were
3. Productivity Rating Index Model (Soil Survey Staff,
used for the land suitability studies as given below,
1951) : In this model the Productivity Rating Index
1. Sys Model (Sys, 1980) : The climate, landscape and (PRI) was calculated as follows using the yield data.
soil requirement for the crops under investigation in
In the present investigation the standard yields of
relation to limitations and suitability classes were
maize, paddy, wheat and sugarcane crops were taken as
taken as per guidelines of Sys (1980). The observed
50, 60, 60 and 900 q/ha, respectively. The PRI's were
climatic, landscape and soil data in the area under

106 Annual Technical Volume

Table 4 USBR method for determining land classes for irrigation

Table 5 Limitation level and their ratings

then matched against the % of optimum yield values of

Dent and young (1981) for developing countries to
arrive at the appropriate suitability class (Table 6).
Results and Discussion subclass 'n' due to salinity problem. Sultanpur series
has subclass 'm' due to low moisture holding capacity.
Land capability Alampur, Bhatoli, Gunnaur, Sahaswan and Sikarpur
Bagrain and Parauli series have been put under the have been put under class III as these soils have
capability class I as these soils have no significant moderately severe limitations and require special
limitations for land use (Table 7). Dataganj, Sultanpur conservation practices. Bhatoli series has subclass 'w'
and Ujhani series have been classified as class II land due to imperfect drainage. Gunnaur and Amritpur
as these soils have moderate limitations that restrict the series have subclass 'nw' as the soils are salt affected
range of crops. Alampur and Dataganj series have and imperfectly drained. Sahaswan series has subclass

Table 6 Suggested guidelines for comparing crop yield with suitability class for developing countries

* % of optimum yield in the present investigation has been taken equivalent to productivity rating index (PRI)

Annual Technical Volume 107

'ew' due to severe erosion and poor drainage. Babrala Babrala, Bagrain, Dataganj, Gunnaur and Sahaswan
series has subclass 'w' due to poor drainage. Sikarpur series were moderately suitable (S2) as resulted by
series has subclass 'em' which indicates severe erosion limiting condition model and remaining other soil
and low moisture holding capacity. Amritpur and series were marginally suitable (S3).
Babrala series have been put under class IV as these
For paddy production: According to PRI model all soil
soils have severe limitations that restrict the choice of
series were marginally suitable (S3). Bagrain,
plants and require careful management.
Dataganj, Parauli, Sikarpur, Sultanpur and Ujhani
Land irrigability series were not suitable (N) according to Sys model
and rest all series were marginally suitable. According
Bagrain, Dataganj and Ujhani series have been
to limiting condition model Alampur, Amritpur,
grouped under class I as these series have no significant
Babrala, Bagrain and Sahaswan series were
limitation. Alampur, Amritpur, Bhatoli, Gunnaur and
moderately suitable (S2) and remaining were
Parauli series have been put under class II land due to
marginally suitable (S3).
moderate limitations. Alampur series has subclass 'f
'due to high pH value. Bhatoli series has subclass For wheat production: According to PRI model all
'w'due to imperfect drainage. Babrala, Sahaswan and series were moderately suitable. According to Sys
Sultanpur series are classified under class III land due model Alampur series was highly suitable (S1),
to moderately severe limitations. Amritpur, Babrala, Sahaswan series was moderately suitable (S2) while
Gunnaur and Sahaswan series have subclass 'fw' due to Amritpur, Babrala, Bhatoli, Gunnaur, Sikarpur and
high pH value and poor drainage. Sikarpur series Sultanpur series were marginally suitable (S3) and rest
comes under class V due to severe limitations and thus were not suitable (N). According to limiting condition
this land is not probably considered for cultivation. model except Dataganj series all soil series were
Sikarpur and Sultanpur series have subclass't' due to moderately suitable and Dataganj series was
low moisture holding capacity. marginally suitable.
Land suitability For sugarcane production: According to PRI model all
series were moderately suitable. While according to
For maize production: According to PRI model all
Sys model Alampur, Bagrain, Dataganj, Gunnaur and
series were marginally suitable (S3) while by Sys
Sikarpur series were moderately suitable and
model Alampur, Dataganj and Parauli series were
remaining were marginally suitable (S3). According to
moderately suitable (S2) and Sikarpur and Sultanpur
limiting condition model, Alampur, Bagrain, Dataganj
series were not suitable (N) and rest all were
and Gunnaur series were highly suitable and rest all
moderately suitable (S3) (Table 8). Alampur, Amritpur,
were moderately suitable.
Table 7 Land capability and irrigability classes

108 Annual Technical Volume

Table 8 Land suitability classes according to the computed indices

Taking into consideration all the three models finally fertilizers for better results. Thus, the soil series that
the overall suitability of all four crops for the soils of are marginally suitable could be made moderately
Budaun district indicated that sugarcane and wheat suitable and the soils that are moderately suitable could
were moderately suitable while maize and paddy were be made highly suitable if the above management
marginally suitable. practices are provided.
Use and Management References
On account of varying characteristics of soils and 1. Bali, Y.P. and R.L. Karale, 1978. Soil survey
associated landscape features the behaviour of soils interpretations for watershed development. In: Soil
towards crop production also varies. In view of this the Resource data for Agricultural Development, Leslic, S.
and D. Leslic (ed.), pp.73-84.
use and management of each soil for a particular crop
shall be governed according to its characteristics, 2. Challa, O., A.R. Kalbande, S.L. Durge and S. Vadivelu,
climate and socio-economic conditions prevailing in 1989. Land evaluation for irrigation by two systems. Jl.
the area. This aspect is being discussed here. The major Indian Soc. Soil Sc., 37(3), pp 532-538.
problem associated with the soils of Alampur, 3. Dutta, H.K and R.M. Karmakar,1998. Soil survey of
Amritpur, Babrala, Bhatoli, Gunnaur and Sahaswan horticultural orchard of Assam Agricultural University,
series is its imperfect to poor drainage. At improved Jorhat. Jl. Agri. Sc. Soc. of North East India 11:1,
level of management with the provision of surface pp 10-14.
drainage, the soil productivity could be improved to 4. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
high suitability level for all major crops. Nations),1976. A Framework for Land Evaluation.
Soils Bull. 32, FAO, Rome, 72 pp.
Alampur, Amritpur, Sahaswan, Sultanpur and Sikarpur
are associated with moderate to severe slopes that leads 5. Kumar S., A.K. Sharma, T.R. Rathore, and H. N. Singh,
to the problem of erodibility. These problems could be 1995. Soils of Budaun district of U.P. Research
Bulletin No. 2.
easily managed with adequate provision of irrigation
and land leveling and proper application of fertilizers 6. Madsen, H.B., 1979. Soil surveying for evaluating soil
and manures. The soils of Bagrain, Babrala, Dataganj, capability on the basis of soil water retention, root
Parauli, Sikarpur, Sultanpur and Ujhani are coarser in development of barley and simulated plant production.
texture due to which nutrient and moisture availability Folia Geographica Danica, 10(5), pp 203-206.
to crops are low. Addition of organic manures would be 7. Mapa, R.B., 1990. Evaluation of irrigation suitability
fruitful for getting optimum yields from these soils. for two Srilanka soils. In: Int. Agri. Engg. Conference
The soils require frequent irrigation and high doses of and Exhibition, Bangkok, Thailand, Vol. III, pp 819-

Annual Technical Volume 109

8. Mathur, A. and R.P. Tripathi, 1987. Land use pattern 13. Sharma, A.K., 1997. Land evaluation for agriculture
and some soil physical properties of a mini watershed. and forestry. A short course sponsored by ICAR. New
Jl. Indian Soc. Soil Sci., 35(1), pp 262-267. Delhi.
9. Mayalagu, K. P. Poonkodi, and P. Paramasivam, 1998. 14. Singh, K., S.D.Verma and B.R. Tripathi, 1989.
Detailed soil survey and evaluation for land use Toposeqence studies on the soils development in a
interpretative grouping in Tamil Nadu Agriculture periodic moisture regime of Himachal Pradesh II.
University Farm, Coimbatore. Madras Agricultural Genesis and Classification. Indian Jl. Agri. Research,
Journal 85, (5-6), pp 280-285. 23(2), pp 75-80.
10. Mishra, D.P and S.S.K. Nanda, 1984. A system of soil 15. Soil Conservation Service, 2002. Land Capability
and land irrigability classification for monsoonal Classification of North South Wales.
humid and sub-humid regions. Jl. Indian Soc. Soil Sci.,
16. Soil Survey Staff, 1970. Soil Survey Manual. All India
32(1), pp 150-157.
Soil and Land Use Survey Organisation, IARI, New
11. Resler, L.L., 1979. World Soil Resource Report 50, pp Delhi.
17. Sys, C., 1980. Land Evaluation parts I, II and III.
12. Sharma, A.K., Suman Kumar and H.N. Singh, 1995. International Training Center for Post Graduate Soil
Soil survey, mapping and land evaluation for Scientists, State University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium.
agricultural use and planning in the area under the
18. Sys, C., 1981. Evaluation of soil and landscape criteria
responsibility of the University. Experiment Station,
with respect to land use potentials in Europe.
G.B. Pant University of Agri. & Tech., Pantnagar.
Pedologie, 3(2), pp 337-348.

110 Annual Technical Volume

Traditional Irrigation Systems in India
N. P. S. Nagi
Regional Director, Central Ground Water Board, Ministry of Water Resources
River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, NHR, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh
S. K. Mahammad Sartaj Basha
Senior Technical Assistant (Hg.), Central Ground Water Board, Ministry of Water Resources
River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, NHR, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh

Brief about Traditional Irrigation Systems

Traditional irrigation is the artificial application of
water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the
growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of
landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry
areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall.
Additionally, irrigation also has a few other uses in
crop production, which include protecting plants
against frost,[1] suppressing weed growth in grain
fields[2] and preventing soil consolidation.[3] In
contrast, agriculture that relies only on direct rainfall is
referred to as rain-fed or dryland farming.
Traditional irrigation systems are also used for dust
suppression, disposal of sewage, and in mining.
Irrigation is often studied together with drainage,
which is the natural or artificial removal of surface and
sub-surface water from a given area.
Types of Traditional Irrigation Systems
A. Traditional Irrigation Systems
(i) Check Basin System Figure 1 Check basin technique
(ii) Furrow Irrigation System
basins are made according to the inflow of water.
(iii) Strip Irrigation System These basins are surrounded by small furrows. Branch
(iv) Basin Irrigation System 'Dhora' flows towards the slope from the main 'Dhora'.
If the slope of branch 'Dhora' is steep, 'mooonja' or
B. Modern Irrigation Systems polythene is spread in it to prevent erosion of sides.
(v) Sprinkler Irrigation System The main source of water is located at the highest place
in the field.
(vi) Drip Irrigation System
The width of drains is affected by factors like flow of
(vii) Pot Irrigation System water, %age, slope and structure of the ground etc. The
A. Traditional Irrigation Systems length of 'Dhora' is different depending on the basis of
slope and formation of the fields. This method is also
(i) Check Basin System prevalent in India as it does not cause any burden on
In this method, the whole field is divided into basins the farmer.
according to the capacity of water. Basins are (ii) Furrow Irrigation System
connected through a 'Dhora' (A small drain type flow
way), which has raised earthen walls on both sides. Furrow irrigation method is resorted to where crops are
'Dhora' is of two types, one is the main 'Dhora' and the one grown in rows. Along the side of rows of crops,
other 'Dhora' is connected to basins (Figure 1). Size of 'Dol' is formed, and in between two such 'Dols', a

Annual Technical Volume 111

furrow is formed in which water flows for irrigation.
The quantity of flow of water depends on demand of
water by plants and the rate of infiltration (Figure 2).

Figure 3 Strip irrigation system

(iv) Basin Irrigation System

This irrigation method is more suited for horticulture
development. In this method, a raised platform called
'Thanvla' is formed around trees or bushes and they are
connected with each other through drains and the water
reaches from one tree to the other. This method is not
suitable for crops (Figure 4).

Figure 2 Furrow irrigation method

In different situations, different furrow methods are

used (Surajbhan 1978). They are mainly of five types:
1. Slopy Furrow
2. Leveled Furrow
3. Contour Furrow
4. Serial Furrow
5. Corrugated Furrow
(iii) Strip Irrigation System
In strip irrigation method, fields are divided into strips
of different size. A boundary called 'Med' is formed to
separate the strips. These strips are constructed
according to the slope. The source of water is situated Figure 4 Basin irrigation system
at the highest place in the field from where the whole
field can get the flow of water. B. Modern Irrigation System
The width of strips is decided as per quantity of water. (v) Sprinkler Irrigation Method
More wastage of water is caused if strips are wider.
In present times, when water crisis is developing very
Length of strip is decided by the slope of land and its
fast everywhere, we should adopt improved
structure. Effect of soil composition is also visible on it
techniques of irrigation to encourage suitable water
(Figure 3).

112 Annual Technical Volume

management. Sprinkler irrigation method is an easy mm. Side pipelines are fitted with drippers from where
and simple method of irrigation in present times. water falls in drops. Efficiency of drip irrigation
method depends on suitable operation of drippers.
The whole land becomes available for cultivation of
Flow rate of drippers is 2 to 10 litres per hour. This
crops, whereas in traditional irrigation methods, 15 to
system of irrigation is established on the basis of type
20% land remains vacant in depressions and
of crop, distance between plants, requirement of water
boundaries. Modern equipment's can also be used in it
for crops and distance of water source from the field
due to absence of depressions and boundaries. Rate of
(Figure 6).
infiltration is higher in sandy soils where frequency of
watering is more. Hence, sprinkler irrigation method is
more suited to sandy soils.
In sprinkler irrigation method, water is taken from
source to the fields through pipes, whereas in surface
irrigation methods only 30-45% water reaches the
crops. Such loss of water is avoided in sprinkler
irrigation method. The problem of water logging or
'kallar' may be caused in case of excess water from
surface irrigation, whereas no such problem is caused
in sprinkler irrigation method. The balance of
groundwater is also maintained (Figure 5).

Figure 6 Drip irrigation method

(vii) Pot Irrigation Method

Pot irrigation method is more suitable for areas having
scanty rainfall. In saline areas where flow irrigation is
not suited, pot irrigation method is successful. An
earthen pitcher is used in this method. The pitcher is
fixed in the ground up to neck.
Holes are made in the pitcher and water is filled in it so
that seepage of water through the holes keeps the
nearby soil moist. Water is filled in these pitchers at
Figure 5 Sprinkler irrigation method
regular intervals. This method can be considered as an
(vi) Structure of Drip Irrigation Method alternative of drip irrigation method.

The following are the main organs of drip irrigation Commonly used Traditional Systems in Himachal
method: water pump, main PVC, pipeline, branch PVC Pradesh
pipeline connected to main line, plastic pipes (i) Kul
connected to branch line, drippers connected with
plastic pipes, fertilizer tank for application of Kuls are water channels found in precipitous mountain
fertilizers, valve, water measure, pressure controller, areas. These channels carry water from glaciers to
filter etc. Internal radius of side pipe is from 10 to 32 villages in the Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh.

Annual Technical Volume 113

(ravine) for storage and diversion of the flow through a
Where the terrain is muddy, the kul is lined with rocks
canal to the fields. By modern standards, building
to keep it from becoming clogged.
kuhls was simple, with boulders and labour forming
the major input. The kuhl was provided with moghas
(kuchcha outlets) to draw out water and irrigate nearby
terraced fields. The water would flow from field to
field and surplus water, if and, would drain back to the
The kuhls were constructed and maintained by the
village community. At the beginning of the irrigation
season, the kohli (the water tender) would organise the
irrigators to construct the headwall, repair the kuhl and
make the system operational. The kohli played the role
of a local engineer. Any person refusing to participate
in construction and repair activities without valid
reason, would be denied water for that season. Since
denial of water was a religious punishment, it ensured
community participation and solidarity. A person was
(ii) Khatri also free to participate by providing a substitute for his
labour. The kohli also distributed and managed the
Khatris are structures, about 10x12 feet in size and six water (Figure 7).
feet deep carved out in the hard rock mountain. The
specially trained masons construct them at a cost of Rs
10,000-20,000 each. These traditional water
harvesting structures are found in Hamirpur, Kangra
and Mandi districts of Himachal Pradesh.
There are two types of khatris: one for animals and
washing purposes in which rain water is collected from
the roof through pipes, and other used for human
consumption in which rainwater is collected by
seepage through rocks. Interestingly, the khatris are
owned by individual as well as by a community. There Figure 7 Incorporating Traditional Methods of with Water
are government khatris as well, which are maintained Management in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India
by the panchayat.
Access to water is a significant factor for the survival of
(iii) Kuhl north Indian farmers in villages that are situated
Kuhls are a traditional irrigation system in Himachal particularly in hilly areas. These villages often have
Pradesh- surface channels diverting water from natural inadequate surface water sources so they rely on
flowing streams (khuds). A typical community kuhl rainwater. Our project's goal was to evaluate traditional
services six to 30 farmers, irrigating an area of about 20 irrigation practices in Mandi District in Himachal
ha.The system consists of a temporary headwall Pradesh and to design a model to provide farmers at
(constructed usually with river boulders) across a khud higher altitudes with a sustainable, self-sufficient and

114 Annual Technical Volume

cost-effective water management system. Through site about 70% of total rainfall per year. The present study
assessments and interviews with local farmers, we in agreement that the need for irrigation was high, but
learned that there is a greater need for drinking water noted that cost and terrain as key reasons for
than irrigation water. Therefore, our design utilizes inaccessibility. The most surprising finding was that
water-harvesting techniques to gather rainwater in a agency officials use a cost-benefit analysis to
tank that can be used for irrigation or routed through a determine action. They focus on helping villages that
water purification system for drinking purposes. could provide better income. There are several
government schemes and projects implemented
Local irrigation systems have been handed down
throughout the district to improve irrigation on fields.
through generations becoming a tradition in India, with
The MGNREGA scheme has helped farmers by
regional farmers designing processes that were
constructing the kuhls or diversion channels using
invented to adapt to the landscape. In the northern state
concrete for more permanent structures. Modern
of Himachal Pradesh, traditional irrigation methods
techniques such as the micro-irrigation system and
such as canals (kuhls) have been built by local
poly-houses were also introduced to produce better
residents to draw water from the small streams that
quality crops by subsidizing 80% of the total cost.
originate from hill springs. The springs are the only
Farmers living on hilly mountains received minimal
reliable sources of water in a number of locales. As
help as they are remote areas and have a lower %age of
elsewhere, though, new technologies have been
implemented to improve the traditional styles of
irrigation. In the villages located near plentiful water sources
there was, in every case that we encountered, an
occurrence of kuhls. The farmers would divert water
from the river through their farms and back to the river.
These kuhls are used, in addition to irrigation purposes,
in the operation of mills. In only one scenario did we
find that the kuhls were government subsidized,
everywhere else they were hand dug by the farmers
who operated the farms.
At the higher elevations we found that the farmers were
much more self-reliant; they use smaller fields to grow
crops for self-consumption. As the crops being grown
are not being used for profit, they are not putting active
efforts towards improving the irrigational methods and
Methodology rainwater is reportedly sufficient for the time being.
Our goal was to evaluate traditional methods of We found through interviews and site assessments that
irrigation and to design a model to provide farmers on water is unsafe; there have been reports of people
higher altitudes with a sustainable, self-sufficient, and getting severe stomach illnesses. Due to increasing
cost-effective water management system. The goal demand, government is focusing more on drinking
was accomplished through four objectives: water than irrigation. This has led the government to
build storage tanks for local villagers. We discovered
We identified
è and evaluated factors that influence
two cost-effective and easily accessible methods such
a design for irrigation.
as the solar water disinfection (SODIS), which exposes
We assessed
è the government policies and public water to sunlight for a period of time, and the sari cloth
responses to these policies and irrigation issues. filter, where old women's cloth is folded four to eight
times to strain away bacteria that is usually present in
We evaluated villages situated on different altitude
the water. After assessing irrigation methods and water
levels and assessed their irrigation techniques.
needs of villages in Mandi district, we determined that
We designed
è a model of water harvesting and a rainwater harvesting technique would be applicable,
made recommendations that can support farmers. especially since these areas receive abundant rainfall
during monsoon season.
Using Google Maps, we found a topographical map
specifying altitude levels of different villages. The The present study revealed an important water issue
map indicates the steep terrain, access to water, and the that villagers are facing besides irrigation for fields. In
distribution of small villages throughout the district. 2007, a drought destroyed the local harvest of
Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, covers subsistence farmers. Due to the drought, farmers did

Annual Technical Volume 115

not even have drinking water for days and the References
government failed to provide any form of assistance. A 1. American Society for Microbiology (2010, May 20).
system like this could alleviate the impacts of Sari cloth a simple sustainable protector from cholera.
unanticipated natural disasters, and increase the Science Daily. Retrieved from.
overall resilience of the community. The ability to
2. Center for Science and Environment. (n.d.). Water
recover for these calamities can be a struggle for harvesting systems: Traditional systems. Retrieved
communities living at higher elevations. This model f r o m h t t p : / / w w w. r a i n w a t e r h a r v e s t i n g . o r g /
can augment water supply to these hilly areas Rural/Traditional3.htm
especially in times of drought. Since most of the
3. Government of Himachal Pradesh Irrigation and Public
farmers utilize rainwater for irrigation, the design also
Health Department. (2005). Himachal Pradesh State
captures rainwater through roof gutters and stores it in Water Policy. Retrieved from http://www.ielrc.
a tank. Our study sought to improve the lives of farmers org/content/e0517.pdf
particularly those situated in vulnerable locations at
higher altitudes by creating a model of water 4.
management system that is easily accessible and
maintained. We realize that this scheme may not be 5. h t t p : / / w w w. r a i n w a t e r h a r v e s t i n g . o r g /
suitable for constant use but it does provide a certain Rural/
level of safety and assurance that even during extreme 6. The Himachal Pradesh Ground Water (Regulation and
weather the livelihood of the farmers will be preserved. Control of Development and Management) Act. (2005).
This solution can help villagers and farmers on hilly Retrieved from
areas around Himachal Pradesh and other states that e0507.pdf.
have limited access to surface water but have abundant 7. World Bank Group. (2011). Growth and productivity in
source of rainwater. agriculture and agribusiness: evaluative lessons from
World Bank Group experience. Washington, D.C: The
World Bank.

116 Annual Technical Volume

Sustainable Water Resource Management for
Efficient Irrigation System
Ambrish Kumar
Principal Scientist, ICAR – Indian Institute of Soil & Water Conservation, Dehradun
B. L. Dhyani
Principal Scientist, ICAR – Indian Institute of Soil & Water Conservation, Dehradun
P. K. Mishra
ICAR – Indian Institute of Soil & Water Conservation, Dehradun

Introduction whereas the area under the NWH, comprising of

Himachal Pradesh (HP), Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)
Out of about 141 m.Ha of net area sown in the country,
and Uttarakhand is 33.1 million ha. Agriculture
about 65 million hectare (or 45%) is presently covered
continues to be the mainstay of the people of the hills
under irrigation. Substantial dependency on rainfall
(about 78% of the population in Indian Himalayan
makes cultivation in unirrigated areas a high risk, less
region is rural despite the fact that the hills experience
productive profession. Empirical evidences suggest adverse agro-climatic conditions.
that assured or protective irrigation encourages
farmers to invest more in farming technology and Low productivity and cropping intensity, subsistence
inputs leading to productivity enhancement and level of farming is attributed to poor irrigation facility
increased farm income ( While the in the hilly areas. To enhance the productivity and
situation in Hill and Mountain region is more livelihood in the Hill farmining situations Himalayan
vulnerable, where major arable land( > 80 %) is rain foothills, development of Irrigation System which
dependent. Himalayas is environmentally sensitive, could be able to provide irrigation to each farm is felt
economically marginalized and densely populated in need. In this direction, recently launched Pradhan
proximity of the arable lands is highly vulnerable to the Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) with the
impacts of these changes that may cause a substantial objectives of 'Har Khet Ko Pani' and 'per drop more
decrease in availability of water for drinking and food crop'could be a major push to mobilize the farmers
production, and consequently increase the towards remunerative agriculture. PMKSY has been
vulnerability of food and agricultural systems in the conceived as an amalgamation of ongoing schemes
entire region (Cline, 2008), that aggravate the situation viz. Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP)
of already existing Critically Diversified Risk prone of the Ministry of Water Resources, River
Agriculture (CDRA). In the prevailing system under Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,
non-availability of irrigation water, farmers grow rain- RD&GR), Integrated Watershed Management
fed cereals with very low yields. However, farmers use Programme (IWMP) of Department of Land
water of low-discharge springs (discharge <20 l/min) Resources (DoLR) and the On Farm Water
at very small scale in a unsystematic and scattered Management (OFWM) of Department of Agriculture
manner of vegetable production. Plant to plant hand and Cooperation (DAC). The objectives envisaged
watering is the most efficient water application under PMKSY may be achieved by upscaling and
method, but it requires a huge amount of labour. disseminating the successful project -- 'Participatory
Dissemination and Assessment of Land and Water
Geographically, hills and mountains are spread all over Management Technologies for Livelihood Security in
the country covering more than twenty states. Rain-fed Areas of North Western Himalayas, which
However, the largest area is located in the Himalayas. was funded by the Ministry of Rural development. In
It consists of two distinct regions, viz., North-Eastern this endeavor, rain-fed cultivable lands of the villages
hills (NEH) and North-Western hills (NWH). The total – Pasauli and Devthala were selected for setting up a
geographical area in the NEH, comprising of water conveyance system towards developing
Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, irrigation facility on the basis of the participatory
Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura, is 18.4 million ha, approach.

Annual Technical Volume 117

Description of Site the water through underground PVC pipelines (110
mm ) to the farmers' fields, by gravity flow with
The study area, comprising a village cluster – Gadoria,
maximum 26.5 m gravity head. PVC pipeline (1500m)
Devthala, Pasauli, and Dungakhet, is about 40 km
was laid across the command area in such a way that it
away from Dehradun on Vikasnagar - Langha Road.
can supply the water to the farmers' fields spread in the
Preliminary survey conducted in 2005 indicated that
command area with 10-12 LPS discharge. The
out of total 321 farm families of these villages, 82%
command area is divided into 19 Unit Command Areas
belonged to socially backward (SC, ST & OBC) and
(UCA) and a UCA covers 1.5 ha. At the head of each
about 80% were economically poor. Total agricultural
UCA, one riser (outlet) is fitted on the PVC pipeline to
land of the four villages is 165.08 ha and majority
uniformly deliver the water. In order to enhance the
(about 85%) of it is rainfed. The irrigated area in
field application efficiency, collapsible synthetic pipes
Dungakhet, Pasauli, and Godaria was 20%, 11% and
are being used by the farmers. Distribution of water for
98%, respectively but Devthala had only rain
the irrigation to each beneficiary farmer is regulated by
dependant agriculture. This clearly indicates a very
the committee constituted by the Water Users
meager irrigation facility in Pasauli & Devthala
Association (WUA). Water being shared among the
villages so they were selected for the intervention of
farmers' fields on the rotation basis as decided by the
water resource generation.
WUA and farmers get his turn in 15 days (irrigation
The area is totally dominated by marginal (92%) and period). In one season, delivery of water follows the
small (7%) farmers. About 85% of the stakeholders sequence from head to the tail riser and in next season
were solely dependent on agriculture or agricultural delivery sequence gets reversed order to negate the
wages. Low productivity of crops due to rain clash among the farmers.
dependent farming and non-awareness of improved
The plan of the irrigation system, comprising of
crop production technologies, low productivity of
different components, viz; water conveyance system;
animals due to non-availability of nutritive fodder,
Intake structure, GI pipeline and distribution tanks,
poorly available off-farm employment opportunities
and water distribution system; PVC distribution
are attributed to the poor economic condition of the
pipelines and risers are described below.
farmers. The area represents a typical sub-tropical
climate with high intensity storms during the rainy Implementation of the System
season and scanty rainfall there after. The area is
Water Conveyance
drained by two torrents, namely Utmadi Rao (torrent)
and Gauna torrent. Undulating topography, faulty land It covers the part of system from source to distribution
management practices coupled with high intensity tank which was constructed at the head of the
storms result in high runoff and soil loss from the area command area, and consists of Intake Structure, GI
during the rainy season while acute water shortage is Pipeline and Distribution Tank. The plan of the water
experienced in the lean period. conveyance is presented in Figure 1.
Water Conveyance System Intake Structure
In participatory rural appraisal and subsequent Water source of the GRAvity-fed Irrigation System
topographical engineering survey, a site situated at (GRAIS) was identified below the inlet structure of the
latitude – 30027'40.16''N, longitude -77053'59.77'' E drinking water supply scheme of Uttarakhand Jal
and altitude - 745 m amsl in a Serukhala perennial Sansthan (UJS) located on the bank of the stream
stream, was identified to tap the surplus water for (SeruKhala), because of sufficient surplus flow over
creating an irrigation facility in Pasauli and part of the inlet structure of UJS, that was the specific
Devthala villages. The minimum lean flow recorded advantage of the site and there was no any risk of social
during the study period (2005-2010) was 11.4 dispute between old drinking scheme of UJS and
Litre/Second (LPS). An elevation difference of 26.5 m newly proposed water conveyance system envisaged
between water source and delivery point indicated the under the project. Besides, it is a perennial stream
possibility of development of gravity fed conveyance having average minimum lean flow 11.4 LPS as
system for irrigation. An Intake Structure (IS) was recorded during the study period, and a tributary of
constructed at the source to convey water from source Gauna river which flows along North-eastern
to Distribution Tank (DT) through Galvanized Iron boundary of the command area. On the basis of being
(GI) pipe (diameter ,,: 100 mm) of length 1830 m, by firm stream banks and gentle slopes in and on the
gravity flow with hydraulic gradient 1.96 %. stream bank, and considering the interests of owners of
Distribution tank having a capacity of 50,000 liters and watermills lying below the source point, the site was
inflow at DT is 10 - 12 LPS. The tank is located at the selected for construction of an intake structure. It was
head of the command area (26.28 ha) in order to convey constructed in the stream as two tier chambers in a

118 Annual Technical Volume

Figure 1 : Layout of water conveyance from intake structure to Distribution tank

cascading manner as upper and lower. Plan and side

elevation views of the intake structure are presented in
Figures 2 and 3, respectively. First, stone masonry
cutoff wall, depth – 1.20 m, length – 8.50 m and
thickness – 0.50m, was constructed for setting up the
upper chamber in order to make a bypass arrangement
for uninterrupted flow with the adequate head to
watermill lying just below the selected site. For this
purpose, a low height (0.8 m) wall was raised above the
bed surface towards maintaining the adequate head
required for operating the watermill as owner of the
watermill raised his concern about insufficient head for
running the watermill. R.C.C. headwall, height -2,
length – 7.4 m and wall thickness – 0.50m was
constructed at a distance of 4m from the cutoff wall for
the lower chamber as the capacity of water storage of
lower chamber was comparatively large. Side walls,
Figure 2 : Plan of the intake structure of the water thickness – 0.5 m, of both the chambers were made up
conveyance system with stone masonry. In order to check sub-surface
water flow, the foundation of the wall was extended
deeper to form an impervious barrier below the head
wall. On the downside, a gabion base was constructed
because of sudden drop and unstable debris deposit
that served the purpose of the apron as well. In fact this
base was constructed in step manner to act as a
retaining wall of the intake structure, along with
protection of bank from erosion. An inlet well,
rectangular in shape and 1x1x2m in size was set up at
down, left end of the R.C.C headwall of the lower
chamber. It was connected with lower chamber by
perforated GI pipe of 120 mm that acts as a filter. For
smooth inflow to the inlet, two GI pipes of 3 m long
each with 1.25mm holes (as a perforation) were used.
The opening space on each pipe was kept 40%, so that
Figure 3 : Elevation of intake structure along left bank of hydraulic friction by constriction of flow into the holes
the stream would not affect the smooth flow into the inlet well.

Annual Technical Volume 119

Hence the total opening area of perforations was kept capacity of 50,000 liters was constructed at an altitude
too much larger than the cross-sectional area of the of 709 m amsl and was fed with water conveying
main GI pipeline. Filter materials such as gravels, through the main GI pipe by gravity flow from the
pebbles and stones were packed around the filter pipes source. A gate valve was fixed to the main GI pipe
in three layers, viz; outer layer with 10 – 20 mm size of before delivering the water into the tank with an
gravel, second layer with pebbles of size (>20 mm) and objective to control the discharge of incoming
third inner layer around the perforated pipes with pipeline. A schematic diagram of the masonry tank is
stones. The reason behind the arrangement of filter is given in Figures 5 and 6 showing all essential
to make the flow free from any blockage in the pipe. components of the tank. Perforated pipes as a filter
For water conveyance, the main GI pipeline was fixed were fitted to the outflow unit of the tank in order to
at a height of 45 cm from the bottom of inlet well, so check the entry of any trash, leaf or refuse into the
that the fine soil particles get settled on the bottom of distribution pipeline. The tank was covered with wire
inlet well. mesh to prevent the children from entry to the tank.
The walls of the tank were made with inside sloping
Laying of GI Pipeline
with top width 0.45 m. In fact, the tank was
GI pipeline, 100 mm , was laid out from inlet well to a constructed on earthfill site; there was a risk to uneven
distribution tank located at the head of the command
area, covering a distance of 1.9 km. A sluice valve was
fixed on the pipeline near the inlet well in order to
control the flow or for the purpose of repair &
maintenance of 1.9 km long pipeline laid on the
unstable and precipitous slopes of Gauna river in
Outer Himalaya. At 185 m from the source, the pipe
was laid underground to cross the river which is 18 m
wide. For protection of the pipe from flowing debris in
the river, particularly in the monsoon, gabion barrier
on the down side of the pipeline along the width of the
river was erected. A perusal of Figure 4 showing the
longitudinal section of the proposed pipeline reveals
the ground surface is 3-4 m above the hydraulic line,
drawn with the data collected from surveying the line,
in the segment between 1600 m and 2000 m. Thus, a
trench with varying depth (3 to 4m) in the elevated

Figure 5 : Plan of the distribution tank

Figure 4 : L-section of line between source and distribution

tank Figure 6 : Elevation of distribution tank at Section A-A

segment was dug befitting with the hydraulic gradient. settlement of downside long wall, i.e. away from the
The main conveyance GI pipeline was connected with road. Hence gabions from outside were erected to
the distribution tank which is located in a drop of 36.48 avoid any outward movement of the down wall or
m with reference to the elevation of the source. subsidence of the structure when tank is full. In other
word, the placement of gabions on downside to retain
Distribution Tank
the wall of the tank was done like an arrangement of
A masonry tank of size (7.4 x 5.5 x 1.8 m) and a counterfort to the wall.

120 Annual Technical Volume

Figure 7 : Plan of PVC distribution pipeline in the command area

Distribution Pipeline of 10 lps in the designed set up of risers. Control valve

and locking device were also equipped with each riser
It was laid out from the distribution tank in the
for controlling the discharge and protecting riser from
command area with an objective to distribute the water
misuse by any other person. Keys of the locking device
to each farm of the farmers who were members of the
of all the riders were maintained by an operator
water users association. In order to minimize the cost
appointed by the water user association. Operator of
of the system, PVC pipes of 110 mm with pressure 8
the system maintains the roster of turn of the irrigation
kg/sq cm was laid out in the command area, instead of
to individual fields or follows the instruction of the
GI pipes. A plan of the distribution underground PVC
association. Risers at the end points of the branches of
pipeline is shown in Figure 7. A gate valve was fixed
the pipeline were fixed with pressure gauges to
on the pipeline near the DT to control the flow into the
identify any low pressure/choking or any other
distribution pipeline. A small segment (185m) of
problems by checking the pressure in the particular
distribution line was laid with GI pipeline (100 mm )
from DT to Diversion Box as there is crossing of the
road (Langha to Dehradun) at two places in this In the middle of the progress, farmers of one more
segment. For efficient management of irrigation, at the village – Devthala well comprehended the outcome of
end of 185 m of GI pipe segment, a diversion box with the project and they thus came forward to participate in
gate valves were set up to regulate and distribute the the project after a formal agreement with the Water
flow either side of the road which divides the command User Association which was competent to take such
area into two blocks, namely Pasauli-East and Pasauli- decisions. While, this village is separated from the
West. A network of underground PVC pipeline starting existing command area by a torrent (stream) named
from diversion box was laid out in the entire command Udmadi. An additional PVC pipeline, 400 m in length
area. The gravity head between DT and end point of the and 110 mm, was laid out from the last riser point in
distribution line in the Pasuali - west was registered Pasauli-west block to the Devthala block. GI pipe was
26.5 m and discharge recorded at that point was as laid to cross Udmadi torrent (12 m width) and the pipe
much as 12 lps. For irrigation to the farmers' fields, segment in the stream was placed between two gabion
risers (outlets) with complete assembly were fitted on barriers laid along the width of the stream. The banks
underground PVC pipeline using Female Treaded of the stream at both ends of the GI pipe lying in the
Adapter (FTA). One riser in each around 1.5 ha area torrent were stabilized by gabion protection walls and
was installed in order to maintain minimum discharge retards.

Annual Technical Volume 121

Command Area from head to the tail riser and in next season delivery
sequence gets reversed order to negate the clash among
Command area of the irrigation project is divided into
the farmers.
three blocks, viz; Pasauli-East, Pasauli- West and
Devthala (Figure 7). Pasauli-East block is spread over Gravity-fed in-line drip irrigation system was installed
an area of 5.5 ha with altitudinal variation ranging from at five farmers' fields having 1.5- 4 % land slope and
673 to 706.5 m amsl. The land slope varies from 7 to 12 covering total 1.6 acres with an objective to
% across the length and 3 % along the length, which demonstrate the system among the farmers. The main
clearly indicates multi directional land slope in the line of each unit of drip irrigation was coupled with
block with high variability. The length of block riser existing in the respective unit command areas,
extends from North to South along the road and and strainer type filters having capacity 25 m3 /hr was
breadth from East to West. The farm holding size also fitted to the main line near the riser. In order to
varies from 0.30 to 0.64 ha and 50 farm families are minimize the cost of the system, different sizes (50, 63
benefitted by the project. PVC pipeline (110 mm ) and 75mm φ) of submain were laid out in the field
with 6 risers was laid, which was 10 m east from the 4,600 m in-line laterals of 16 mm φ was laid out in the
road. The second block, Pasauli-West, is sprawled fields in order to irrigate vegetable crops-tomato,
over 16.28 ha area with an altitudinal variation from brinjal, cauliflower. Uniformity coefficient varied
684 to 707m asml. The farm size varies from 0.07 to from 74 to 82 %, depending on the land slope of the
2.0 ha and 59 farm families are benefitted by the field.
system. PVC pipeline (110 mm ) with 10 risers was
laid out in the block. This block is largest among all Participation of the Beneficiary Farmers
three blocks and has a relatively gentle land slope, i.e. 1 Participatory approach is more pertinent in the
-2% across the length and 4.3 % along the length. This planning and development of water resource
block follows the same pattern of length and breadth of development and management. This is so because it
earlier block. To obtain desired flow at each riser, the not only requires the resources to be developed or
PVC pipeline is laid in the middle of the block along managed properly, but equitably distributed among the
the length. The last block, Devthala, is spread over 4.5 stakeholders or beneficiaries. It also requires that along
ha area with an altitudinal variation from 673 to 692 m with the Private Property Resources (PPR), the
amsl. Variation in farm size is similar to Pasauli-west Common Property Resources (CPR) are developed,
block and 6 farm families are benefited by the system. managed and maintained efficiently.
PVC pipeline (110 mm ) with 3 risers was laid out in
the block. This block is separated from Pasauli-West For this, a number of meetings held in each beneficiary
by Udmadi river. Hence special arrangements were village to form a Water User Association (WUA).
made to install the pipeline for crossing the river. The Amongst the beneficiary farmers of villages, members
pipeline of this block is connected with last riser set up were identified by the villagers to facilitate the project
in Pasauli-West block. team for the participation in every step of the project
starting from planning to maintenance the system after
On-farm Water Management withdrawal of the project.
In all three blocks, one riser is provided at every 1.5 ha, Sustenance and Follow Up
this is termed as unit command area. A committee of
beneficiary farmers of each unit command area is In the traditional top down approach of management,
formed to decide turn to irrigate their fields. To the component of repair and maintenance of water
enhance the application efficiency of irrigation, the resource development works has been lacking while it
farmers of unit command area use collapsible synthetic should have a priority. An institutional arrangement
pipes. Even in the unit command area, water is preferably with active involvement of local
delivered to the individual field head by a collapsible communities should be formed and entrusted with this
synthetic pipe. With continuous motivation to the responsibility. Participatory resource management is a
farmers, adoption of the optimum size of border for good example in this endeavour. Water user
irrigation in wheat crop and strengthening of field Association of unit command area groups was
bunds for minimizing the seepage loss from the field generating the revenue, managing the resources and
bunds, particularly from downfield bund is looking after repair and maintenance of those
popularized in the command area. structures. For this purpose an operation was appointed
by the WUA for smooth operation of the system and
In order to avoid any conflict regarding the turn of collection of charges from the individual farmers on
irrigation to the farmers' fields; a mechanism is account of irrigation to their fields. The members of
evolved with common consensus. In this mechanism, project team do the necessary technical guidance
in one season, delivery of water follows the sequence whenever required.

122 Annual Technical Volume

Impact of the Irrigation System area. Productivity of major crops increased by 48%
with enhanced cropping intensity by 29% due to
Prior to the project, agriculture in adopted villages intervening crop of Toria in between Maize-Wheat
were predominantly rain dependent, except Godaria, sequence. Cultivation of Rabi wheat on fallow land
which had 98% land under limited irrigation. Project resulted increased additional net income of Rs. 17500/-
activities increased irrigated land in all the adopted ha. Availability of fodder increased by 350% resulted
villages with a total increase, 173.8%. The maximum in increased milk productivity by 97% due to
increase in irrigated land was 391.9% in village introduction of hybrid Napier grass on field bunds and
Pasauli followed by 22% in Dungakhet and least higher productivity of fodder sorghum and Berseem.
(0.8%) in Godaria. Gross irrigated area during PrP was This has also reduced dependency on forest for fodder
46.92 ha and reached to the level of 130.15 ha at EoP by 60%. Overall additional regular employment
indicating that gross irrigated area increased by 83.23 generated to the tune of 65 mandays per ha per annum.
ha though the net irrigated area was increased by 25.3
ha. Thus irrigability index (II) value was 3.29. The Himalayan hills have great potential to convert least an
high value of II revealed that developed water economic rainfed farming into the most profitable
resources are being utilized effectively. It is attributed irrigated farming system through participatory water
to new cropping sequence, maize – toria – wheat or resource development for the purpose of irrigation.
maize – vegetable- vegetable or oat – berseem – The study revealed that active involvement of
berseem or vegetable-vegetable at EoP in place of beneficiary farming community at all the stages of the
maize-wheat or Paddy-Wheat/follows cropping project life holds the key for sustainability of the
sequence followed in the irrigated land during PrP. system. Development of an efficient irrigation system,
Consequently a total crop production from the project i.e. technically as well as socially, is followed by many
area showed about 191% improvement over pre- other activities such as land leveling, bunding,
project (2008) production level. terracing in the area, coupled with niche farming with
intensive land use management system; ultimately
Productivity of major crops viz., Maize, Paddy, Wheat leads to sustainable livelihood security in the area.
and Toria were increased by 48%. Enhanced cropping However, the proactive strategies for conflict
intensity by 29% due to intervening crop of Toria in resolution among the beneficiaries as well as upstream
between Maize-Wheat sequence and cultivation of – downstream areas is equally essential.
Rabi wheat on fallow land resulted increased
additional net income of Rs. 17500/- ha. Crop References
diversification index improved from 0.84 (pre-project) 1. Cline, W.R. 2008. Global warming and agriculture
to 0.96 at the end of the project, helped to minimize the Impact Estimates by country Peterson Institute for
negative impact of climatic aberrations. International Economics, Washington.
Availability of fodder increased by 350% resulted in 2. Dhyani B.L., Bihari Bankey, Kumar Ambrish, Mandal
increased milk productivity by 97% due to Debashis, Singh Charan and Muruganandan M. 2015.
introduction of hybrid Napier grass on field bunds and Published a book entitled Natural Resource
higher productivity of fodder sorghum and Berseem. management for livelihood security: project planning,
This has reduced dependency on forest for fodder by monitoring and impact analysis; published by ICAR-
IISWC(formerly CSWCRTI), Dehradun(Uttarakhand)
60% besides reducing time spent on collection of India; ISBN, p.175.
fodder to the extent of 23,457 woman days per annum.
Overall additional regular employment generated to 3. ICIMOD, 2007. Melting Himalayas: Regional
the tune of 65 mandays per ha per annum. challenges and local impacts of climate change on
Mountain Ecosystems and Livelihood, Technical paper.
Induced Eco-development Index (IEI) of the irrigated 11-24 p.
command area was found 0.316 showing 31.6% area 4. Kumar Ambrish, Dhyani B.L., Bihari Bankey, Mandal
of cultivated land is under some form of permanent Debashis, Singh Charan and Muruganandan M. 2015.
vegetation. Sodling of napier grass on the field Participatory Sustainable Water Resource Management
boundaries and terrace shoulder bounds and their for Irrigation in Himalayan Foot Hills published in
survival (92%) in around 93% agricultural area, proceedings of All India Seminar on “Advances in
particularly Pasauli and Devthala, clearly showed the Engineering and Technology for Sustainable
impact of creating the irrigation facility. Beneficiary D e v e l o p m e n t o rg a n i z e d b y I n s t i t u t i o n o f
farmers contributed 15 % of the total cost of the Engineers(India) at GBPUAT, Pantnagar, during 12-13
component, i.e. Rs 25,91,932.00. June 2015: p. 28-36.
5. w w w. g o o g l e . c o . i n / w e b h p ? s o u r c e i d = c h r o m e -
Conclusion instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=pmksy.
The conveyance efficiency was recorded > 95 % with 6. h t t p : / / w w w. a g r i c o o p . n i c . i n / i m a g e d e f a u l t /
designing discharge at remotest riser in the command draftpmsky.pdf

Annual Technical Volume 123

Micro Irrigation in Uttarakhand: Status, Scope
and Design Considerations
P. K. Singh
Professor, Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Engineering, College of Technology
Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand

Introduction demands on limited water resources and the need to

minimize adverse environmental consequences of
Agriculture is the largest private enterprise in India
irrigation, micro irrigation technology will
which provides the understanding for our food and
undoubtedly play an even more important role in the
livelihood security and supports for the economic
future. It provides many unique agronomic, water
growth and social transformation. Sustainable
and energy conservation benefits that address many
development and efficient management of water is an of the challenges facing irrigated agriculture, now
increasing complex challenge in India, particularly in and in the future.
hills of Uttarakhand and other North Western
Himalayan States. Increasing population, growing Micro Irrigation: Government of India (GOI)
urbanization and rapid industrialization combined Initiatives
with the need for raising agricultural production Out of about 141 Mha of net area sown in the country,
generates competing claims for water. In India, though about 65 million hectare (or 45%) is presently
the area under irrigation has increased significantly covered under irrigation. Substantial dependency on
since independence, the share of irrigated area to gross rainfall makes cultivation in unirrigated areas a high
cropped area in Indian agriculture is only about 40 % as risk, less productive profession. Empirical evidences
of today. One of the main reasons for the limited suggest that assured or protective irrigation
expansion of irrigation is the predominant use of encourages farmers to invest more in farming
conventional / flood method of irrigation. The technology and inputs leading to productivity
efficiency of water use under flood method of enhancement and increased farm income. The
irrigation is extremely low mainly due to huge losses overreaching vision of Pradhan Mantri Krishi
through the evaporation and seepage in conveyance Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) will ensure access to
network along with application and distribution losses some means of protective irrigation to all agricultural
in the field. Considering the fast decline of available farms in the country, to produce 'per drop more crop',
water potential and growing needs for irrigation water, thus bringing much desired rural prosperity.
various measures have been introduced to increase the
efficiency of water use under surface method of Micro irrigation (MI) supplies water directly at the
irrigation. However, these measures could not bring root zone of the crops through a network of pipes and
any substantial improvement in the existing water use therefore, it substantially reduces the evaporation and
efficiency. Pressurized method (sprinkler and drip) of distribution losses of water. Apart from water saving,
irrigation introduced somewhat recently in Indian drip method of irrigation also significantly increases
agriculture proved to be an effective method in productivity of crops and that too with reduced cost
increasing the efficiency of water use. of cultivation. Though drip and sprinkler irrigation
are classified under micro-irrigation, the trends in the
Micro irrigation (sprinkler, drip and micro sprinkler adoption of these new methods of irrigation are not
etc.) offer possibilities of achieving higher efficiencies the same across crops and regions. While the
of water use through controlled water application. In adoption of drip is largely found in states like
micro irrigation methods water is applied more Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil
frequently which in turn reduces the moisture stress to Nadu, sprinkler is largely adopted in states like
the plants and thus enhances the crop growth. In micro Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (INCID,
irrigation, water is applied at a very low rate, almost 1994; 1998 and GOI, 2004). Drip method of
matching the evapotranspiration requirement, irrigation was introduced in India during the early
resulting into significant water saving. The use of seventies at the Agricultural Universities and other
micro irrigation is rapidly increasing around the world, Research Institutions. More than 3.2 Mha area was
and it is a viable irrigation method for agricultural covered under micro irrigation by 2013 (Iyengar and
production in the foreseeable future. With increasing Lall, 2013). The areas covered and details of

124 Annual Technical Volume

assistance under the centrally sponsored schemes in (including artesian wells) are main source of
different years are summarized in Table 1, Table 2 and irrigation. However, small canals (guls), lift canals,
Table 3. hydrums, springs, small natural nalas and water
harvesting structures are the source of irrigation in
Micro Irrigation in Uttarakhand
hilly areas. Total area under irrigation is about 11 % of
The state of Uttarakhand can be divided into the plain cultivated area.
and the hill districts. Uttarakhand is located between
Through centrally sponsored schemes such as
latitudes 29o5' -31o25'N and longitudes 77o45' – 81oE
horticulture technology mission, HMNEH, and
covering a geographical area of 53,483 km2.
National Mission on Micro Irrigation more than 1000
Uttarakhand is predominantly a mountainous state,
ha area under drip irrigation and about 500 ha area
situated in the Central Zone of the Himalayas between
under sprinkler irrigation were covered mainly for the
the state of Himachal Pradesh to the west and the
horticultural crops up to 2010. During 2011-14 total
country of Nepal to the east. The total area is 53,119 sq.
4320 farmers covering with 2185 ha were benefitted
km., which accounts for about 1.6 % of the total area of
with drip and sprinkler irrigation systems. During
the country. Excluding the forest, degraded and usar
2014-15, a target was fixed to bring 2620 ha area under
land, total area under agricultural cultivation is only
micro irrigation in Uttrakhand (Negi, et al.2014.)
12.50 lakhs ha in the state. Based on the agriculture,
Uttrakhand can be divided into Plain and Hilly area. In Micro Irrigation for Hill Ecosystem
plain districts of the state, canals and tube wells
Hill constitutes one of the most complex agro-
ecological systems. There is tremendous variation in
Table 1 Area covered (ha) under Micro Irrigation in the states physiographical conditions of land, shape of land
(Patle, 2015)

Table 2 Funding pattern under PMKSY- MI

DPAP – Drought Prone Area Programme; DDP – Desert Development Programme; NEH – North Eastern &
Himalayan states
Table 3 Cost of MI Technologies under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana

Annual Technical Volume 125

(Trapezoidal or rectangular), and availability of water provides superior criteria for designing efficient and
source (at top or bottom of the terrace) for growing economic drip irrigation system for closely spaced
agricultural and horticultural crops. The land occurs field crops.
with varying degree (5 to more than 75 %) of slopes,
Criteria and design of drip irrigation system broadly
depth of soil and level of fertility. To have irrigated
involves the collection of general information,
agricultural for vegetable, medicinal and aromatic
determination of appropriate lay-out of drip system,
plants, important cash crops and newly established
estimation of irrigation water requirement, capacity of
plantation crops and also to improve productivity of
drip irrigation system, number of drippers, laterals and
existing old orchards, it would be necessary to develop
sub mains, different accessories, capacity of drippers,
irrigation water resources and properly application of
diameter of main, sub main and lateral pipes and size of
irrigation water. The development of irrigation water
pumping unit besides the cost of designed drip system.
resources in the hills is possible through:
The design of micro irrigation main/sub-main should
l of rainwater and runoff, water be based on the balance between allowable variation in
flow in streams, nalas and springs of different head, friction head loss and the elevation difference in
dimensions, and sub-main. In the design of sub-main for
sloppy/terraced land, the head loss due to bends in sub-
l of natural existing springs in hills several
main should also be considered. In the steep sloppy
low discharges natural springs exists.
lands the difference in elevation between the inlet and
The natural spring constitutes promising water end points of sub-main is sufficiently high and hence
resources. The discharge of these springs varies with the pressure compensating emitters can be used under
the season. These natural springs have good potential this condition to control the head due to higher
of water for domestic and irrigation purposes. elevation differences. The design of main/sub-main
for the slopping and terraced land having water source
To increase the irrigation potential in hills, it is utmost
at the top or bottom of hill were also considered in the
necessary that existing water resources in the uplands
design. Various steps of designing of drip irrigation
such as springs, streams, and surface/subsurface
system are given in the following heads:
runoff should be exploited (Shukla et al. 2005). By
storing water in tanks, the low discharge Objectives of Designing Micro Irrigation System
springs/streams can be used to provide assured
There are some prime objectives to be borne in mind
irrigation round the year. While, the surface runoff
while designing micro irrigation system are :
stored in the water harvesting tank can be used for
supplemental irrigation during summer. Micro To maintain
l higher system and irrigation
irrigation technique would have special advantage in efficiency by means of higher emission
the sense that the available gravity head can be used uniformity.
without requiring an additional pumping unit and
To maintain
l optimum moisture level in soil for
optimization of crop yield.
Design of Micro Irrigation System for Hilly
To keep
l both initial investment and annual cost
Terraced / Sloppy Land
at minimum level.
Design of drip irrigation system depends on several
To design
l a suitable type of system which will
parameters including topography, soil type, crop to be
last and perform well?
irrigated, weather conditions, technology and financial
resources. Different criteria are available for designing To design
l a manageable system which can be
the drip irrigation system for widely spaced row crops easily operated and maintained?
such as orchard and vegetables for supplying water to
To satisfy
l and fulfill the water and fertilizer
the individual plants with the help of a single or a set of
application requirements of crops and farmers or
drippers based on the rooting pattern and canopy area
of the plants. In this situation there is no need to apply
water to the entire land area and the laterals are Design inputs
generally placed along the plant rows. For closely
As we are aiming at a precise quantity and uniform
spaced field crops the entire land area needs to be
application of water for each and every plant,
wetted and the drip system needs to be designed on the
collection of data as detailed below is a prerequisite for
basis of meeting the water requirement of the total
designing an efficient micro irrigation system.
cultivated area. Relationship between dripper
discharge, operation time, horizontal and vertical Topographical
l data : Measurement of field,
movement of soil moisture under drip irrigation ground slope and contours.

126 Annual Technical Volume

l source : Assessment of water source and The number and spacing of emitters along the lateral
availability of water. line shall be adequate to provide water distribution to
the plant root zone and % plant wetted area (Pw). The
l details : Crop, spacing, type,
design discharge rate of applicators shall be
variety, age, water requirement and crop
determined from manufacturer's data for the expected
operating range. The discharge rate shall not create
Climatologically data
l : Temperature, humidity, runoff within the immediate application area. For
rainfall, evaporation etc. bubbler irrigation, a basin beneath the plant canopy is
required for water control, with applications confined
Soil and
l water analysis: Collection of soil and
to the basin area. There are numerous varieties of
water samples and analysing.
drippers / emitting tubes available, having different
General Criteria Applicable to all Purposes discharge rates, features, functions, characteristics and
suitability to different crops. The selection of emitting
Planned work shall comply with all central, state, and
devices are based on peak water requirement of crop,
local laws and regulations. The system shall be
age and root zone, soil type, topography, soil water
designed to uniformly apply water and/or chemicals
holding capacity and infiltration rate, hydraulic
directly to the plant root zone to maintain soil moisture
conductivity, life expectancy and cost economy.
within the range for good plant growth without
excessive water loss, erosion, reduction in water Main and Sub-main Lines
quality, or salt accumulation.
Main and sub-main lines shall be designed to supply
Irrigation Water Requirement water to all manifold and lateral lines at a flow rate and
pressure not less than the minimum design
Micro irrigation is a precise method of water
requirements of each subunit. Adequate pressure shall
application, used mainly for orchard, plantation and
be provided to over some all friction losses in the
fruit crops where only part of the soil surface is
pipelines and appurtenances (valves, filters, etc.). Pipe
occupied by the crop. The canopy of young and widely
sizes for mains and sub mains shall maintain flow
spaced crops intercepts only a part of incoming
velocities and emission uniformity (EU) within
radiation. When an unshaded portion of soil surface is
recommended limits. Economic considerations shall
wetted by surface or sprinkler irrigation, a portion of
include both installation and operating costs. Main and
potential benefits of water applied is lost through
sub main lines shall be designed and installed
evaporation from soil and transpiration from weeds.
according to economical pipeline selection.
Therefore, the figures of crop water requirement
determined by the conventional methods include the Design and Selection of Mainline
non-beneficial evaporation or transpiration;
Mainline is a conduit which carries water from source
consequently a reduction factor is applied to ETcrop
to sub main. The size of main line is determined by
calculations. Vermeiren and Jobling, (1984) reported
considering the quantity of water flowing through it,
that a factor (kr) may be used for the further
length and path of main line, elevation of ground,
determination of crop water requirement under drip
velocity, safety parameters, cost economy and
irrigation as suggested by Decoroix, CTGREE in order
monograms provided by the manufacturer. While
to account the reduction in evapotranspiration, which
designing the main line , following points should be
gives reasonable results, is given as:
kept in mind:
The water requirement (WRdrip) under drip irrigation
Permissible velocity
l : Should not exceed 1.5
WRdrip = ETo kc kr (1)
l losses: Should be limited to 5 to 20
Where, kc the crop coefficient dependent on the m/1,000 m length of pipe.
growth stage of the crop. The reduction factor kr is
l size: Should be such that, low initial
given as:
investment, low annual cost and low power
kr = (0.10 + GC) or 1, whichever is the smaller (2) cost.
where, GC is the ground cover as the fraction of total Elevation
l and class of pipe: minimize use of
surface area actually covered by the foliage of the plant higher pressure rating (Class) of pipes at the
when viewed from the directly above. The value of elevated ground. Run the main line as Straight
0.10 includes the oasis effect, which is important, if the as possible in the shortest and at the same
coverage is small. elevation.
Emitting devices – selection and layout Control
l measures : Provide air release – cum

Annual Technical Volume 127

vacuum – breaker valves, non return / check Where, Q = Capacity of drip system, lps; h =
valves, pressure relief valves, pressure Frictional loss in lateral pipe, m; Fd = Correction factor
regulating and sustaining valves at appropriated for multiple outlet; d = Diameter of lateral pipe, mm;
Size of Pumping Unit
Design and Selection of Sub-mains
Size of the pumping unit is estimated based on the
Sub main is a conduit (PVC/HDPE) which carries system capacity and the total head including friction
water from main line and distributes among the losses, elevation head, suction head and efficiencies
laterals. The size, length and frictional head losses of etc as follows :
sub main have to be determined by monograms or
charts and design guidelines provided by the hp = (Q × H) / 75 × ηp × ηm ) (4)
manufacturer or by using Hazen William equation and Where, hp = Motor horse power, hp ; H = Total head
limiting the frictional head losses within the limit of loss, m; H = He + Hsm + Hm + Hs + He + Ho + Hf + Ha
design tolerance of the particular emitting devices as ;HL = Head loss in laterals, m = (head loss in one lateral
specified by the manufacturer. In hilly terraced land it × number of laterals); Hsm = Head loss in sub main, m
is difficult to put main/sub main line below soil surface. = (head loss in one sub-main × number of sub main);
Therefore, in such area, it is recommended to the Hm = head loss in main, m; Hs = suction head, m; He =
HDPE pipe of desired size and becoming pressure as elevation head, m; Ho = operating pressure head, m; Hf
main/sub main line. = head loss in filters (2 m/filter), m ; Ha = head loss in
Design of Laterals other fittings and accessories, m; ηp = Pump efficiency
(in fraction); ηm = Motor efficiency (in fraction).
Laterals are conduits which carry water from sub main
and feed to the emitters and are available in different In hilly terraced land system, if water source is at the
sizes- 12 mm, 16mm, 20mm etc. Emitting devices/ top of the field, gravity head can be utilized for creating
drippers can be fitted at determined spacing as per the water pressure in the main/sub main line for the
requirements of crops. In case of inline drip tubing , operation of emitters. In such situation pumping unit is
dripper intervals and discharge have to be determined not required.
before designing of system. As the laterals are Theoretical Design for Micro Irrigation Main /
significant with regard to pressure variation, proper Sub-main (Manifold) for Hilly Terraced Land
evaluation of frictional head losses in the laterals is
essential to achieve higher uniformity. Pressure The head loss due to friction in smooth pipes can be
variation from 5 to 20% and discharge variation 5 to estimated by most commonly used Hazen-Williams
10% throughout the system should be maintained in a equation (5) and the head loss due to pipe fittings can
range . The size , allowable length and frictional losses be computed by equation (6)
of laterals have to be determined by monograms or
charts and design guidelines provided by the (Q / C )1.852 L (5)
hf = K ×
manufacturer for their emitting devices. D 4.872 100
The lateral pipe is selected such that the head loss in it is
limited within 10 % of the operating pressure available Q2 (6)
h fb = K b K r
at the head of the lateral. Expected head losses in D4
different diameter pipes are estimated and that smallest
diameter pipe is selected in which the head losses are Where, Q = flow rate in pipe (L/s); C = friction
within 10 % of the operating pressure. The lateral pipes coefficient; D = inside diameter of pipe (mm);L =
having 10, 12, 16 and 20 mm internal diameter with length of pipe (m); K, Kb = constants (K = 1.22 × 1012,
wall thickness varying from 1 to 3 mm are used in drip Kb = 8.26 × 104 for metric unit); Kr = resistance
irrigation system. First a smaller diameter lateral pipe coefficient for the fittings; hf = head loss due to pipe
should be selected to reduce the total cost of system and friction (m) and hb = head loss due to pipe fittings.
the friction losses are estimated by using Equation (3) Considering a sloppy terraced land in which S is the
and then elevation head is added to this. If the variation ground slope and hr and Wt are the riser height and
in total friction losses are found within 10 % of the terrace width of bench terraces made on that slope
operating pressure then selected diameter is accepted. respectively as shown in Figure 1. It is considered that
Otherwise successively larger diameter lateral pipes Lt1, Lt2, ….and, Ltn are the length of first, second, …..,
are tested to meet the said condition. and, nth terrace respectively.
h = [789000 × (Q/Nl )1.75 × l × Fd ] / d 4.75 (3) Thus, the number of plants in ith terrace is Ni= Lti/Sp

128 Annual Technical Volume

Figure 1 : Different types of subunit prevails in hilly terraced land

and the flow rate of ith lateral is Putting the values the head loss up to first terrace can
be given as :
qr = Ni × Np × qa (7)
K b K r Q12 (Q1 / C )1.852 L1 (9)
h1 = 2 + K ×
Where, Np – number of drippers per plant ; qa – D4 D 4.87 100
average dripper discharge (lph) and ql – flow rate of th
lateral on ith terrace (lph) n Terrace

The system capacity or sub-main flow rate can be Discharge after (n – 1) th terrace Qn = Qm – (q1 + q2 +
calculated as ……+qn-1 )

Qm = q1 + q2 + ….. + qI + …… + qn (8) Length of sub-main in between (n – 1) th and nth

terrace, Ln = hr + Wt .
The flow rate in the sub-main on ith terrace will be less
than the flow rate on (i-1)th terrace. Thus, if the flow Number of bends in nth terrace = 2.
rates of the submain on the first, second, ……,and nth
terrace are Q1 , Q2 , ….., and Qn respectively. Then the The total head loss in nth terrace can be given as:
head loss due to friction and bends of pipe can be
calculated using equation (5) and (6) respectively. K b K r Q12 (Q1 / C )1.852 Ln
hn = 2 + K × (10)
First Terrace D4 D 4.87 100
Total head loss due to friction and pipe bends (from
From Figure 1 it is clear that the sub-main flow rate in first terrace to nth terrace) can be obtained by adding
the first terrace Q1 = Qm and the length of sub-main pri the head loss in individual terraces. Thus, adding the
tp first lateral L1 and number of bends up to first terrace above equation we have
is equal to 2. Thus, head loss upto first terrace, h1 =
head loss due to bend + head loss due to pipe friction.


Annual Technical Volume 129

On rearranging Design Charts for Hilly Terraced Land
The design charts for the design of main/ sub-main
(manifolds) for the ground slopes up to 100 % was
developed. The design of for the ground slopes for in
Assuming the uniform lateral spacing, Ls equal to (hr + between 50 and 75 % slopes are presented here for 10
Wt), and 5 numbers of terraces. These three slopes cover
almost all the hilly horticulture lands in India. The 25
L1 = L2 = L3 = …….= Li = …..= Ln = Ls = (hr + Wt) % slope was not considered in the development of
design chart because in India, people commonly adapt
Kb K r n
K K .Ls n the vegetable or cereals farming even up to 35 % slopes
h fb = 2
i =1
D 4.87
100.C1.852 .D 4.87
i =1
i (13) and generally do not take horticultural crops in such
low sloped lands.
s K .L
Let K1 = 2.Kb.Kr; and K 2 = 1.852
then equation Conclusions
14 may be written as: 100 .C
Gravity fed micro irrigation system (GMIS) may be
n n designed as per stated design procedure for hilly
K1 K2
h fb =
i =1
D 4.87
i =1
i (14) terraced /sloppy land system of Himalayan Eco system
as well as other part of India/world. Field micro
irrigation engineer can use the developed design charts
Equation 14 is the general equation for the calculation for the design of micro irrigation system in hilly
of head loss due to friction and pipe bends. Using this terraced land under prevailing slope, water source and
equation, the head loss from the first terrace to any soil conditions A simple poly tank /container can be
number of terraces (in between first and last terrace) connected with a small discharge spring and
can be calculated. This equation can also be used for positioned few meters (terraced) above the field to be
the calculation of total head loss when the water source irrigated. By opening a valve, the water flows by
is at the top or bottom of any shape of terraced or non- gravitation into the MIS. The fertilizer may be
added to the water, as in the conventional drip
system. The cost of installation of GMIS is
significantly lower than MIS with pumping
unit. Low cost drip irrigation system is about
Rs. 10,000 per system which can irrigate up to
800 square meter area and useful for the small
and marginal farmers, hilly terraced land and
kitchen garden irrigation. It does not require
additional source of energy for operation of
the MIS. Therefore, operation cost of the
system is minimized.
1. Patle, N. 2015. Present Status of Protected
Cultivation and Micro Irrigation in India.
Department of Agriculture, Cooperation
and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of
Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Govt. of
India, New Delhi. (Petrsonal
Figure 2 : Manifold design charts for 50,75 and 100% Communication).
sloppy terraced land
2. Shukla, K.N.,Singh P.K. Singh, K.K. and Pandey, P.K.
terraced land. When water is available at the top of the (2005).Water requirement and methods of irrigation
terrace land, the design is under gravity head or zero for hill horticulture. In : Souvenir of National
energy condition for the micro irrigation system. After Conference on Microirrigation, June3-5, 2005,
Pantnagar, pp.64-70.
designing the main / sub-main, lateral lines are
designed on the basis of 10% permissible head loss. 3. Vermeiren, I., Jobling., G.A. 1980. Localized
The emitters are selected as per the soil and crop to be irrigation: design, installation, operation, evaluation
irrigated using general design procedure of micro FAO Irrigation and Drainage paper no. 36
irrigation system. FAO.Rome, pp 203.

130 Annual Technical Volume

Irrigation Systems in Uttrakhand : A Case Study
Tarun Raina
Senior Engineer (Projects), Government of Uttarakhand

Background IWMI-Tata Policy Program (ITP) has come out with

an innovative idea of introducing water saving mode of
Among myriad agro-ecological constraints faced by
water application to the crops that are remunerative
the small and marginal farmers of hilly regions of
Uttarakhand, the availability of water in non-monsoon and adaptable to agro-ecology of the area. ITP has not
period for crop production is a prime one. Even though tried to create either massive irrigation infrastructure
the state has given rise to many important rivers from or undertake large scale measures soil water
the greater Himalayan ranges and the forest cover is conservation in hill regions (steep slopes and mid to
around 60 % of the total geographical area, the lower mid-altitudes) which are long term to establish
irrigation scenario is grim. The typical hilly terrains, and require big investment and larger involvement of
steep slopes, high altitudes, low soil depth and ever stakeholders/ various development agencies. ITP has
decreasing vegetative cover on hills owing to just attempted to utilize the drinking water supply
anthropogenic interferences (felling of trees, mining, source which is almost perennial in nature though with
land clearing for infrastructures) as well as natural varying flow rate that majority of households residing
phenomena (high intensity rainfall, land slides, soil in hill regions do possess for a very low application
slips, spatial and temporal variability in rainfall) have rate micro-irrigation systems.
further worsened the situation for the small and highly With the core objective of demonstrating the
fragmented farm-holders. Baring a few minor comparative advantage of improved micro-irrigation
irrigation systems mostly through traditional Gul1 and methods over traditional irrigation practices for the hill
masonry channels benefitting mostly the farm-holders slope small farm-holders and to bring more area under
at valleys, the majority of farmers in the state subsist on short duration marketable crops (vegetables) the
rain-fed agriculture. The supplementary irrigation in IWMI-Tata Policy Program (ITP) has put forward the
hill slopes which is highly erratic and non-dependable idea of undertaking an action research project on
comes mostly through small diameter (0.5 to 1 inch micro- irrigation aspects by installing a few MISs on a
size) long distance laid GI pipes diverting water from pilot basis in small farm holders plots on different
springs, perennial and semi-perennial streams. This
slopes, altitudes and crops combination so as to
water is primarily used for drinking and other domestic
evaluate the systems on the basis of water use
purposes as a priority over supplementary irrigation at
efficiency, BCR, crop yield and net farm return and
the time of acute water shortage. This water supply is
farmers feedback. This action research has also
highly regulated and charged by the state control
envisaged analyzing the entire value chain of micro-
department for each household. The excess water if the
case be is sprinkled over the plants from these GI pipe irrigation delivery systems in the state.
lines through flexible plastic pipes. With this practice Objectives of MI Action Research
not only the precious and scarce water is misutilised
but also crop productivity does not enhance To identify locations suitable for micro irrigation

proportionately. Further there arises a water conflict systems in high slopes and altitudes.
between the users of this single source of water. This To study
l the feasibility of different types of drip
warrants a situation where water use efficiency need to and sprinkler in slopes and altitudes.
be enhanced by employing suitable micro-irrigation
systems that are gravity fed, low cost and simple in To prepare
l the water budget both at watershed
design, operation and maintenance so as to encourage and farm level.
the small farm-holders of the state to adopt widely. To work
l out Water Use Efficiency, Benefit Cost
Under this backdrop that farming community faces the Ratio and Yield rates and Net Return potential
arduous task of choosing between drinking water for farmers for different MI systems installed in
(including water required for other household varied slope/ altitude/ crop mix.
purposes) and providing life saving irrigations at the To study
l the economics and feasibility of up-
critical crop growth stages in non-monsoon seasons, scaling them in other locations.

Annual Technical Volume 131

To analyze
l the entire value chain of Micro- and the individual sub-plots within that are also
irrigation systems delivery mechanism in non-uniform table-top terraces.
Height between two successive layers of terraces
Methodology of the MI Action Research ranges from 1-2 mt. This particular situation
Participatory mode of farmers site selection, crop
gives an opportunity for the systems to utilize the
choices, crop rotation, MI systems customized as static head of 2 to 10 meter from the water tank.
per farmers convenience. The systems
l have been economically designed
Local NGOs
ü contracted to facilitate the entire with the help two major MI companies of India.
process of grounding the project starting from The crops
l selected for both winter and summer
selection of farmers/ sites, subsequent follow up seasons are mostly potential vegetables, spices
till periodic monitoring and reporting; thus local & condiments based on agro-climatic situations
NGOs capacity building is ensured. of the areas and farmers perception.
No extra
ü thrust on farmers to use chemical Working Modality
fertilizers and external inputs. Only low cost/ no
cost cultural practices advocated such as line After installation of the MI systems at individual
sowing, raised bed & furrows, optimum water farmers plots and testing; farmers and NGO
application, season/ area specific vegetable personnel have been given on-site training on
crops. repair & maintenance aspects of MIS by the
Not too
ü much technical and rigid protocol
adopted for the research with an aim to test the Preparation
ü of beds/ furrows and procedure for
technologies under most practical set up and line sowing, fertigation etc. has also been
ground reality so as to ensure easy replicability. demonstrated on the sites.
Key Features of the MI Action Research & Criteria A stringent
ü monitoring framework to take stock
for Selection of Sites, Farmers & Crops of the on-farm as well as off farm activities/
ITP with
l help of local NGOs have identified 13 interventions has been worked out for the MI
s i t e s a c r o s s Te h r i G a r h w a l d i s t r i c t sites. The facilitating NGOs have allocated staffs
(predominantly hilly), Uttarakhand on the hill for the monitoring of the sites.
slopes (from 900m to 1800m above mean sea The periodic
ü reporting of the key interventions
level) where rainfed agriculture is practiced. required to arrive at evaluation parameters has
The farmers
l selected are all small farm-holders been ensured through a full-fledged carefully
currently undertaking subsistence farming using designed monitoring sheet. The frequency of
no chemical fertilizers, good variety seeds and reporting has been fixed every fortnight.
low or no irrigation applications. Concerned
ü farmers and NGO personnel have
One more
l criteria of selection of sites was the been provided with a chart comprising of
availability of water source at the farmer's house Irrigation schedule (MI system & Crop wise) and
(usually for drinking water purpose conveyed fertigation schedule so as to serve as a guideline
through 0.5-1 inch diameter GI pipe). to undertake optimum irrigation application and
l water source it was not possible to fertigation for the crops.
introduce micro-irrigation systems and creating Control
ü plots (crop and cultural including
a new water source at the farmer's plot level was irrigation practices taken up as done earlier) have
beyond the scope of the project. been fixed to have a comparative scenario.
ITP after
l extensive field survey with help MI Periodic
ü visits by the ITP Engineer and other
agencies has designed customized gravity based staffs to sites and hand holding support provided
MI systems (drip- both pressure compensating by the MI agency has ensured timely supervision
and non-pressure compensating in-line dripper and course correction if required.
lines and micro sprinklers) on the 13 farm plots.
ü capacity building has been stressed upon
Areas of the plot range between 580 sq. mt.- 6 so that dissemination of technologies to other
naali to 1400 sq. mt.- 7 naali. areas through farmer-to-farmer extension is
l plots are irregular in shape as expected possible.

132 Annual Technical Volume

Duration of Project: September, 2009 till August, of the MI systems with the concerned NGOs/
2010 (Figure 1). participating farmers.
Project Outlay: Rs. 5, 00,000 only which includes the Himmotthan
ü the prime-mover of SRTT funded
cost MI installations in 13 sites, monitoring & development projects in the state has already
supervision costs; Seed costs, Miscellaneous started initiative and dialogue with both IWMI
(measurement equipment, etc.). and its contracted MI agency to install a few
similar MI systems in its project areas nearby
Impacts So Far Thatur.
Realizing the perceived benefits of these gravity
The germination
ü and initial crop establishment
based low cost micro irrigation systems that results have produced clear contrast between MI
reduce family labour and water application operated plots and rainfed crops with the same
considerably the neighborhood farmers have farmer's plots.
already started placing demands for installation

Figure 1 Gravity based Micro-irrigation system filtration & distribution assembly below water tank

The water preservation system is given in Figure 2 for system, Micro sprinkler system and Chapin tape
farmers, whereas the pressure compensating drip irrigation system have been depicted in Figure 3 to
Figure 5, respectively.

Annual Technical Volume 133

Figure 3 Pressure compensating in-line drip systems

Figure 4 Micro-sprinklers-crops sprouted

Figure 5 Chapin tape (in-line drip lines)

Figure 2 Water tank Placed on the roof of a farmers house

134 Annual Technical Volume

Rejuvenation of Hill Channels in Uttarakhand :
An Cost Effective Approach
Ram Kumar
Advisor (Engineering), State Planning Commission, Uttarakhand

Introduction Discharge in springs is Geological and Hydrological

phenomenon. Geological and Hydrological changes
Many of the important hill channels constructed prior
do not occur in a short span of time. Main reason of
to inception of Uttarakhand, are bereft of water. These
channels usually off-take from streams (Gadhera) short fall in discharge in spring streams may be
which are either snow fed or spring fed. attributed to the Avalanche or heavy rain fall coupled
with massive earth and boulder flow in the catchment
Diversion head is usually boulder weir (ghori bund) or area. The problem has been further aggravated due to
conventional raised weir. Channel section is normally massive construction activities going on in the area.
constructed in stone masonry with cement mortar.
Consequent to these reasons, streams are filled up with
The diversion head is disrupted during flash flood fluvial material at many places. Substantial flow of the
thereby disrupting the irrigation. The channels are in streams is concealed below the fluvial material and
dilapidated condition due to uncontrolled flow of thus surface flow is apparently reduced.
water from head, poor drainage in hill slope and high
velocity of silt laded water. The sub soil flow in the fluvial material can be taped by
providing cut of walls or by appropriate measures as
Possibilities of Depletion of Discharge in Snow Fed elucidated in ensuing paragraph.
Various factors responsible for adversely affecting the
The discharge of snow fed streams does not diminish efficacy of channels are recapitulated as below:
during lean period as the melting of snow increases
during summer. lShortage of surface flow in stream.
Possibilities of Depletion of Discharge in Spring lDisruption of diversion head during flash
Fed Streams flood.
This is being felt that discharge of these streams is lChoking of channels by uncontrolled entry of
depleting at alarming rate. To find out the reasons for silt and rolling stone in stream, thereby
depletion of discharge, Morphology of these streams reducing the discharge carrying capacity of
may be understood. channels.
Gravity springs result from water flowing under lHeavy seepage in channel due to high velocity
hydrostatic pressure; the following general types are and silt laded water causing abrasion, suction,
recognized: draw down, and impinging of rolling gravels.
l Springs- Formed where the ground lDamage of parapets of channels due to
surface intersects the water table. uncontrolled water during flash flood.
l Spring- Created by permeable water- lConstruction of several irrigation and drinking
bearing formation overlying a less permeable water schemes from the same source.
formation that intersects the ground surface. Remedial Measures
l Springs – Resulting from releases of Provide trench weir instead of boulder weir with deep
water under pressure from confined aquifers cut off walls to trap sub soil flow
either at an outcrop of the aquifer or through an
opening in the confining bed. This type of diversion structure is most suitable for
small hydro schemes and irrigation channels on hilly
l Rock Springs- Occurring in tubular strata due to its several advantages. This structure does
channels or fractures of impervious rock. not pose much disturbance to the waterway of the river
l or Fracture Springs- Issuing from during flood flows and it is safe from damage due to
rounded channels, such as lava tubes or solution rolling boulders during maximum flood flows. The
channels, or fractures in impermeable rock trench weir has also the capability to arrest minimum
connecting with ground water. flow effectively and efficiently.

Annual Technical Volume 135

The intake structure is located at the end of the trench 20- 25 % of the design discharge may be provided
weir sufficiently away from the midstream so that the in diversion structure to meet the flushing
regime of the river is not affected during normal high requirements at the intake and the de-silting tank.
flood conditions. Two openings are provided in the Suitable gate control for intake and flushing
intake structure, one opening for carrying the design sluices should be provided. The design of the
discharge to the water conductor through the de-silting flushing outlet requires careful consideration
tank and a second opening for carrying the silt taking into view the particular silt load in each
collected in the trench weir to a suitable location in the one.
stream downstream. The trench should preferably be
The trench weir is usually constructed below the bed of
below the bed level of the stream at the location of the
stream. So, there is no disruption in flow in canal due
structure and is generally trapezoidal in shape. A trash
to flash flood as observed is in boulder weir or raised
rack grill is provided on top of the trench opening
sloped in the flow direction so that stones and pebbles
do not settle but roll away with the stream flow. The Trapping of Subsoil Flow
trench is provided with a bed slope of about 1 in 12.5 in
the direction of flow the diverted water so that As aforesaid, there may be substantial subsoil flow in
sufficient velocity is generated to carry along heavy silt the stream due to fluvial material in the bed. The
that may find entry into the trench through the trash structure of trench weir is constructed below the bed
opening. The intake opening is designed as a duct to which acts as impediment to subsoil flow. Additional
carry 120% of design discharge to allow for the cut off walls of appropriate depth are construction in
additional requirement for flushing silt. Entry to these U/S of weir. Thus substantial sub-surface flow would
ducts is controlled by gates operated from the top of the be trapped and would be available for diverting into the
intake structures. The intake structure permits the channel.
release of water to the desired extent. The top of the Trench Weir has been constructed first time in
intake gate is to be kept above the maximum high flood irrigation department Uttarakhand in the year 2004 at
level of the stream at this location. The top of the intake Kota canal near village Kota Bagh, district Nainital.
gate is to be kept above the maximum high flood level The weir has been constructed in minimal cost, largely
of the stream at this location. The duct should be using locally available river bed material. Efficacy of
continued as a covered duct till a level is reached which the structure with minimal maintenance cost has been
is above normal HFL of the stream to prevent the flows established.
from the stream entering the water conductor. The
protection works in the river bed both upstream and Settling Basin
downstream of the weir could consist of boulder crates As per prevailing practice, stream water is diverted
1500mm × 1500mm ×1500 mm in size in wire- mesh into canal by constructing temporary boulder bund or
grouted over with 100 mm concrete M 20 on top. raised weir. There is no arrangement to check the entry
The bottom of the trench weir is designed as a slab of rolling stone and silt in stream. This material gets
fixed to the two side walls of the trench weir. The whole uninterrupted entry into the channel. It is deposited
structure is designed as a beam spanning between the into the channel as the bed slope of the channel is
two hill abutments of the stream. The intake structure is usually lesser than stream. Consequently, the
designed to resist the soil pressure acting on the side discharge carrying capacity of the channel is reduced.
walls when the intake well is empty. The structure is These undesirable materials may further travel to the
also checked for the conditions when the water agriculture fields. It is detrimental to the fertility of the
pressure acts on the. agriculture land.
Where the river bed is not rocky (As is usually the case) To safe guard against the entry of the undesirable
and ground structures are not safe unless costly material from stream to channel, settling basing/ de-
elaborate foundation arrangements are made, trench silting tank is provided near the head of channel.
type weirs have been found to be successful. The
waterway is adequate to pass the desired flood and the The de-silting tank is designed to exclude particles of
gate operation control is above the maximum flood size detrimental to canal and agriculture field. This is
level. achieved by reducing flow through velocity by about
0.22 m/s and settling velocity of about 2.75 cm/sec.
The trash rack are of opening is adequate to draw
the design discharge even if 50% of the effective Ferro Cement Lining
area of the trash rack is clogged. Several studies have been carried but in University of
l of the longitudinal slope to develop Roorkee, CBRI Roorkee, and in several worldwide
velocities capable of flushing out bed load forum for using Ferro Cement as an alternative to canal
entering the trench. Flushing discharge of about lining.

136 Annual Technical Volume

Presently, the parapets of channels constructed in stone minimum period of two lean seasons. Project framing
masonry are plastered in cement mortar. Alternately, may be based on proper Hydrological data.
the parapets are constructed in cement concrete of
Integration of Small Hydro Projects with Irrigation
about 15 N/mm2 strength.
Channels would make Channel Financially Viable
The service life of such structures is only one to two
Hilly channels have usually cascade of falls. Power
years, after which cracks and damages occur along the
house can be constructed economically as many
toes and side walls at many section of the lining. The
project components like diversion head, settling basin,
annual maintenance cost of this type of lining is
exorbitant. head race channel / Irrigation channel can be doubly
used for power generation and irrigation.
In order to prolong the service life of the lining and to
reduce the maintenance cost as much as possible, it is The clean power generations would reduce CO2
suggested that Ferro cement lining may be adopted. emission which may further fetch additional sum of
money through sale of Carbon Credits under Clean
The reinforcement consists of 6 mm dia. steel bars in Development Mechanism (CDM)
longitudinal and transverse directions and one layer of
gauge no 25 galvanized hexagonal wire mesh on back China, which has about 2 lakh SHP, has demonstrated
side of the skeleton steel. Ferro cement is made either to the world that SHPs contribute to the country
by manual plastering at site or prefabricated, using economy in a big way.
mould and vibrating table. In Garhwal, Luster canal near Tilwara District
Thickness of lining is usually 25 mm to 50 mm. and 28 Rudrapryag and many other canals are a suitable for
days compressive of 17.7 MPA. providing power house on its falls. In Kumaun region
SHP can be constructed on Chorgalia canal on
Ferro cement lining has been successfully used in Nandhaor river near Kathgodam. Similar projects can
drains at Balia Nala at Nainital and irrigation guls in be identified on other canals.
Irrigation Division, Kashipur.
Power house may be any of the following two
Escape categories:
Provide escape for surplus water of adequate capacity 1-Power house located in the main canal.
near the head of the channel to escape surplus water.
2-Power house located adjacent to the main canal in
Land slide and Subsidence separate by pass canal.
Many channels are located in land slide/ subsidence To begin with, pilot project can be taken up one each in
prone area. Gullies of the identified land slide zone Garhwal and Kumaun.
may be properly channelized. Channels may be
covered in the sensitive zone and breast walls and toe Case Study of Development of Hydro Project on
walls may be constructed as per site requirement. Luster Canal
Provide Roster in Canals Luster canal is located near village Tilwara on Luster
guard in district Rudparyag. Discharge capacity at
In many cases, several canals and drinking water head of canal 48.55 cusec (1.37 cumec)
schemes off take from the same source. It results
shortage of water during peak hours. Requirement of Assuming available discharge in half of the year
drinking water takes precedence over other water 10 cumec
requirements. Roster may be provided for such Head different in first 5 km
irrigation channels. 495.96 – 479.46 16.5 m
Storage Tank Power potential
Usually irrigation activities are done during day time.
9.8 × 0.85 × 0.9 × 10 × 16.5 1.23 MW
During night, water of the stream is wasted. The water
during night time may be collected in storage tank near 1000
the head of channel. Provide two units of 600 K.W. each. Similar schemes
Proper Discharge Data Collection can be replicated with mutadis-mutandis in entire
length of this canal and other canals.
CBI&P publication no 175 recommends that the
discharge measurements should preferably cover a One M.W of power potential would provide net
benefits of about Rs. 45 lac

Annual Technical Volume 137

Effective Modification in the Traditional Tapping and
Irrigation Techniques for Agricultural Sustainability in
Himalayan Region in the Present Water Scarce
A. K. Vashisht
Department of Soil and Water Engineering, College of Agricultural Engineering and Post-Harvest Technology
Central Agricultural University, Ranipool, Sikkim
H. C. Sharma
Dean, College of Technology, Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology
Pantnagar, Uttarakhand
R. S. Negi
Department of Rural Technology, HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar (Garhwal), Uttarakhand

Agriculture cannot be left on the fate of rainfall, since decrease in near future (IPCC, 2007). For fulfilling the
majority of the population residing in the Himalayan continuously increasing demand for food and fiber by
region is involved in this occupation directly or ever-increasing population, agricultural production
indirectly. Thus, the availability of water resources cannot be left on the fate of rainfall. It has been
throughout the year (especially in the recession period) estimated that India's ultimate irrigation potential
is the basic requirement for sustaining the agricultural without inter-basin sharing of water is 139 million-
production in the region. However, from the last few hectare (Mha) (ICID, 2008). In 1951, the total
decades the climatic variability has drastically reduced irrigation potential of the country was 22.6 Mha (Pre-
the flow through natural springs and streams. The Plan) which has increased to 93.95 Mha till the end of
water tapping and irrigation practices which were IX five-year plan (i.e. 1997-2002). India receives an
based on the high-flow conditions of these water annual precipitation (including snow) of about 4000
resources have gone out of service. To cope with this billion cubic meters (BCM), but its distribution is
changed scenario, in what way the farmers have extremely uneven both spatially and temporally.
adapted the suitable modifications in the existing water Currently, agriculture accounts for more than 80% of
tapping and application techniques are presented in water withdrawals in the country. It has been projected
this chapter. Also, wherever practicable, proven by Central Water Commission (CWC) that the
technologies based adaptive measures are suggested. irrigation water demand in India will rise from 688
The adaption of any modification in the existing BCM in 2010 to 910 BCM in 2025 (CWC, 2010).
practice depends on the flow rate (or depth of flow) of
About 80% of the population in the Himalayan region
the available water resource, its flowing behavior
is involved in the agricultural occupation. In
(seasonal or perennial), its distance from cultivable
comparison to plane areas, groundwater abstraction
land, and topography of the area.
through wells in the Himalayan terrain is quite difficult
Introduction due to its rocky geological formations (Vashisht,
2008). Hence, the entire Himalayan biodiversity is
In recent years, the occurrences of extreme events such
dependent on perennial springs and surface water
as droughts and floods have been on raise almost
streams. However, the adverse weather conditions due
worldwide (Al-Mukhtar et al., 2014). The Greater
to change in climate have caused detrimental effect on
Himalayas is also witnessing these extremes and the
the flow rate and the perennial nature of these
variation in the availability of water temporally and
resources (Chaudhary and Bawa, 2011; Vashisht and
spatially is getting wider day-by-day in the region. The
Sharma, 2007). In the last four- to five-decades, the
Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental
majority of the springs have either dried-up or has
Panel on Climate Change has also pointed out that the
become seasonal. Consequently, the flow rate in the
availability of freshwater in Asia is projected to
perennial surface water streams has also decreased

138 Annual Technical Volume

drastically. Since, the irrigation practices in the
Himalayan region are completely based on the springs
and surface water streams; the reduction in flow rate
along with the changed flowing pattern of these
perennial resources has drastically disturbed the
system of water tapping practices. To cope with this
changed scenario, by what means the farmers have
modified the existing water tapping and application
techniques are presented in this chapter. This chapter is
a bridge between prevalent water tapping technologies
and the local level adaptations, which are particularly
helpful in making suitable water policies for the region.
Current Agricultural Situation and Irrigation
Status in Himalayas
Figure 1 (a) Traditional stream diversion method. (b) Canal
The majority of the farmers in the Himalayan region in stream bed
are involved in traditional agro-ecosystem of farming
in spite of the fact that the current food grain traditional way of managing such situation is by
production is only 30% of the total requirement. The raising the level of water in stream/river with the help
Himalayas accounts for 14% of total geographical area of stream bed stones and local grasses (as shown in
in India which is occupied by 6% of population (Kumar Figure 1a). It is well understood that for providing
et al., 2009). The net sown area is distributed as patches adequate depth of flow in the downstream canal,
in the matrix of forests and due to uneven topography it diversion bund should be high enough to create proper
is only 10% of the total geographical area (Semwal et head. Conversely, the flow through the upstream canal
al., 2004). The ultimate irrigation potential in the can be maintained by constructing only low-diversion
Himalayan region is ~ 2.80 Mha and out of which ~ bund as it is laid at higher elevation than the
1.65 Mha has been created till IX five-year plan (i.e. downstream canal. The climate change is responsible
1997-2002) (MoWR, 2012). Envisaging the for the decrease in flowing depth of the streams/rivers.
importance of assured water supply for irrigation, For irrigating crops in recession period, the only option
minor irrigation schemes were introduced after left with the farmers is to divert water from the
independence. Till the end of IX five-year plan, there upstream location (where water will be at higher level
were approximately 50,347 surface flow schemes and than the bed level of canal) to the field by adapting
1,958 surface lift schemes in the Himalayan region of following measures.
Water Conveyance using Pipelines
Tapping of Major/Minor Streams in Valleys
Subject to the cost of irrigation project and reduced
Canals are the major source of conveying irrigation water losses, conveying water through pipe lines
water in valleys which directly abstracts the water from (flexible or rigid) is definitely the best option in
streams/rivers. The traditional method by which the comparison to open channels. Moreover, because of
water from the natural stream is diverted towards the natural slope such type of water distribution system in
canal inlet is photographically presented in Figure 1. hilly region can efficiently work without any
The bed level of the canal inlet is fixed at the same level requirement of pumping energy and its operational
with the bed of stream/river. Therefore, water enters cost involves only its maintenance. Flexible pipes may
the canal inlet with head equal to the flowing depth of be used for conveying water for shorter distances (e.g.
water in stream/river. Figure 1a depicts the two parallel to irrigate fields by tapping water from adjoining
canals (with different gradient) that are collecting stream as shown in Figure 1a). However, it is very
water from the same stream, but at different locations difficult to lay flexible pipe with constant slope for
(upstream location is not visible due to vegetation). longer distance in hilly terrain as the development of
Though the inlets of the two-canals are at different high pressures in the downward sloping portions
locations, these are conveying water to the same field. (Figure 2c) of the pipeline may initiate and/or boost
Upstream canal (No. 1) is laid with comparatively leakage through weak portions/joints. Increase in
higher gradient than downstream canal (No. 2). In the water pressure by 1% will typically increase the
recession period, flowing depth in the stream falls to average leakage rate by 1.15% (Lambert, 2000).
such a low-level that either the flow rate through canal Further, the plastic pipes are susceptible to burning due
decreases drastically or it goes completely out of to forest fires (Figure 2a) and their joints are
service due to lack in proper head for flow. The vulnerable to bending and tensile stresses (Figure 2b).

Annual Technical Volume 139

Figure 2 (a) Burning of PVC pipe. (b) Breaking of pipe joint. (c) Over pressure/suction segments in pipeline

GI pipes, on the other hand are less sensitive to

pressure fluctuations (Gomes et al., 2011), bending,
and tensile stresses, and therefore, is the best option for
longer distances.
Conveying Water from Upstream Location using
Non-permanent Setup
The clear cut evidence of declined flow rate in the
streams during recession period is its low flowing level
than the canal inlet. Consequently, the canals
constructed with reference to past flowing level are
now become out of service due to decline in general
flowing depth of the streams (Figure 3). Accordingly,
the adaptation of inexpensive temporary techniques to
collect and divert water from suitable-location
Figure 3: Canal out of service due to decline of flowing level
upstream of the stream is the appropriate answer. It can
of water in stream
be accomplished by constructing a temporary channel
in the stream if its bed material allows the workability very deep. Difficult terrain and delicate geology are
otherwise polythene sheet canal can be used for the the possible reasons. Therefore, the development of
purpose (Figure 4). This temporary infrastructure will cracks in the channel due to undermining by crabs and
remain in service till the end of the recession period. erosion is a frequent phenomenon. Also, the persistent
Adapting Sense of Ownership on Existing Canal wetting and thawing of canal's cement lining leads to
Network its cracking and which is further responsible for heavy
seepage and undermining of the base. Unfortunately, it
In India, the overall irrigation efficiency of is a general mentality of the farmers that if canal is
surface/gravity systems is estimated as 30 to 40% and constructed by the government, then it is also their
major reason for this low efficiency is the dilapidated responsibility to inspect, maintain, and repair it. There
irrigation structures (ICID, 2008). During the visits in is a sheer lack in sense of ownership which is essential
different Himalayan states of India, the authors have for the sustainability of any irrigation system. The
observed that the foundation of the lined canals is not concept of farmers' involvement in management of the

140 Annual Technical Volume

Managing Unlined Canals by Reducing Seepage
The construction of unlined canals in the hilly region is
not very common. These are suitable for low velocity
of flow and farmers usually construct these on
comparatively flat topographical areas with less
permeable surface/subsurface soils (Figure 5a).
However, masonry soil combination is frequently used
when there is a need to cross the canal through the
uneven topography (Figure 5b). High intrinsic
permeability of upper portion of canal bank (Trout,
1979), creation of breaches due to growth of weeds,
presence of organic matter in compacted soil and
crab/rat holes are the responsible factors for excessive
seepage losses through unlined canals. According to
the Indian Standards (Anonymous, 1980), the seepage
loss from unlined canals varies from 0.3 - 7.0 m3 /s per
106 m2 of wetted surface. With passage of time and in
absence of adequate maintenance, the condition of
canals deteriorates and these become irregular in
shape due to non-uniform silting, erosion and weed
Figure 4 Polythene sheet covered temporary canal in the growth, changing the roughness and seepage
stream bed during recession period characteristics (Mishra, 1996). Compaction of the bed
and sides of the unlined canals by putting more earth
wherever required is the effective measure for
irrigation system (i.e. Participatory Irrigation reducing the seepage losses. In case, the compaction
Management) has been accepted as a policy of the measures remain ineffective in controlling the
Governments all over the world. However, the seepage, low-cost temporary lining materials may be
implementation of a new policy always faces hurdles adapted.
before getting stream lined. Above-all, for repair and Lining with bituminous mixture, prefabricated
maintenance of the infrastructure there is a need to fix a bitumen jute mats, soil cement and chemical sealants
suitable %age of its development cost (MoWR, 2012). considerably reduces the seepage losses. Nonetheless,
use of polythene sheet (as shown in Figure 4) provides
practically water-proof channel lining. Its service life

Figure 5 (a) A view of

unlined canal
(b) Unlined canal across
the series of bench

Annual Technical Volume 141

can be increased further by burying it. However, most
of the lining materials are susceptible to damage due to
trampling by livestock, insects, weed growth and
erosion by high velocity flows and requires frequent
inspection during service time.
Construction of Temporary Check Structures
Across Minor Streams
During recession period, the flow to the perennial
streams is contributed by the springs or seepage lines
(Vashisht 2008). In most of the instances, these
perennial streams run at very shallow depth with very
little flow rate. Consequently, the available quantity of
water in these minor streams does not support the Figure 7 A view of traditional irrigation practice. Photograph
surface and micro-irrigation practices in the adjoining in the inset is representing the elaborated view of the water
cropped area. The farmers adapted the construction of fall from upper to lower terrace
permanent check structures at suitable locations across
the perennial streams (Figure 6a). Usually, they practices are prevalent, terraces on the steeply sloping
construct structures in series for attaining maximum regions are developed adjoining to perennial streams
possible storage (Figure 6b). Such water harvesting with adequate flow rate. In traditional method of
structures have become the backbone of recession irrigation, a separate water course/canal or inlet for
period irrigation requirements even for the areas where every terrace is not constructed. Water from the stream
streams are seasonal. is diverted towards the topmost terrace using locally
The above-mentioned adaptation has second facet available materials. After filling the terrace up to
also. There is a lobby of environmentalists and desired depth, water started falling into the lower
ecologists who are against the construction of terrace through small cut(s) provided in the bund of
permanent structures across the streams/rivers. upper terrace and so on (Figure 7). Thus, the terraces
However, adapting the construction of temporary act both as cropped plots as well as water conveyance
check structures using locally available boulders, channels. After filling the lowermost terrace, water is
soil/sand, and grasses is the appropriate solution to this again diverted towards the natural stream. In the entire
problem (Figure 6c). These temporary structures will Himalayan region, this irrigation practice is prevalent
remain in position till the end of recession period and for paddy cultivation and is designated with different
will be demolished later on for unrestricted flow of names in different regions. There is a need to adapt
water through streams during the monsoon season. water saving irrigation practices specifically during
the recession period. Tapping of stream from an
Tapping of Major/Minor Streams on Steeply upstream location using flexible or rigid pipe system is
Sloping Regions an appropriate way of gaining water head for running
Other than the regions where rain-fed cultivation field-level irrigation systems. Steep gradient of the
stream can be beneficially used to lift water to higher
elevation with the aid of hydraulic ram for irrigating
cultivable areas and for storing water at higher
elevation which can be conveniently used for running
gravity-fed water-saving irrigation system at lower
Need to Restrict the Traditional Irrigation Practice
Along with Water Tapping and Conveying System
To restrict the conveyance losses, the farmers have
developed and installed the flexible pipe network
irrigation system in their fields (Figure 8). The system
operates at a pressure around 0.5 kg/cm2 (or 5 m of
head), which is conveniently attainable by tapping the
stream from a location having elevation difference of
Figure 6 (a) A permanent check structure across stream. (b) more than 6 m. Control valves are fixed at the end of
Series of permanent check structures. (c) Temporary check each outlet to check the application rate. Pipelines are
structure constructed using locally available material often thought to be very expensive for small irrigation

142 Annual Technical Volume

50% and is 2 to 2.5 times cheaper than the traditional
sprinkler irrigation system that uses HDPE pipeline to
irrigate equal area (Singh et al., 2010). Therefore, the
adaption of LEWA system is more beneficial for
irrigating field crops in comparison to surface
irrigation practices.
Adapting Hydraulic Ram for Conveying Water at
Higher Elevations
The hydraulic ram (also abbreviated as hydram) is an
impulse machine which uses the kinetic energy in a
falling column of water to lift part of that water to a
height greater than that of the inlet level of drive pipe
Figure 8 Pipe irrigation in terraced land (Figure 10). No external source of energy is required
for its operation but it lifts only 3 to 25% of the water
flowing through ram at various lift magnifications
(Singh, 1987). Experimental results show that the
delivery head for which maximum efficiency is
attained increases as velocity through drive pipe
increases (Lansford and Dugan, 1941). Hence, the
pump is most suitable for regions having streams
flowing at steep gradients. By adapting this pump,
water can be lifted to locations where no other source
of water supply is available.
Spring Water Management
Majority of the cultivable regions located at higher
altitudes (away from the surface water streams) are
clustered around the perennial springs for meeting
their irrigation demands. The discharging pattern and
flow rate of a spring mainly depends on the storage
Figure 9 Diagrammatical representation of low energy water capacity and permeability of its catchment (Vashisht
application (LEWA) device as per the specifications and Banu, 2013). The climatic variability in the
proposed by [Singh et al., 2010] Himalayan region has changed the rainfall pattern and
which is further responsible for the reduced recharging
of the spring catchments, whose impact is visible
projects; however, the flexibility of the system along through the diminishing and/or drying-up of the
with water and land savings make it more appropriate springs during recession period. Around 36% of
adaptive measure to open channels. The systems springs in Himalayan region have gone dry (Tiwari and
achieve very high water conveyance efficiency, but,
still the flooding method of irrigation declines the
overall efficiency of the system. However, the
application efficiency of the system can be increased
substantially by adapting any modern water saving
application technique (such as micro-sprinkler
irrigation). ICAR Research Complex for Eastern
Region, Patna has developed a 'low energy water
application (LEWA)' device (Figure 9) which is cost
effective energy efficient advanced pressurized
irrigation technology for small and marginal farmers
for growing field crops (Singh et al., 2009). The device
operates satisfactorily at an operating pressure ranging
between 0.40-0.60 kg/cm2 (in comparison to impact
sprinkler which required operating pressure range of
0.99-2.99 kg/cm2 ) and is used in place of high pressure Figure 10 The adapted technique for providing the required
overhead sprinkling nozzle which saves energy up to head for efficient working of the hydraulic ram

Annual Technical Volume 143

Joshi, 2012) or become seasonal. In the present farms for command area of 2 hectare (National
scenario, farmers have no choice other than to take Horticulture Mission, 2010).
only one crop in a year (i.e. in monsoon season).
Change in Irrigation Practices Due to Changed
Construction of specifically designed spring water
Cropping Pattern
harvesting ponds and change in irrigation practices due
to changed cropping pattern are some suitable The proper crop planning can save up to 50% of
measures that need adaption. available water with appropriate water management
practices (Shangguan et al., 2002). More lucrative
Construction of Spring Water Harvesting Ponds
returns from the cultivation of vegetables and flowers
It is well understood that the limited availability of are compelling the farmers to leave subsistence
water from springs discharging at low-rate in recession agricultural practices (Vashisht, 2012). To cope with
period cannot fulfill the surface irrigation demands. the existing situations of limited water resources and
Judicious-use feasibility of these small but perennial sloping land features, few innovative farmers have
resources lies with the storage tank based modern developed their own low-head micro-sprinkler
irrigation techniques like drip or low-head sprinkler systems from locally available materials. The designs
system. The various studies have shown that the of two such developments are presented in Figures 11
storage structures significantly improve the irrigation and 12. These systems are quite suitable for terrace
sustainability in dry season. But, the water resources cultivation and can efficiently work with less than 1 m
planning for a region usually involve forecasting its head. Depending on the available head and width of the
future trends for identifying the infrastructure needed plot, sprinkler-head height from the ground surface can
to support them (Gober, 2013) and for that there is a be adjusted easily. However, continuous monitoring of
need to predict the spring discharge rate for selecting the system is essential for frequent shifting of the
the optimal size of the storage (Hajkowicz and Collins, sprinkler heads; which is not a difficult task as the
2007). Vashisht and Banu (2013) have presented the system is used for irrigating vegetable and flower
analytical procedure for predicting the spring crops those are habitually grown near to the residential
discharge rate during the upcoming recession period. areas. Since, these irrigation systems apply water
Considering the advantages of water storage under low pressures and near to ground, these can be
structures, the National Horticulture Mission is also considered under the category 'low elevation spray
providing INR 115.00 per cubic meter for the application (LESA)' in spite of the fact that the
construction of pond of size 20 m × 20 m × 3 m in hilly application device is not located on the drop tube
similar to traditional LESA devices (ASAE Standards,

Figure 11 Diagrammatical
representation of
traditional low elevation
spray application (LESA)

144 Annual Technical Volume

Figure 12 Nail head micro-sprinkler

Acknowledgment management. Water Resources Management 21, pp

The authors are grateful to Dr. Ravi Gupta, All India
Co-ordinated Research Project on Post-Harvest 9. ICID (International Commission on Irrigation &
Drainage), 2008. Water saving in Agriculture.
Technology, Central Agricultural University, Imphal Publication No. 95, New Delhi.
for providing the photographs of locally developed
micro-irrigation system. 10. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change),
2007. Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and
References vulnerability, pages 470-506, in: Parry, M. et al.
1. Al-Mukhtar, M., Dunger, V., Merkel, B., 2014. (Eds.), Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth
Assessing the impacts of climate change on hydrology assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on
of the upper reach of the Spree River: Germany. Water Climate Change, Cambridge University Press,
Resources Management 28, pp 2731-2749. Cambridge, United Kingdom.

2. Anonymous, 1980. Measurement of seepage losses 11. Kumar, M., Kumar, N., Singh, K.P., Kumar, P.,
from canals. IS: 9452 (part I & II), Indian Standard Srinivas, K., Srivastva, A.K., 2009. Integrating water
Code of Practice. Bureau of Indian Standards, New harvesting and gravity-fed micro-irrigation system for
Delhi. efficient water management in terraced land for
growing vegetables. Biosystems Engineering 102, pp
3. ASAE Standards, 2005. ASAE S526.2 Soil and Water 106-113.
Terminology. St Joseph, MI, USA.
12. Lambert, A., 2000. What do we know about pressure:
4. Chaudhary, P., Bawa, K.S., 2011. Local perceptions of leakage relationships in distribution systems?, in:
climate change validated by scientific evidence in the System approach to leakage control and water
Himalayas. Biological Letters 7(5), pp 767–770. distribution systems management', specialized
5. CWC (Central Water Commission, India), 2010. conference proc., IWA, Brno, Czech Republic.
Water and related statistics. Water Resources 13. Lansford, W.M., Dugan, W.G., 1941. An analytical
Information System Directorate, Information System and experimental study of the hydraulic ram. Bulletin
Organization, Water Planning & Projects Wing. XXXVIII (22), University of Illinois, Urbana.
6. Gober, P., 2013. Getting outside the water box: the 14. Mishra, R., 1996. Spatially varied steady flow in
need for new approaches to water planning and policy. irrigation canals. Agricultural Water Management 30,
Water Resources Management 27, pp 955-957. pp 217-235.
7. Gomes, R., Marques, A.S., Sousa, J., 2011. Estimation 15. MoWR (Ministry of Water Resources), 2012.
of the benefits yielded by pressure management in National Water Policy, 2012. Government of India.
water distribution systems. Urban Water Journal 8(2), Available at <
pp 65-77. linkimages/NWP2012Eng6495132651.pdf>.
8. Hajkowicz, S., Collins, K., 2007. A review of multiple 16. Semwal, R.L., Nautiyal, S., Sen, K.K., Rana, U.,
criteria analysis for water resource planning and Maikhuri, R.K., Rao, K.S., Saxena, K.G., 2004.

Annual Technical Volume 145

Patterns and ecological implications of agricultural and sustainable development of water resources in the
land-use changes: a case study from central Himalaya, Himalayan headwaters of India. Water Resources
India. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 102, Management 26, pp 883-907.
pp 81-92.
22. Trout, T.J., 1979. Factors affecting losses from Indus
17. Shangguan, Z., Shao, M., Horton, R., Lei, T., Qin, L., Basin irrigation channels. Technical Report No. 50,
Ma, J., 2002. A model for regional optimal allocation Water Management Research Project, Colorado State
of irrigation water resources under deficit irrigation University, Fort Collins.
and its applications. Agricultural Water Management
23. Vashisht, A.K., 2008. Ingenious techniques for
52, pp 139–154.
irrigation sustainability in Himalayan and Shiwalik
18. Singh, A.K., Rahman, A., Sharma, S.P., Upadhyaya, foothill regions. Current Science 95(12), pp 1688-
A., Sikka, A.K., 2009. Small holders' irrigation – 1693.
problems and options. Water Resources Management
24. Vashisht, A.K., 2012. Current status of the traditional
23, pp 289-302.
watermills of the Himalayan region and the need of
19. Singh, A.K., Sharma, S.P., Upadhyaya, A., Rahman, technical improvements for increasing their energy
A., Sikka, A.K., 2010. Performance of low energy efficiency. Applied Energy 98, pp 307-315.
water application device. Water Resources
25. Vashisht, A.K., Banu, B., 2013. Formulating the
Management 24, pp 1353-1362.
spring discharge-function for the recession period by
20. Singh, D., 1987. Use of hydraulic rams (hydrams) in analysing its recession curve: a case study of the
hill area. In: Kumar T.M. Vinod, Ahuja, D.R., Rural Ranichauri spring (India). Journal Earth System
energy planning for the Indian Himalaya, Science 122(5), pp 1313-1323.
International Centre for Integrated Mountain
26. Vashisht, A.K., Sharma, H.C., 2007. Study on
Development, Tata Energy Research Institute, Wiley
hydrological behavior of a natural spring. Current
Science 93(6), pp 837-840.
21. Tiwari, P.C., Joshi, B., 2012. Environmental changes

146 Annual Technical Volume

Traditional Irrigation Systems in Punjab
M. L. Ohri
Director-cum Principal, Anand College of Engineering & Management
Infront of Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala

Introduction These Systems are more than a century old and it is

difficult to even imagine today to develop such a
Irrigation is the artificial application of water to the
land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of system of high level strength and utility. The estimated
agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and value at the present price level of Water Resource
revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during Infrastructure in the State is more than Rs. 50,000.00
periods of inadequate rainfall. Additionally, irrigation crore. Punjab Irrigation Department was set up in the
also has a few other uses in crop production, which year 1849 and has a number of milestones worth
include protecting plants against frost, suppressing mentioning. Construction of upper Bari Doab Canal
weed growth in grain fields and preventing soil from river Ravi at Madhopur, Sirhind Canal from river
consolidation. In contrast, agriculture that relies only Sutlej at Ropar, Eastern Canal & Bikaner Canal from
on direct rainfall is referred to as rain-fed or dryland river Sutlej at Hussainiwala headworks date back to
farming. pre-independence era. Post independence period is
This paper is meant for only Punjab State. Main source still brighter when monumental multipurpose projects
of irrigation water source river or underground like Bhakra Dam on river Sutlej, Pong Dam on river
resources. Beas, Beas Sullej Link Project and Ranjit sagar Dam
on river Ravi have been constructed in addition to
Water from these river diverted from canal to main construction of Nangal Hydel Channel, Anandpur
canal to main branch distributory. Sahib Hydel Channel, Bhakra Canal System,
Water also available in underground by lighting open Mukerian Hydel Channel,Shah Nehan Barrage, Harike
wells or tubewells. Barrage etc.
This paper relate to brief introduction about dams Irrigation structure in Punjab state which are helpful in
constructed in Punjab state to store the water for supplying irrigation water are being discussed below:
irrigation purpose.
Dams on Gateway of Punjab
Historical Background
There are three rivers crossing Punjab
Punjab, the name derived from the Persian words, Punj
(five) and ab (water) was a land of five rivers which 1. River Beas L = 256.43 km, Embankment = 215.84
formed part of Indus Basin till 1947. After partition of km,
the country, Indus water Treaty-1960 restricted Indiaâs 2. River Sutlej L = 582.68 km, Embankment = 484.12
rights of usage to only three Eastern rivers (Sutlej, Ravi km,
and Beas), the three Western rivers (Indus, Chenab and
Jhelum) were earmarked for exclusive usage of 3. River Ravi L = 141.29 km, Embankment = 245.28
Pakistan. Punjab does have a very well developed and km
interlinked river system and widespread 14500 kms
long Canal Systems.

RANJIT SAGAR DAM is constructed on River Ravi

Annual Technical Volume 147

Bhakra Nangal Dam

Pong Dam

Flow Irrigation System (Canal System) Objectives

The total river water allocated to Punjab is 14.22 MAF Water is the most essential natural resource, a basic
which is distributed to command area through 7 main human need and the most important input for all
canal system namely Sirhind Canal System, Bist Doab human development activity. The main objective of
Canal system, UBDC system , Sirhind Feeder System, the Admn is to develop, plan, utilize and manage this
Eastern Canal system, Bhakra Main line System and important resource for irrigation in a judicious,
Shahnehar Canal System. equitable, sustainable and sound economic manner.

Canal Administration is primarily responsible for An Act to regulate irrigation, namely 'Northern India
Canal and Drainage Act, 1873 has been enacted for this
operation and maintenance of a very well developed
and widespread 14500 kms long canal system and 5
Head Works. Total cultivable command area in Punjab Sirhind Canal System
is 42.90 lac hectare out of which 30.88 lac hectare has The Sirhind Canal is a large irrigation canal that carries
been brought under command of canals networks (in water from the Sutlej River in Punjab state, India. It is
addition to pre-partition utilization of 32MAF in one of the oldest and biggest irrigation works in the
Shahnehar Canal System). Indus river system, and was inaugurated in 1882. He
The canal infrastructure which was developed in pre canal begins at Ropar headworks near Ropar city in
independence and post independence period as per Rupnagar district of Punjab.
details: The Sirhind Canal begins at Ropar and heads
Canal irrigation systems in Punjab comprise of southwest to Doraha in Ludhiana district. At Doraha,
the canal splits into three: the Abohar branch, the
Sirhind Canal system
v Bathinda branch and the Patiala branch. Each of these
Bist Doab Canal system
v further subdivides extensively to irrigate a large
swathe of the Malwa region of Punjab. Once a partially
Bhakra Main Line (BML) Canal system
arid zone, this area is now extremely fertile due to the
Upper Bari Doab Canal system, Kashmir Canal
v water distributed by the canal network.
Ferozepur Feeder/Sirhind Feeder system
v Bist Doab Canal System
Eastern Canal system
v The Bist Doab Canal off takes from the right bank of
Makhu Canal system
v river Sutlej upstream of Ropar headwork. The Bist
Shahnehar Canal system
v Doab Canal system, constructed in 1954-55, is spread
over a length of 805 km. The canal has an authorized
Kashmir Canal system.
v capacity of 1452 Cs. with a culturable command area
The Rajasthan
v Feeder and Bikaner Canal which of 1.99 lac hect. Over the years, the carrying capacity
carry Ravi-Beas water exclusively for Rajasthan of the canal has got reduced to 1000 Cs. The system
run a considerable length over Punjab Territory. needs comprehensive rehabilitation/ renovation.

148 Annual Technical Volume

Bhakra Main Line (BML) Canal System has capacity of 11192 Cs was constructed in 1952-53
and runs in a length of about 51.30 Kms, for supply of
The Bhakra Main Line Canal is an extension of Nangal
Ravi Beas waters to two distributary systems
Hydel Channel. The authorized capacity of Nangal (Mayawah, Sodhinagar) having a combined discharge
Hydel Channel which offtakes from Nangal Barrage of 309 Cs.
downstream of Bhakra Dam is 12500 Cs. The
authorized capacity of BML canal is 12455 Cs at head The Sirhind Feeder off taking from Ferozepur Feeder
after taking into account 45 Cs. of losses in Nangal at RD 55413 ft. was constructed during 1954-55 and
Hydel Channel . The Bhakra Main Line has a length of runs in a length of about 136.50 km. It has an
about 164Km, out of which 159 Km falls in Punjab authorized capacity of 5264Cs, having a culturable
Territory and the balance is in Haryana. The BML command area of 3.6 lac hect.
canal was built during 1950-54. It is an inter-state The Rajasthan Feeder is a lined channel, with single
channel which supplies water for irrigation and tile lining in bed and double tile lining on side slopes.
drinking purposes to Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. This type of lining was adopted, probably for the
The drinking water supplies are also made to reason, that ground water table was 33 meters deep at
Chandigarh (160 Cs) and Delhi (370 Cs) through the the time of construction of Rajasthan Feeder. The full
B.M.L Canal. The carrying capacity of BML canal was supply depth from 0- 179000 was kept as 14.40 ft and
restored to its authorized discharge of 12455 Cs in the in the downstream reach RD 179000 to tail, the same
year 2004. was kept as 21.0 ft.
Narwana Branch Canal with an authorized capacity of The seepage from Rajasthan Feeder and Sirhind
4500Cs, off takes at RD 158230/L of BML Canal, out Feeder in Punjab Territory has assumed alarming
of which 4022 Cs water is supplied to Haryana . The proportions in as much as, the seepage from these
length of Narwana Branch is about 98 Km, out of canal systems has been found to be 191.05 MCM i.e.
which 49 Km falls in Punjab. The total length of 21% of the total annual ground water recharge. There
channel off takes from BML Canal and Narwana has been an enormous rise in sub soil water
Branch in Punjab portion is of the order of 1256 Km, level(SSWL) in reach RD 179000 to 496000 of the
with an irrigation potential of 7,35,463 acres. Rajasthan Feeder and RD 124000 to 434000 of Sirhind
Feeder. Out of 84800 hectare of fertile land critically
Upper Bari Doab Canal system, Kashmir Canal
affected by water logging in Faridkot, Mukatsar,
A barrage was constructed at Madhopur after the weir Malout, Lambi, Abohar and Gidderbaha tracts of
type structure got damaged in the flood of 1955 and the Punjab, 25% area is adjoining Rajasthan and Sirhind
UBDC system which off-takes from Madhopur Feeders.
Headworks was further developed by including Eastern Canal System
additional areas. The UBDC system was remodeled
during 2001-2005, to ensure full utilization of stored Eastern Canal system is a non-perennial system. Its
waters of river Ravi, as a result of commissioning of construction was completed in 1927 and it used to off
Ranjit Sagar Dam in the year 2000. The UBDC take from Hussainiwala Headworks. However, after
presently, has an authorized discharge of 9000 Cs. the construction of Harike Headworks, the supply of
Seven main / branch canals off take from UBDC with water to Eastern canal system and Bikaner Canal has
247 distributaries and minors, off taking from these been switched over to Harike Headworks, except for a
main branch canals. The UBDC system is spread over portion of Eastern canal running in a length of about
a length of 3119 Km, having a culturable command 8.02 kms which receives water supply from
area of 5.73 lac hect Hussainiwala Headworks for feeding 7 distribution
and 8 minors. The authorised discharge of Eastern
Ferozepur Feeder/Sirhind Feeder system/ Canal system is 3197 cs, which has culturable
Rajasthan Feeder command area of 2.16 lac hect and runs in a length of
The Rajasthan Feeder which carries Ravi-Beas waters 856 kms.
exclusively for Rajasthan off- takes from Harike Makhu Canal System
Headworks. It has a capacity of 18500 Cs. However,
the head regulator of the canal has a capacity of 15000 The Makhu Canal, with a designed capacity of 292 cs
Cs which is sufficient for supplying allocated offtakes at Harike headwork. The Makhu Canal
Quantum of Ravi Beas waters to Rajasthan. The canal system spreads over a length of 92.8 Km and has a
which was constructed in the year 1958-1961, runs in a culturable command area of 20600 hectares.
length of 149.53 Km in Ferozepur, Muktsar and Shahnehar Canal System
Faridkot districts of Punjab.
Shahnehar Headwork was constructed downstream of
Ferozepur Feeder off takes from Harike Headworks. It Pong Dam in the year 1983 on river Beas. Mukerian

Annual Technical Volume 149

Hydel Channel off takes from this headworks and four Headworks
power houses having a total installed capacity of 207
Headworks is a civil engineering term for any structure
MW have been constructed at RDs 6.349, 16.004,
at the head or diversion point of a waterway. It is
18.939 and 27.404 Km of the Mukerian Hydel channel,
smaller than a barrage and is used to divert water from
for production of electricity before Beas waters is
a river into a canal or from a large canal into a smaller
released for utilization at Harike. The old Shahnehar
canal was replaced by constructing feeder No.1 and canal.
feeder No. II canals (designed capacity 306+252=558 Any hydraulic structure which supplies water to the
Cs) off-taking from Mukerian Hydel channel and off-taking canal is called a headwork. Headwork may
extending irrigation in Kandi areas for ensuring 0.32 be :
MAF of pre-partition usage of Beas water.
1. Storage headwork.
Kashmir Canal System
2. Diversion headwork.
Kashmir Canal off-takes from River Ravi upstream of
Madhopur Headworks. It provides irrigation water to A Storage headwork comprises the construction of a
the State of J&K and some areas of Punjab as per old dam on the river. It stores water during the period of
agreements. The length of canal is 5.26 km with an excess supplies and releases it when demand overtakes
authorized capacity of 1050 cs at head. Lift schemes available supplies.
installed on the canal draw 250 Cs of water. The Canal A diversion headwork serves to divert the required
bifurcates into two branches, namely chakandar feeder supply to canal from the river. Introduction Diversion
and Kathua Canal with a discharge of 400 Cs. each. Headworks ¾ A diversion head works is a structure
Details of Main Canal constructed across a river for the purpose of raising
water level in the river so that it can be diverted into the
offtaking canals. ¾ Diversion headworks are generally
Components of Headwork

150 Annual Technical Volume

1. Weir Guide Banks & Marginal Bunds
2. Undersluices Guide banks are provided on either side of the
diversion headworks for a smooth approach and to
3. Divide Wall prevent the river from outflanking.
4. Fish Ldder Various Method Used In Punjab For Various Crops
5. Canal Head Regulator Various Methods are:
6. Silt Excludor 1. Surface Irrigatiion
a. Flooding Method
7. River Training Works
i. Wild or Free Flooding
Under Sluices
ii. Border Strip Irrigation
lUndersluice sections are provided adjacent to the iii. Check Flooding
canal head regulators.
iv. Basin Flooding
lThe undersluices should be able to pass fair
b. Furrow Irrigation
weather flow for which the crest shutters on the
weir proper need not be dropped. I. Deep Furrows
lThe crest level of the undersluices is generally II. Shallow Furrows
kept at the average bed level of the river. 2. Sub-Surface Irrigation
Divide Wall 3. Overhead Irrigation
Free Flooding
A divide wall is constructed parallel to the direction of
flow of river to separate the weir section and the Free Flooding Method is used for - Rice
undersluices section to avoid cross flows
Fish Ladder
A fish ladder is a passage provided adjacent to the
divide wall on the weir side for the fish to travel from
u/s to d/s and vice versa.

Border Strip Irrigation

Border Strip Irrigation is used for – Wheat , Barley

Check Flooding
Canal Head Regulator
Check Flooding is used for: Fodder Crops
A canal head regulator is provided at the head of the
45canal offtaking from the diversion headworks.
Silt Excluder
A silt excluder is a structure in the undersluices pocket
to pass the silt laden water to the downstream so that
only clear water enters into the canal through head

Annual Technical Volume 151

Furrow Irrigation
This method is used for- Potato

Tube wells
Sprinkler Irrigation
It is the lifting of water by pumping from underground
Sprinkler Irrigation used for: Brinjal, Carrot reservoir. Extensive surface irrigation results in an
increase in the ground water level due to percolation
and seepage which causes water logging in large areas.
Irrigation by this method will reduce the yield. Tube
well offers a remedial measure by providing sub
surface drainage.
Tube well irrigation can be obtained more quickly than
from surface water project. Large costs involve in
making canals for the construction of headworks,
whereas less cost is involved in constructing
Lift Irrigation System tubewells.

When the main source is at the lower level than the Types of Irrigation Systems
supply level. Then water is supplied through some Ditch Irrigation
mechanical means. This is known as lift irrigation.
This can be done by the following methods.
Lift from canals.

Open wells.

Tube wells.

Lift from canals (Rivers)

Pumps are used to lift the water from canals or rivers at
lower level to the area at higher level for irrigation
Ditch Irrigation is a rather traditional method, where
Open wells ditches are dug out and seedlings are planted in rows.
In villages there are some open holes whose depth The plantings are watered by placing canals or furrows
intercepts the water table. So the water is taken out in between the rows of plants. Siphon tubes are used to
from lower level to the surface for irrigation purpose move the water from the main ditch to the canals. This
by adopting different mechanical means. system of irrigation was once very popular in the USA,
but most have been replaced with modern systems.
Terraced Irrigation
This is a very labor-intensive method of irrigation

152 Annual Technical Volume

where the land is cut into steps and supported by sprinklers, sprays or guns, installed on permanent
retaining walls. The flat areas are used for planting and risers. You can also have the system buried
the idea is that the water flows down each step, while underground and the sprinklers rise up when water
watering each plot. This allows steep land to be used pressure rises, which is a popular irrigation system
for planting crops.
A well is a hole dug in the ground to obtain the subsoil
Drip Irrigation water. An ordinary well is about 3-5 metres deep but
deeper wells up-to 15 metres are also dug. A tube well
This is known as the most water efficient method of
irrigation. Water drops right near the root zone of a
plant in a dripping motion. If the system is installed
properly you can steadily reduce the loss of water
through evaporation and runoff.

is a deeper well (generally over 15 metres deep) from

Sprinkler System which water is lifted with the help of a pumping set
operated by an electric motor or a diesel engine
This is an irrigation system based on overhead

Annual Technical Volume 153

Aspects of Irrigation Systems in Haryana :
An Overview
Narender Singh
Sub-Divisional Engineer
Public Works Department (B&R) Br. Sirsa, Haryana

Haryana is one of the smallest and progressive states of India. It has a population of 25.40 million, a
geographical area of 4.421 Mha (Million Hectare), and most of the land is flat. About 65% of the population is
rural based and generally engaged in agriculture and allied professions. Precipitation is only in the form of
rainfall, which is erratic and uneven distributed, varying from about 1100 mm in the northeastern parts of the
state to about 300 mm in the southern & southwestern parts. The total culturable command area of the state is
3.664 Mha, of which 3.102 Mha is served by different means of irrigation like canals, wells, public & private tube
wells, etc. There are four major irrigation systems (viz. Western Yamuna canal system, Bhakra canal system, Lift
irrigation system and Agra canal & Gurgaon canal systems) and two minor/ micro irrigation systems (viz.
Sprinkler irrigation system and Drip irrigation system) available in the state for irrigating the crops. In this
paper, efforts have been made to provide an overview of the existing irrigation systems in Haryana along with
elaboration of difficulties faced by the state in their operation and water distribution disputes with the
neighboring states.
Keywords: Major irrigation systems, Micro irrigation systems, Culturable command area, Irrigation potential,
Crop intensity, Water distribution disputes

On 1st Nov., 1966 the state of Haryana was borne after
the trifurcation of the state of Punjab, while the western
district were kept in Punjab, above northern areas
(district Shimla & Kangra) were merged into the state
of Himachal Pradesh and the eastern & south-eastern
parts were formed into the new state named as
Haryana. After the division, the necessitated asset and
liabilities of the undivided state were divided into the
new states roughly in the ratio 60:40 (Punjab:
Haryana). Thus the then irrigation department of Figure 1 Net area irrigated by different means in Haryana
Punjab was also divided between newly created states.
This created problem in the distribution of the MAF (Million Acre Feet) against the total availability
available water resources like many other problems for of 18.75 MAF as given in Table 1. Because of the
the division of assets. Some of these problems still limited water resources available to the state and wide
continue to be unsolved and continue to be bone of gap between the demand & availability, it difficult to
contention between the two states [1]. meet with the growing demand of various sectors like
agricultural, domestic and industrial. The present
Net Area Irrigated by different Means average utilization of water in the state is 13.58 MAF
As mentioned in the Statistical Abstract Haryana 2013- as given in Table 2 [3, 4].
14, the net area irrigated by different means (like Irrigation Network of Haryana State
canals, tube wells, etc.) has been increased from 1.293
Mha in 1966-67 to 3.102 Mha in 2012-13 as shown in After the formation of Haryana, one of the priority
Figure 1 [2]. areas of the state government has been creation of
irrigation infrastructure to meet the growing demands
Demand and Availability of Water Resources of agriculture as well as drinking water. This was
The estimated demand of water for irrigation including necessary, as 54% of the area has underground
domestic and industrial uses for the state is about 33.65 brackish water. Over the years an extensive irrigation

154 Annual Technical Volume

Table 1 Total availability of water to Haryana in foreseeable future

Table 2 Present utilization of water resources in Haryana (10 years average)

network has evolved consisting of 59 main canals Western Yamuna Canal System
having a length of 1500 km and 1326 distributaries &
Western Yamuna Canal (WYC) off taking from river
minors having a length of 12328 km as shown in
Yamuna was constructed in 1335 A.D. during Feroj
Figure 2. Presently 80% of the total culturable
Shah Tughlaq's rule but it ceased to flow in 1750 due to
command area of the state is irrigated with cropping
excessive siltation. Government of India appointed
intensity of 181% [4].
Mr. G. R. Blane, an Engineer of Bengal Engineers in
Major Irrigation Systems 1817 to restore old Mughal canal. The canal was de-
silted and renovated during a period of 3 years. There
There are four major irrigation systems in the state as
was no permanent head works constructed on river
shown in Figure 3 and discussed below [4- 6].
Yamuna. The supplies in canal rose and fell with the
seasonal variation in the flow of river. The famine of
1832-33 led to remodeling of the canal and
construction of weir on Yamuna at Tajewala and a low
masonry dam at Dadupur & Somb torrents about 19.2
km downstream of Tajewala were constructed during
1875-79. The Sirsa branch, the largest of the branch
canals of WYC was constructed during 1889-1895.
The WYC system was extensively remodeled and
extended during 1940-43. In order to tackle the
problem of excessive entry of silt and also from safety
point of view, Govt. of India in consultation with
Haryana and U.P. decided to replace the old Tajewala
head works with modern Hathnikund Barrage across
river Yamuna as shown in Figure 4a.
As per the agreement, the cost of the barrage is shared
between Haryana and U.P. in the ratio of 2/3: 1/3. The
barrage has 10 bays of 18 meter size. WYC is 82 km
long with head discharge capacity of 16000 cusec.
WYC and its branches feed water to Kurukshetra,
Figure 2 Irrigation network of Haryana state

Figure 3 Major irrigation systems in Haryana

Annual Technical Volume 155

Mohindergarh canal along with Narnaul branch;
Satnali feeder and a large number of network of
distributaries and minors (fig. 2). The water is lifted
against the reverse slope of the country at pump houses
which intercept the alignments of channels at
appropriate intervals. 92 pump houses are constructed
out of 98 pumps planned. Pump house JF-1 is the first
lifting station at 96.646 km of JLN feeder where water
is lifted by 3.88 meter. Pump house JF-2 at tail end of
JLN feeder at 104.57 km is the major lift which feeds
JLN canal, Mohindergarh canal, Jakhla distributary,
Amboli distributary [11].
Agra Canal and Gurgaon Canal Systems
Agra canal was constructed in the year 1873, mainly
for providing irrigation during cultivation of rabi crop.
Figure 4 Western Yamuna canal system
This canal off takes from Okhla Barrage (earlier Okhla
weir) from the right side of river Yamuna and covers
Karnal, Panipat, Sonepat, Jind, Rohtak and Jhajjar 11.2 km in National Capital city of Delhi, from km 11.2
districts with a culturable command area (CCA) of to km 79.2 in Faridabad district of Haryana and from
0.970 Mha. Eastern Yamuna Canal (EYC) is of U.P. km 79.2 to tail in Mathura & Agra districts of U.P.
which off takes from the barrage is a separate project including distribution system (fig. 4b). Okhla barrage
[7, 8]. has 22 numbers of spillway bays and 5 numbers under
Bhakra Canal System sluice bays. The barrage caters to the projects like Agra
canal, Gurgaon canal, Bharatpur feeder and Badarpur
Bhakra canal system with a CCA of 1.383 Mha, is thermal power station. Gurgaon canal has been drawn
irrigating the districts Ambala, Kaithal, Hisar, at the Okhla barrage from the Yamuna. The Gurgaon
Fatehabad and Sirsa. The Bhakra Main Line (BML) canal system has not developed because of non
canal is an extension of Nangal Hydel Channel which availability of surplus Ravi- Beas water. The Agra
off takes from Nangal Barrage downstream of Bhakra canal & Gurgaon canal systems irrigate some areas of
dam (fig. 2) and has an authorized capacity of 12500 districts Faridabad, Gurgaon and Mewat with a CCA
cusec. The authorized capacity of BML canal is 12455 of 0.139 Mha [12].
cusec at head after taking into account 45 cusec of
losses in Nangal Hydel Channel. BML canal was Micro Irrigation Systems
constructed during 1950-54 with a length of about 164 Due to scarcity of water, the state government
Km, out of which 159 Km falls in Punjab territory and promoted the micro irrigation systems by the way of
the balance is in Haryana. It is an inter-state channel providing 50 to 90% subsidy to the farmers for
which supplies water for irrigation and drinking adopting these systems and to conserve the available
purposes to Punjab, Haryana & Rajasthan. The water resources. To implement these systems in
drinking water supplies are also made to Chandigarh Haryana, a State Micro Irrigation Committee (SMIC)
(160 cusec) & Delhi (370 cusec) through B.M.L Canal. was formed in 2006. There are two micro (minor)
Narwana branch canal off takes at RD 158230/ L of irrigation systems in the state as shown in Figure 5.
BML canal and have an authorized capacity of 4500
cusec, out of which 4022 cusec water is supplied to
Haryana. The length of Narwana Branch is about 98
Km, out of which 49 Km falls in Punjab [9, 10].
Lift Irrigation System
Lift irrigation system with a CCA of 0.556 Mha,
serving the districts Rohtak (part), Bhiwani,
Mohindergarh and Rewari. This system has been Figure 5 : Micro Irrigation Systems in Haryana
constructed to be finally receiving the surplus Ravi-
Beas water and has therefore not been utilized as per
the available infrastructure. Jawahar Lal Nehru (JLN) Sprinkler Irrigation System
lift irrigation scheme, estimated to have cost nearly Sprinkler irrigation is a method of applying irrigation
165.0 crore, comprises of JLN feeder; JLN canal; water which is similar to rainfall. Water is distributed

156 Annual Technical Volume

Figure 6 Layout of Sprinkler Irrigation System Figure 7 Layout of Drip Irrigation System

through a system of pipes usually by pumping as have been embroiling in a water sharing dispute from
shown in Figure 6. The water is then sprayed into the Ravi and Beas rivers. The Government of India
air and irrigated entire soil surface through spray heads allocated 3.5 MAF (Million Acre Feet) of the water to
so that it breaks up into small water drops which fall to Haryana in March 1976. To carry its share of surplus
the ground. Sprinklers provide efficient coverage for water, Haryana suggested construction of a link canal
small to large areas and are suitable for use on all types in the territories of the two neighboring states. Haryana
of irrigable soils. started construction of the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL)
canal in 1976 and completed it in 1980 Figure 8.
This system is adopted for judicious use of available
water. By the adoption of this system, more area Punjab abruptly stopped work on the canal in July
become available for cultivation and the water is 1990. Haryana approached Hon'ble Supreme Court
effectively used [13]. (SC) in 1996 seeking direction to Punjab and the Union
Drip Irrigation System of India to complete the canal in a time bound manner.
The SC, in January 2002, ordered Punjab to complete
Drip irrigation is the most efficient method of
irrigating. While sprinkler system is around 75-85%
efficient, drip system typically is 90% or higher. Drip
irrigation works by applying water slowly and directly
to the soil with the help of a dripper/ emitter as shown
in Figure 7.
The high efficiency of drip irrigation results from two
primary factors. The first is that the water soaks into
the soil before it can evaporate or run off. The second is
that the water is only applied where it is needed (at the
plant's roots), rather than sprayed everywhere [14, 15].
The potential area under micro irrigation in Haryana is
given in Table 3 [16].
From the Table 3, it is clear that the state is not fully
utilizing the potential of the micro irrigation systems
and need more efforts for their optimization so as to
increase the crop intensity and to conserve the
available water resources.
Inter State Water Distribution Disputes
After the erstwhile Punjab was reorganized into
Punjab and Haryana in November 1966, the two states
Figure 8 Sutlej Yamuna Link canal
Table 3 Potential area under micro irrigation in Haryana

Annual Technical Volume 157

the canal in one year [17]. The Punjab Assembly, References
however, on July 12, 2004, passed the Punjab 1. Manual of Irrigation Practice (Part-I), PWD (Irrigation
Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, annulling all Branch), First Edition, 1996.
inter-state agreements signed by Punjab on sharing
2. Statistical Abstract Haryana 2013-14, Department of
Ravi and Beas water. The Government of India, on Economic and Statistical Analysis, Government of
July 22, 2004, sought the SC's opinion on the validity Haryana, 2015.
of the Termination of Agreements Act through a
3. Report of the Working Group on Water Resources for the
Presidential Reference under Section 143 of the
XI Five Year Plan (2007-2012) Ministry of Water
Constitution [18]. Resources, Government of India, December, 2006.
The Hansi Butana canal was built by Haryana to take 4. Orientation Programme about the Working of Irrigation
its share of water from Bhakra Main Line (BML) at Department, Haryana Irrigation Research and
Samana. Haryana had already spent Rs 354 crore on Management Institute (HIRMI), Kurukshetra, June 4-
the construction of the intra-state canal for effective 16, 2007.
utilization of its share of water from the BML. Punjab 5.
has been objecting to Haryana's move as this canal and 6. Induction Training Programme, Haryana Institute of
the cemented wall built alongside it has threatened Public Administration (HIPA), Gurgaon, July 30-
large area of Punjab with floods in rainy season, as the August 17, 2007.
canal was a major obstruction in the natural flow of
7. Western Yamuna Canal Major Irrigation Project
water. Haryana Assembly had passed a resolution JI01653, Water Resources Information System of India.
seeking construction of balance length of SYL canal
on July 14, 2014. Government of Haryana has once 8.
again raised the issue of SYL and Hansi Butana canals 9.
on May 28, 2015 and urged central government to 10. Bhakra Beas Management Board (Irrigation Wing),
“solve” the decade long issue of SYL canal and clear Handbook of Instructions for the Design of Lined and
the “hurdles” in the way of Hansi Butana canal [19]. Unlined Channels and Masonry Works, 1977.
Both these issues are yet to be resolved and continue to 11.
be bone of contention between Haryana and Punjab 12. Agra Canal Major Irrigation Project Uttar Pradesh
states. JI03261, Water Resources Information System of India.
Conclusion 13.

The development of irrigation network in Haryana 14.

helps in the prosperity and crop growth. The various 15.
irrigation systems are being operated effectively and 16. PMKSY-CAD-Sprinkler and Drip Promotion, Ministry
efficiently. However, the state is still waiting for its due of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga
share of water and is suffering because of the non- Rejuvenation, Khajuraho, M.P., India, ppt.
construction of SYL canal and non operation of Hansi 17.
Butana canal. The irrigation system will further
improve when this legitimate share of water is received 18. A Canal Crisis, Frontline, India's National Magazine
from the Publishers of the Hindu, Vol. 21, Issue-16, July
by Haryana. The state government should make efforts 31-Aug 13, 2004.
to resolve these problems so as to optimum utilization
of available water resources with active participation 19. Sutlej Yamuna Link Row: Haryana to Move Supreme
Court Against Punjab, The Economic Times, Feb 3,
of the stakeholders. 2015

158 Annual Technical Volume

Water Harvesting Systems in Central Highlands
O. T. Gulati
Chairman, Water Management Forum
The Institution Engineers (India), Ahmedabad

Introduction devised according to the peculiarities of the terrain to

divert water from swift-flowing hill streams into
The Central Highlands comprise the semi-arid uplands
irrigation channels called pats (Figure 1). The
of eastern Rajasthan, the Aravalli range and the
diversion bunds across the stream are made by piling
uplands of the Banas-Chambal basin in Rajasthan; the
up stones and then lining them with teak leaves and
Jhansi and Mirzapur uplands of Uttar Pradesh; the
mud to make them leakproof. The pat channel has to
eastern hilly regions of Dangs and Panchmahal in
negotiate small nullahs that join the stream off and on,
Gujarat; northern Madhya Pradesh uplands; the Sagar,
and also sheer cliffs before reaching the fields. These
Bhopal and the Ratlam plateaus of central Madhya
sections invariably get washed away during the
Pradesh; and the Narmada region, including the flanks
monsoons. Stone aqueducts have to be built to span the
of the Vindhya and Satpura ranges of southern Madhya
intervening nullahs. The villagers irrigate their fields
by turns. The channel requires constant maintenance
The semi-arid region of eastern Rajasthan is marked and it is the duty of the family irrigating the fields on a
with intervening valleys. The annual rainfall varies particular day to take care of the pat on that particular
from 350-450 mm. The Uttar Pradesh uplands are a day. It takes about two weeks to get the pat flowing and
part of the Vindhyan system. The average elevation in the winter crop is sown in early November.
the region is 500-600 metres (m) and slopes towards
Saza Kuva
the Indo-Gangetic Plain in the north. While the Jhansi
uplands are dry, the Mirzapur uplands are This is an open dug well, which has several owners. In
comparatively wet. Mewari language, saza means 'partner'. This is an
important method for irrigation in the Aravalli hills in
The general elevation of the northern Madhya Pradesh
Mewar, eastern Rajasthan. These are considered
uplands is between 300-600 m with numerous thickly
common property resources (Figure 2). The soil dug
forested hills. The region is full of ravines and derelict
out to make the well pit is used to construct a huge
lands, the result of severe erosion. Rainfall in the
circular foundation or an elevated platform sloping
southern Madhya Pradesh uplands varies between
away from the well. Saza kuva construction is
2,000-3,000 mm and the whole area is densely
Pat System
Bhitada village, Jhabua district of Madhya pradesh
developed the unique pat system. This system was

Figure 2 Saza Kuva

generally taken up by a group of farmers with adjacent

landholdings; a harva, a man with special skills in
groundwater detection, helps fix the site. Water is
shared on the pro-rata basis of the size of the holding.
Protection of well and annual repairs and desiltation is
taken up collectively by all the partner farmers.
Water is lifted manually using pulley, rope and bucket
or using animal power. A traditional lifting device is
Figure 1 Pat System rehat (Persian Wheel); the sloping platform is for the

Annual Technical Volume 159

chada, in which buffaloes are used to lift water (Figure a stream or gully, to capture monsoon runoff on a
3). Water is lifted in a series of small buckets fixed on stretch of land. Submerged in water, the land becomes
an endless belt or chain moving on a vertical wheel or fertile as silt deposits on it and the soil retains
drum. Bullocks or camels walking in a circle turn the substantial amounts of water (Figure 5). These dams
are constructed in phases over several years. The
height is slowly increased up to the same height of the
checkdam, which determines the size of the naada.
A rapat is a percolation tank, with a bund to impound
rainwater flowing through a watershed and a waste
weir to dispose of the surplus flow. If the height of the
structure is small, the bund may be built of masonary,
otherwise earth is used. Rajasthan rapats, being small,
are all masonry structures. Rapats and percolation
tanks do not directly irrigate land, but recharges well
Figure 3 Rehat within a distance of 3-5 km downstream. Silting is a
serious problem with small rapats and the estimated
life of a rapat varies from 5 to 20 years.
Chandela Tank
A section of the Chandelas (Rajput families) ruled
much of the Bundelkhand region of central India
(Madhya Pradesh) for long periods between the 10th
and the 13th centuries AD. They established a network
of several hundred tanks that ensured a satisfactory
level of groundwater. These tanks were constructed by
stopping the flow of water in rivulets flowing between
hills by erecting massive earthen embankments,
Figure 4 Animal Power Used for Lifting Water having width of 60 m or more. These hills with long
stretches of quartz reefs running underneath them,
drum through a set of bevel gears and shafts, which acted as natural ground water barrier helping to trap
moves the endless belt. The revolving movement of water between the ridges. The earthen embankments
the belt rises the bucket full of water on one side, and were supported on both sides with walls of coarse
empties it when it reaches the top (Figure 4). It is stones, forming a series of stone steps.
commonly found in Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya
These tanks are made up of lime and mortar and this is
Pradesh, western Uttar Pradesh, and parts of
the reason why these tanks survived even after
thousand years but the only problem, which these
Naada/ Bandha tanks are facing, is siltation of tank beds. Chandela
tanks usually had a convex curvature somewhere in the
Naada/ bandha are found in the Mewar region of the
middle of the embankment; many older and smaller
Thar desert. It is a stone check dam, constructed across
tanks were constructed near the human settlement or
near the slopes of a cluster of hills. These tanks served
to satisfy the drinking water needs of villagers and
Bundela Tank
The Bundela Kings who came later used lime and
mortar masonry and were bordered by steps, pavilions
and royal gardens. The tanks were built close to
palaces and temples and were not originally meant for
irrigation at all, but for the use of all. Breaching of
embankments and cultivation on the tank bed has
destroyed many. But the wells in the command area of
these tanks continue to yield well and also serve to
Figure 5 Naada/ bandha recharge the groundwater.

160 Annual Technical Volume

These tanks are bigger in size as compared to Chandela groundwater recharge (Figure 7). A johad collects and
tanks. These tanks had solidly constructed steps stores water throughout the year, to be used for the
leading to water in the tank; But these structures had drinking purpose by humans and cattle. In many parts
chabootaras, pavillions and royal orchards designed to of the Rajasthan state the annual rainfall is very low
show off the glory of the king who built them. But (between 450 and 600 mm) and the water can be
these tanks are not as cost effective and simple as unpleasant to drink. Rain falling during July and
Chandela tanks. These tanks were constructed to meet August is stored in johads and used throughout the
the growing water demands in the area, maintenance of year. Johads are called as "khadins" in Jaisalmer. They
these tanks was done by the person employed by the are popularly known as tankis in most parts of the
king but in case of smaller tanks villagers collectively country. These are simple mud and rubble barriers built
removed silt and repair embankment. across the contour of a slope to arrest rainwater. These
earthen check dams are meant to catch and conserve
Talab / Bandhis
rainwater, leading to improved percolation and
Talabs are reservoirs. They may be natural, such as the groundwater recharge. They are built across a slope
ponds (pokhariyan) at Tikamgarh in the Bundelkhand with a high embankment on the three sides while the
region. They can be human-made, such the lakes in fourth side is left open for the rainwater to enter. They
Udaipur. A reservoir area of less than five bighas is are very common in the Thar desert of Rajasthan.
called a talai; a medium sized lake is called a bandhi or
Starting 1984, the last sixteen years have seen the
revival of some 3000 johads spread across more than
650 villages in Alwar district, Rajasthan. This has
resulted in a general rise of the groundwater level by
almost 6 metres and a 33 % increase in the forest cover
in the area. Five rivers that used to go dry immediately
following the monsoon have now become perennial,
such as the River Arvari, has come alive. In 1990, when
the villagers started constructing the big dam, no one
knew that the site was the origin of the river. And by
catching and percolating water, they were injecting life
Figure 6 Talab into the river (Figure 8).
talab ; bigger lakes are called sagar or samand (Figure
6). The pokhariyan serve irrigation and drinking
purposes. When the water in these reservoirs dries up
just a few days after the monsoon, the pond beds are
cultivated with rice. The Mewar region is well-known
for its built reservoirs (talabs). Udaipur City is famous
for its large number of talabs, and is called the lake city.
Johads are small earthen check dams that capture and
conserve rainwater, improving percolation and

Figure 8 Before and after water conservation

Figure 7 Johad

Annual Technical Volume 161

Appraisal of Kelia Irrigation Systems : A Boon for
Tribal Part in South Gujarat Region
Bhasker Vijaykumar Bhatt
Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering Department
Sarvajanik College of Engineering & Technology, Surat, Gujarat
For the development and promotion of irrigated agriculture in Navsari District (originally Valsad District)
located in the Southern part of Gujarat State, Kelia Reservoir Project was taken up by the Government of
Gujarat. Kelia Project was estimated to cost Rs. 616.60 Lacs as per the W. B. Appraisal Summary Report of
August 1980. Later on the Project cost estimate was revised to Rs. 971.00 Lacs. The Original CCA under Kelia
Left Bank Branch Canal was 1,273 Ha. Moreover, Right Bank Branch Canal was 937 Ha thus making the total
CCA of the project as 2,210 Ha. Fertile land, good rainfall, sufficient storage, improving marketing facilities,
development of agro-industries and progressive nature of farming community in the command area have
provided the necessary circumstances for accelerating the pace of agriculture development. On the other hand in
recent past, conveyance capacities found to be inadequate for canals to meet present and future irrigation
demands. It is due to increased irrigation intensity with growing cash crops such as sugarcane; inadequate
drainage provisions leave the consequent effects on modifications in cropping pattern and constraints in
ensuring efficient water management have imposed severe limitations on the planned development of the area.
Recently, the Government of Gujarat has attempted to review the existing cropping pattern and identify the actual
water requirement of crops in irrigation projects of Gujarat. This paper provides details on the cropping pattern
and theoretical demand of net irrigation requirement of water for various crops being cultivated in the existing
scenario. In addition to above, a brief evaluation of the water carrying capacity of canals based on proposed
cropping pattern and suggests modifications in canals system is also referred.
Keywords: Irrigation system, Kelia project, Reappraisal, Tribal area irrigation

Introduction narrow gauge line is 24 Km. away. The Kelia project

mainly serves two Taluka: Vansda and Chikhli. The
Kelia Reservoir was taken up by the Government of
beneficiaries belong to the villages of Kelia, Sukhbari,
Gujarat during the 1980s. It is a dual-purpose medium
Pipalkhed, Kansariya, Vaghbari and Vandarvela of
type of irrigation scheme serving the tribal villages in
Vansda along with Sarvani, Ambach, Kakadvela,
the South Gujarat region for assisting in the
Velanpur, Ghodvani, Dhamduma, Kanbhai, Rumla,
agricultural activities along with flood control. The
Agaasi, Dholumbar, Miyazari and Mandavkhadak
total service area (Culturable Command Area-CCA)
villages of Chikhli taluka.
under the scheme in its final stage of development as
planned was to be 2,486 Hectares (Ha.) with a total From the Census (Figure 1) from the year 1991, the
irrigation intensity of 109%. Irrigation network for
2,210 Ha. has been completed. Originally the Kelia
was designed solely to irrigate an area of 2,486 Ha. The
entire Kelia Left Bank Branch Canal – LBMC and
Right Bank Branch Canal – RBMC are lined with pre-
cast cement blocks on both the sides and cast-in-situ in
bed with polyethylene film below it. The scheme
observed maximum irrigation in the year 1999 having
irrigated 2,053 Ha.
The project envisaged construction across Kharera
River (Latitude 20°42'-0" N and Longitude 73°16'-45"
E) near Village Kelia of Taluka Vansda in the Navsari
District (Earlier Valsad District). Figure 1 SC-ST population and Agriculture activity
The nearest railway station is Unai on Wagai-Bilimora (Source: Census of India, 1991)

162 Annual Technical Volume

total population of villages of Vansda taluka was
around 13,600 whereas that of Chikhli taluka was
reported about 33,300. From above Figure, it can be
visualized that the ST population in all these villages
are more than 90% whereas the workforce under
Cultivators, and Agricultural labors are larger than
30%. In general, in India the workforce participation is
observed to be around 35% of total population. The
Kelia Water resource project acted as a boon bringing
in fortunate and prosperity among these tribal villages
of Vansda and Chikhli Taluka.
The climate is subtropical monsoon type with a
temperature suitable for year-round cropping. Daily
minimum and maximum Temperature ranges from
14.8 °C to 37.3 °C with its peak during April. The Figure 2 Kelia dam
Project area is predominantly under the influence of
the South-West monsoon with 96% of the rainfall long. The top of the dam as per revised flood hydrology
occurring from June to September with July as the works out to 118.6 Mt. The top width is 6.00 Mt. The
wettest month. The annual rainfall of the project area maximum height is 26.60 Mt. across the river Kharera
ranges from less than 1200 mm to over 2500 mm with a from the river bed level (Figure 2).
yearly average of 1200.70 mm. Inadequate
Masonry Dam with Spillway
conveyance capacities of the canal found to be failed to
meet present and future irrigation demands due to Chutes spillway is between Ch. 701.00 Mt. To 814.00
increased irrigation intensity with increasing coverage Mt. with left and a right key of 8.10 Mt. length on both
of cash crops (such as sugarcane and other perennial the sides. The crest of Chutes spillway is at R. L.
c r o p s ) . M o r e o v e r, t h e
inadequate drainage provisions Table 1 Designed Kelia Irrigation System
and their consequent effects on
cropping pattern, fewer control
structures and restrictions in
ensuring effective water
management have forced
severe limitations on the
planned development of the (Source: Sub-division office, Kelia, 2011)
112.60 Mt. A Spillway basin and chutes blocks with
For the above reasons, in recent past, the Government
dented end sill has been provided on the downstream at
of Gujarat attempted for a review of the existing
chute spillway for the dissipation of the energy. The
cropping pattern and actual water requirement of crops
F.R.L./H.F.L. is 112.60/115.10 Mt. It is a non-gated
in all the irrigation projects across the Gujarat state.
chutes spillway with 113.00 Mt. length.
Sections from now on discuss on comparative details
Head Regulators
related to planned and existing situations for the
aspects of the cropping patterns and general demand of Only one Head Regulator at Ch. 75 Mt. with twin entry
net irrigation requirement of water for various crops of size 1.20 Mt. × 1.50 Mt. is provided.
being cultivated in the existing scenario. Also, a brief
evaluation of the water carrying capacity of canals Canal and Distribution System
based on proposed cropping pattern with suggests Only one Left Bank Canal has been offered in the first
modifications in canals and structures thereof are reach up to 810 Mt. and then after Right Bank Canal of
discussed. 0.81 Km. long with a capacity of 2.07 Cumecs with
Kelia Dam Project & Systems Maximum Section as 2.50 × 1.50 Mt. is off-taking. The
distribution system including minors and sub-minors
Dam up to 8 Ha. block covers CCA of 2,480 Ha. on the either
The section for the dam is revised as per revised floods sides (Table 1). The entire canal system up to 8 Ha.
hydrology that worked out to 1,225 Cusecs, increased block is lined with pre-cast blocks on both the sides
from previous 912 Cusecs. The Earth dam is 723 Mt. and cast-in-situ in bed with polyethylene film below it.

Annual Technical Volume 163

The left Bank canal is of 8.7 Km. length. The main with distribution networks is irrigating about 2,210 Ha.
canal has 90 structures whereas distribution system in the Navsari district. The Details of original GCA &
has 960 structures. The right Bank main canal is 7.50 CCA and anticipated annual irrigation for both canals
Km. long, having a capacity of 1.10 Cumecs with are shown in Figure 3.
maximum section 2.50 Mt. × 1.50 Mt. Both the canal

Figure 3 Command area of Kelia Water Resource Project

(Source: Sub-division office, Kelia)

The Project was designed to serve the backward and Cropping Pattern
underdeveloped region of the state i.e. Vansda, The cropping pattern was expected to immerge under
Chikhali Taluka of the Navsari district. The facilities of irrigation condition, which has been adopted for
irrigation to this region are proving to be a boon to planning the irrigation system as shown in Table 2.
farmers, who were at life at the mercy of the
weather. Construction of Kelia Project in Table 2 Original Cropping Pattern
this region has obviously made a significant
impact on the social-economic life of the
agriculture community.
Soil and Topography
The soil in the command area have residual
origin derived from the Volcanic Deccan
trap rock and accurse on a ridge to valley
formation. The soil is 29.80% of the CCA
are very deep (More than 90 cm.). In 35.8 %
of the area, the soils are deep (45 to 90 cm.)
and in 34.4 % are they moderately deep
(22.5 & 45 cm.). The soil colors vary from
yellowish brown to dark brown in the
surface and subsurface. The texture of
surface soil up to 30 cm. is about 23.8 % is
fine and, in 76.2 % it is medium. The
surface & subsurface layers thus
predominantly consist of medium to fine
texture followed by weathered basaltic
material (murram).

164 Annual Technical Volume

The statement as shown in Table 3 on the cropping thus indicating the average of crops being cultivated in
pattern observed during the decade of 2001 to 2010 the command of Kelia Irrigation Project.
Table 3 Planned against existing cropping pattern in Kelia command area

The table depicts the changes (in bold letters) not only means, little-irrigated area generating more water
in the cropping pattern but also reveals the less demands; in other words, existing capacities are not
efficiently irrigated land. Against a total planned area sufficient to take care of originally planned CCA with
of 2,574.24 Ha., at present only about 60% area is ongoing practices. According to IBRD
being irrigated. The farmers are practicing a recommendations, fortnightly crop water requirements
completely modified cropping pattern, and the same are estimated by the Modified Penmen Method (FAO
may result in the decreased area under cropping. It is publication no. 24, revised 1977). These compare
observed that almost 50% of cropping pattern has
revised that include the introduction Table 4 Proposed Cropping Pattern for Kelia Project
of Sugarcane and banana that require
regular watering round the year.
A revision in the planned allocation of
water along with modernization of
canal system may be anticipated
shortly to keep the tribal area involved
in agricultural activities else these
areas will be forced to turn up into
urbanization, creating demand on
other resources at large becoming
consumers instead of producers.
Table 4 suggests on constant
switching over rather a reduction in
CCA from initial 103% to 60% and
now, based on current cropping
practices, another reduction to 56%. It

Annual Technical Volume 165

favorably with the experimental results obtained by percolation loss below the root zone of the crops due to
the Agriculture University, Navsari. IMD stations at the soil characteristics. The irrigation system passes
Surat record agro-meteorological data that may be through mainly areas with murram that have a high
used for crop water requirement. Recorded data used coefficient of permeability. However, the reaches
are (1) maximum and minimum temperature, (2) where the seepage losses are excessive, the canals
maximum, minimum, and relative humidity, (3) wind should be lined. So far there has been constructed
speed and (4) sunshine hours/ cloud cover. For crop lining works through precast concrete blocks on the
water requirements for Kelia System, data of IMD side slopes in the branch canal where expected seepage
station at Surat may be considered. The fortnightly losses as envisaged to be high. Also, some
crop water requirements may be worked out improvement in the field channels has also been
considering the above aspects and proposed new observed with the Participatory Irrigation
cropping pattern and accordingly, the canal system Management (PIM) which in turn improves the
revision shall be proposed. efficiency of the entire system to some extent. At
present, the irrigation efficiency is envisaged to be
Irrigation Efficiencies
around 49% whereas for the future needs the efficiency
Low irrigation efficiency observed at Kelia Irrigation needs to be increased to 63% to cater the irrigation
System is due to seepage loss (through the joints of water requirements for the present and proposed
precast blocks in the sides of canal section) for the cropping pattern. The discharge discussed hereafter is
conveyance of water field application loss and deep based on the revised cropping pattern and anticipated
Table 5 Water requirement based on proposed cropping pattern

166 Annual Technical Volume

improved efficiencies of the canal carrying capacities partly lining works reducing percolation losses and
Figure 5 shows the water requirement based on the improvement of canal structures as a way of reducing
cropping pattern. afflux and improving system efficiency at field level.
Canal Capacities Following is a computed statement for maximum
discharge requirements based on actual cropping
Presently, the K.L.B.B.C. is found to carry the design pattern and for the proposed cropping pattern.
discharges without encroaching on the free board. The
conveyance capacity of the canal in the Kelia project So far as the water availability is concerned, the Live
command to meet the peak demands of irrigation are Storage of the project is 17.35 MCM, which is not
not required to be increased to the irrigation demand in required to be modified to catch the other flood waters
different months; however some improvement is for utilization considering the proposed cropping
proposed. The water carrying capacity of canal system pattern and improved conveyance efficiencies. Tables
needs to be modified as the system is already carrying 6 & 7 show the revised discharge requirements based
47.07 Cusecs of Discharge at present instead of the on the proposed cropping pattern and improved
designed discharge of 59.14 Cusecs (2.07 Cumecs) as conveyance efficiencies.
planned. Conclusion
Based on the proposed cropping pattern it is envisaged The Kelia water resource project is serving villagers of
that the capacity of Main Canal needs no modifications the tribal region as an important aid for cultivation and
as it can cater 59.14 Cusecs to compared to required agricultural activities. The soils derived from the
47.07 Cusecs in anticipated improved condition (for volcanic Deccan trap and the terrain result in a high
irrigation purpose). However, the modification is not rate of surface run-off. Over the years, the changes in
proposed in the systems of Kelia Project Canal System cropping pattern have affected the irrigable area and
and also in some of the distributaries wherein the efficiency of the irrigation system. Water demands
modification is proposed to cater the required have increased against a reduction in CCA with a
irrigation water carriage. In the sub-systems of Kelia change of crop types. Up to an extent through PIM,
Branch Canal, individual increased water carriage customized discharge from canals may help the sector.
requirement shall be achieved by various means as of Based on observed changes in cropping pattern, a
full lining works, further implementation of PIM and

Table 6 Revised Discharges in Systems of Left Bank Branch Canal

Annual Technical Volume 167

Table 7: Revised Discharges in Systems of Right Bank Branch Canal

168 Annual Technical Volume

proposed cropping pattern so that there is no need for the Irrigation Department officers of State
increasing the canal carrying capacities but to improve Government of Gujarat. The author thanks, Dr.
the efficiency to avoid further reduction in the Vaishali Mungurwadi, Principal at Sarvajanik College
cultivable command area. The efficiency may be of Engineering & Technology, Surat for all the support
enhanced by ascertaining remedial measures as to in academic tasks and providing constant motivation
reduce percolation losses, improving cross drainage for pursuing excellence.
works reducing afflux and so on. The dam with a live
storage capacity of 17.35 MCM can take care of
existing practices. However, a revision may be needed 1. Census of India, 1991.
in near future to maintain the cultivation and
2. Detailed project report on "Reappraisal of
agricultural practices for adhering to originally
irrigation potential and canal capacity based on
planned CCA of 103.80% in 2,486 Ha. of the area. A
irrigation achieved in past ten years – Systems of
question remains unanswered, whether to continue
Kelia Irrigation Project"; Jujh Project Division,
with cash crops in existing situation of reduced
Vansda, Ukai Circle, Gujarat; June 2011.
irrigation efficiencies or to go for a complete new
system design to promote wealth through cash crop 3. Website of Narmada, Water Resources, Water
cultivation support. Supply and Kalpasar Department (Government of
Gujarat) referred on date 23-10-2015. (http://guj-
n w r w s . g u j a r a t . g o v. i n / s h o w p a g e . a s p x ?
The author expresses a deep sense of appreciation to contentid=1761&lang=english)

Annual Technical Volume 169

Conventional and Modern Irrigation System of
S. K. Shah
Assistant Research Scientist (Soil Science)
Main Castor Mustard Research Station, S.D. Agricultural University, Sardarkrushinagar, Gujarat

Introduction is needed, this shows the importance of irrigation in

Gujarat. The state has about 96 lakh hectares under
Irrigation is an important resource for agriculture
cultivation and about 65 lakh hectares under estimated
hence plays an important role in the socio-economic
irrigation potential through surface and groundwater
development, poverty alleviation, employment
sources. This indicates that through proper water
generation, creating raw material for many industries,
resource development planning about 68% of the net
etc. Therefore, agriculture play a vital role in the GDP
cultivated area could be brought under irrigation.
of nation, and it is evidenced that irrigated area
There is greater scope for surface irrigation in the state.
produces most of the grains required to feed a large
Groundwater resources are relatively limited and some
population of than the rainfed area. Government has
of these are almost fully exploited to the point of
invested a large amount of money in creating irrigation
ecological degradation. There is an urgent need to curb
facilities. According to the Economic survey of
the over exploitation of groundwater and the only
Government of India, irrigation potential has grown
alternative is to harvest maximum rain water through
from 22.6 million hectares in 1950 to 94.7 million
different techniques like check dams, percolation
hectares in 2000.
tanks, percolation wells, direct well recharge and
Status of Irrigation in Gujarat measures of water conservation etc.
Gujarat has only 30% area under irrigation but it Various Irrigation Techniques of Gujarat
contributes 70% of total agriculture production. The
Irrigation water application to crops include various
average annual rainfall in Gujarat is 840mm, but it is
methods including flooding the field surface, sub-
highly erratic varying from 525mm to 1070mm during
surface irrigation, spraying under pressure, or
the last two decades. Within the state the rainfall varies
applying in drops. Water supply, soil type, topography,
from 1350 mm in south Gujarat to about 270 mm in the
and the crop define the appropriate irrigation methods.
Kutch region. In Saurashtra and Kutch regions annual
A detailed representation is show in Figure 1.
rainfall is most erratic and varies from 300mm to 660
mm. Therefore these regions face acute water scarcity. Surface Irrigation Methods
The average annual rainfall in the eastern hilly region
In this method water is directly applied to soil surface
of Gujarat varies from 870 mm to 1700 mm. This
from a channel located at upper reach of the field.
region receives good rainfall but due to the rocky
Water distribution can be done through border strips,
terrain rain water does not percolate and flows away to
check basins or furrows. To obtain high efficiency in
the sea. In general, rainfall is confined to only four
this method are properly constructed water
months from June to September and the rainy days
distribution networks and adequate land preparation to
number between 10 in Kutch and 50 in south Gujarat.
ensure uniform water distribution over fields.
There shows unequal distribution of rainfall during the
season. Sometimes 40-50 % rain falls only in 7-8 days. Traditional Irrigation Methods
High rainfall in small number of days does not provide
However, in different regions system for irrigation
enough time for water to percolate. Therefore, major
adopted by farmers are presented in Table 1.
portion of rain water flows into the sea. There are also
Traditional irrigation System of Gujarat is Kuhl
chances of high soil erosion.
System of Irrigation. Kuhl is a century old traditional
In Gujarat, especially rainfed farmers experienced that community irrigation system of Gujarat. Kuhl is
some times after sowing, due to the long dry spell, managed and operated by Kohli (water tender) on
germinated seeds do not grow and the crop fails. In this behalf of the water users. The Kohli's post is
situation support irrigation becomes a lifeline for hereditary. For rendering services he is paid in kind. At
farmers. So even for kharif crops protection irrigation the harvest he is given equal amount of grain to the

170 Annual Technical Volume

Figure 1 Various water application methods
Table 1 Ecological region and system for traditional irrigation adopted

weight of the seed sown. The Kohli's role is on the quantity of water to be allocated to each
multifunctional. He is in charge of rebuilding the dams irrigator.
each spring and coordinates and administers the
Irrigation water application to the field also varied
distribution of water as well as other social and
from location to location and to the need of farmers.
political aspects of the system. The community
Some of the important water application methods are
irrigation system involves construction of temporary
described in Table 2.
headwall in the gorge to divert water through a canal to
the fields. At the beginning of the season the work is It is observed that various type of flood method of
started. Waters flows continuously from one field to irrigation is commonly and traditionally followed are
another since the fields are sloped and finally drains liable to loss of water conveyance, distribution and
into the gorge downstream. If a person remains absent evaporation. Therefore, about 30-40 % of applied
without valid reason during the construction of the water is being utilized by the crop rest is leached out;
headwall, he is denied water for the season as a evaporated, or lost through surface run off.
punishment. During days of scarcity the Kohli decides

Annual Technical Volume 171

Table 2 Various surface water application methods

In modern farming of Gujarat, Micro Irrigation System The comparison of Sprinkler and Drip Irrigation on
(MIS) is well adopted by the farmers. In MIS, field is different use aspects are presented in Table 5.
irrigated in the close vicinity of root zone of crop. It
reduces water loss occurring through evaporation, Crop-wise water saving over surface irrigation method
conveyance and distribution. Therefore high water use and increase in yield is presented in table (Table 6).
efficiency can be achieved (Table 3). The unirrigated
rainfed cropped area, could be irrigated with the water Changes in Cropping Pattern and Cropping
saved with this technology become a potential source Intensity
of food production for the benefit of country's food
security. Before the inception of the irrigation facility, farmers
were largely dependent on rainfed farming (Aakashi
MIS is the best available way to utilize water and Kheti) and were taking only one crop in a year. Farmers
fertilizer efficiently under farm conditions. The type of were growing only local varieties of rain-fed crops like
MIS may very with the type of crop selected and rice, groundnut, jowar and cotton. With the residual
amount of water available for irrigation (Table 4). moisture some of them were taking pulses in the rabi
Since MIS is a well planned and scientifically designed season. After the introduction of the different irrigation
way of farming, it also provides option for Crop schemes, there has been a marked shift in the cropping
diversification. Unlike surface irrigation, drip pattern as well as the cropping intensity in the area.
irrigation is more suitable and economical if it is They started taking upto three crops in a year and this
introduced in water scarce areas having undulated has largely been made possible due to the increased
topography, shallow and sandy soils barren and for availability of water in the non-monsoon months. With
wide spaced high value crops. It reduces cost of the arrival of irrigation, farmers initially went for
cultivation, increases productivity and reduces energy improved varieties cash or commercial crops. Their
(electricity) consumption.
Table 3 Irrigation efficiency under different methods of irrigation

172 Annual Technical Volume

Table 4 Crop group wise advisable Micro Irrigation System

Table 5 Sprinkler and Drip Irrigation

way of farming changed largely. However within the lift irrigation, farmers started growing vegetables,
subsequent 3-4 years, most farmers shifted to most particularly a variety of French beans (locally called
economic crop based on their local experience and papadi) which is a delicacy for Gujaratis. The assured
market demand, for instance in South Gujarat, farmers irrigation has helped in increasing farmers income to a
adopted Sugarcane cultivation due to support of deep great extent that is upto 4 times. All this impacted on
extension work and credit support by the sugar the life style of farmer, food intake, nutrition pattern
cooperatives. In Bharuch district, after introduction of and social status of farmers.

Annual Technical Volume 173

Table 6: Crop-wise water saving and increase in yield

Promotion of adoption of Micro Irrigation System Efforts should be made to ensure the production
in India and supply of good quality MIS components to
the farmers by enforcing strict quality control
l intervention is required to cut measures and the manufacturers should also
down the cost of Micro-irrigation system. guide the farmers in adopting suitable
agronomic practices.
l should be made an integral part of all
irrigation projects and common efforts taken by After sales service should be strengthen.
the Government / NGO and the MIS companies.

174 Annual Technical Volume

System and Present Scenario of Irrigation in
Vijay Sadashiv Ghogare
Chairman, The Institution of Engineers (India), Pune Local Centre

Pre Independence System of Irrigation private users. Construction of reservoirs upstream

Management in Maharashtra marred the initiative of the people. Another example of
the traditional system was provided by Malgujari tanks
Practice of irrigation has been in existence since time
in Chandrapur and Bhandara districts of Vidarbha
immemorial. Large and small storage tanks have been
region. These tanks were operated and maintained by a
used for irrigation since ancient times. Lifting of water
committee of eight to ten farmers. Later on these tanks
or diverting the same from small streams and rivers
were acquired by the government after which the
was also practiced in old period. In the Western
earlier system came to an end. After that Irrigation
Maharashtra, the first large irrigation work was
development and management activities are being
constructed in the year 1870 across Krishna river
carried out by the Government. After independence
popularly known as Khodshi weir near Karad and the
and after formation of state of Maharashtra; the
system is known as Krishna canal system. Similarly
development in irrigation sector and its management is
first large storage work was constructed in 1885 across
governed by the recommendations of 1st and 2nd
Mutha river known as Khadakwasla Storage
Maharashtra State Irrigation Commissions formulated
Reservoir. Thereafter, the storage works at Bhatghar,
by Government of Maharashtra.
Chankapur, Darna & Bhandardara were constructed in
the British Regime. Some small tanks were Necessity of Development of Irrigation Facilities
constructed in Vidarbha Region near Ramtek,
The basic objective of irrigation development has been
Ghorajhari, Asola Mendha and Naleshwar. The PHAD
to effect substantial increase in agricultural
System on weirs across Panzara and Mosam Rivers in
productivity leading thereby to prosperity of rural area.
Tapi Basin or thousands of irrigation tanks belonging
The Government has been focusing on development of
to Gond Era in Wainganga Basin are still in existence.
irrigation facilities since independence. With this view
Maharashtra is one of the states where farmers' Government has taken many policy decisions.
participation in irrigation management had been going
Agriculture is the main business of rural area. So if
on for more than two hundred years. Farmers managed
proper irrigation facility is provided; it is possible to
irrigation system could be divided in two broad groups
take at least 2 season crops and if water availability is
I) Traditional and II) Non-Traditional System.
more then it is possible to take perennial cash crops.
Traditional system known as Phad system consisted of
those constructed, funded and maintained by the As per the irrigation commissions report, out of total
farmers on their own initiative prior to independence. geographical area of state 225 lakh ha area is
This system entailed dividing the entire command in a cultivable. But using all the sources of water such as
number of blocks known as PHADs followed surface and ground water; ultimate irrigation potential
traditionally in Nasik and Dhule districts. Under this that can be brought under irrigation is 126 lakh ha. Out
scheme bandharas (weir) were constructed across the of that 85 lakh ha from surface water by State and local
river to divert the flow of river to canals. The command sector works and 41 lakh ha from ground water.
area of each phad varied between 8 and 480 hectare.
Present Scenario of Water Sector in Maharashtra
The system was entirely managed by farmers
themselves for operation and maintenance of head Maharashtra is the third largest State in Union of India
work and sluice gate. The system was useful up to a considering population as well as area. The population
point of time when reservoirs on the upstream of the of the state is about 112 million. Nearly 58% of
rivulets were not constructed and constant flow in population lives in rural area which depends largely on
rivulets was maintained. This system which was in agriculture for their livelihood. Geographical area of
operation for more than 200 years gradually lost its State is 30.7 Million ha. Out of which cultivable area is
importance and the system started declining due to 22.5 Million ha. The rainfall varies from 400mm to
upstream water withdrawals by Government as well as 6000 mm. Entire state is traversed by five river basins

Annual Technical Volume 175

viz. Krishna, Godavari, Tapi, Narmada, and West through local sector and ZP having ICA<250
Flowing rivers in Konkan region. Annual average ha.
available yield for entire Maharashtra state drained by
So in total Maharashtra state has created
above river basins is to the tune of 163820Mm3 (5785
irrigation potential of 64.70 lakh ha.
TMC). The geographical area of Maharashtra has been
divided into 35districts & 358 Talukas for ü
The highly variable rainfall in Maharashtra
administrative purposes. The agriculture suffers due to ranging from 400 to 6000mm occurs in 4
vagaries of monsoon. Nearly 148 Talukas are drought months period.
prone. The Water and Irrigation Commission
No. of rainy days varying from 40 to 100 days.
appointed by GoM has estimated the water resources
of the State and has assessed the ultimate irrigation ü
58% of average annual availability is found in 4
potential through flow irrigation at 85 lakh ha which major river basins(Krishna, Godavari, Tapi &
can be increased to 126 lakh ha by using advanced Narmada).
irrigation techniques, watershed development and
These 4 river basins comprises of 92% of the
improving water distribution system.
cultivable land & 75% of the people living in
The geographical area of the state is 307 Lakh the rural settlements and fast growing town &
ha. industrial area.
Cultivable area is 225 Lakh ha. (73%GA). Out Surface and Ground water availability as per the
of this 40% area is drought prone. About 7% 2nd Irrigation Commission
area is flood prone.
The Second Irrigation commission has arrived for the
Ultimate irrigation potential of Maharashtra total surface and ground water availability in all basins
state by all methods is 126 Lakh ha. means 56 of Maharashtra state. The details of that are furnished
% of the area can be ultimately brought under in Table 1.
irrigation. (126/225 x 100 = 56%).
By considering the total surface water availability and
Presently 48.46 lakh ha. potential is created ground water availability and its conjunctive use;
through state sector projects having ICA>250 commission has arrived for the ultimate irrigation
ha. and 16.24 lakh ha. potential is created potential of state using surface and ground water.

Table 1 Basin Wise Average Annual Availability of water resources, Mm3

Table 2 Surface water potential

176 Annual Technical Volume

Ultimate Irrigation Potential of Maharashtra brought under irrigation through groundwater is 41
A) Surface Water Potential
Out of this, 1 lakh ha area is catered through
Table 2 shows the potential of surface water at various
groundwater from project commands and the
remaining outside (It is inference-based. Presently this
B) Groundwater potential statistics lacks corroboration from field observations.
No method of precisely delineating the irrigation area
Table 3 shows the potential of ground water available
catered through groundwater is yet evolved.)
at different parts of the State. Total area in Maharashtra
Table 3 Ground water potential

Table 4 District wise details of Irrigation potentials and storages planned and created

Annual Technical Volume 177

178 Annual Technical Volume
Annual Technical Volume 179
180 Annual Technical Volume
The figures as shown in Table 4 are of only State Water
l consumed by the farmer who has not
sector projects having Irrigation potential more furnished his water requirement
than 250 Ha.
l of crops sown by the farmers vis-
And presently 69781 Local sector projects and à-vis water requirement.
ZP projects (irrigation potential between 0 to 250
Above two incidents happen frequently and can only
Ha.) are completed and have created irrigation
be accounted for during verification, and auditing on
potential to the tune of 16.24 lakh ha. 8471 Local
post-facto basis. However, due to this unscrupulous
sector projects and ZP projects are ongoing and
practice, some genuine farmers suffer the loss, which
will create 1.97 lakh ha. irrigation potential.
may be to the extent of non availability of water during
So Maharashtra state has created total irrigation scarcity period. Manual interference should be limited
potential of 64.70 lakh ha. by using modern technologies like use of remotely
sensed imagery for determination of crop type and
Status of O&M Cost incurred in irrigation
crop area. If one views the existing tariff structure,
management and Water Tariff Recovery
there are 66 different water rates for canal flow type
The following table shows how much amount has been irrigation based on different crop types and seasons.
spend towards O&M of irrigation system during year Such an exhaustive tariff schedule gives space for
2002-03 to 2011-12 and recovery of water tariff during manipulation. The tariff structure should be simple,
this period and its percentage with O&M cost. concise and easy to administer.
Table 5 clearly shows that Government of Ways to Improve the Water Tariff Collection
Maharashtra has fully recovered its O&M cost through
l for irrigation requirements to be made
water tariff.
through volumetric measurements.
Present Method of Irrigation Management where
l for irrigation use to be supplied to
WUAs are not Formed
individual farmers through Water Users
Present method of water allocation to the irrigation Associations only.
system has certain lacunae. Water requirement of the
All irrigation
l management activities beyond
individual farmers is collected through 'Patkari' at
minor distributaries like O&M activities, water
minor level, and finally it goes to the higher authorities
distribution, and water tariff levy and recovery to
for preparation of Preliminary Irrigation Program
be handed over to WUAs.
(PIP). Patkari collects the water demand only of those
farmers who give their entitlement on ex-ante basis. Canal
l officers should be given the powers to
This type of demand collection procedure leads to disconnect water supply to WUAs who have
following two problems during the PIP water tariff arrears pending.
implementation period:
It was
l observed that area adjacent to the

Table 5 Operational and maintenance cost for irrigation management system in Maharashtra

Annual Technical Volume 181

command area of the project was also benefitting Under this Act, the Authority has been given powers to
from the irrigation project (by virtue of water determine the entitlements of various water users as
leakage and percolation). The same should be well as tariffs applicable to bulk water supplies in the
verified and appropriate water tariffs need to be State and to sanction irrigation projects in accordance
levied. with state water plan, directive principles laid down by
the Governor of Maharashtra
Legal Frame Work for Irrigation Development and
Management in Maharashtra MMISF Act, 2005
In order to develop and manage irrigation facilities, it State Government of Maharashtra has enacted
is essential to have strong understanding of the legal Maharashtra Management of Irrigation System by
and regulatory framework governing the sector as this Farmers Act 2005 as per the guidelines given in state
framework defines the boundary within which the water policy for participatory irrigation management
Regulator has to operate. Regulatory framework and volumetric supply of water to all consumers. Key
assumes higher significance in sectors where either Features of MMISF Act 2005 are as follows:
market does not exist or markets are not competitive. It MMISF
l has various innovative provisions to
assumes even higher significance in the water sector strengthen the Participatory irrigation
due to its linkages with day to day survival of all management initiative.
human beings.
l enactment laid down simple and
The objective is to present legal and regulatory easy procedure for formation of WUAs.
provisions currently applicable to the water sector in
Maharashtra so as to develop a strong foundation for The registration
l of society will be done by the
development and management of irrigation systems, Water Resources Department itself.
based on important provisions in the most recent and
l for irrigation shall be supplied to WUAs
the most relevant Acts, i.e., MWRRA Act 2005and
MMISF Act 2005 followed by provisions in other Acts
such as Irrigation Development Corporations Act, All landholders or leaseholders must be member
1996, 1997 and 1998, Maharashtra Irrigation Act of WUAs.
1976,MunicipalCorporation Act, 1949,Bombay Canal
Rules, 1934andalso relevant provisions in the National Water will be supplied on volumetric basis.

Water Policy, State Water Policy. WUAs have freedom of cropping pattern.

Maharashtra Irrigation Act, 1976 Adequate

l representation to tail enders and
Maharashtra Act XXXVIII of 1976 known as women members is provided in the Management
committee of WUA.
Maharashtra Irrigation Act, 1976 was enacted on
August 5, 1976 in order to unify and amend the law Time
l bound programme of completion of
relating to irrigation in the State of Maharashtra and to rehabilitation works before transfer to WUAs.
provide water rates for lands under the irrigable
command of canals and matters connected there with. Enactments for Establishment of Irrigation
It may be noted that while some of the provisions of Development Corporations
this Act have been repealed under Section 77 of With a view to accelerate the completion of irrigation
MMISF Act for areas under management of Water projects and to manage the water resources in the five
User Associations, these provisions continue to apply river basins of Maharashtra, GoM established five
to areas which are not under management of WUAs. Irrigation Development Corporations (IDCs) in the
These provisions assume importance from the State of Maharashtra. These five corporations were
perspective of MWRRA as it is expected to take into formed under the provision of the Corporation Acts
account these provisions while developing bulk water enacted in the latter half of 1990s as mentioned below.
tariffs in the State.
l Krishna Valley Development
MWRRA Act, 2005 Corporation Act, 1996 (MKVDC Act,1996)
The Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Vidarbha
l Irrigation Development Corporation
Authority (MWRRA) has been set up under the Act, 1997 (VIDC Act, 1997)
provisions of Maharashtra Act No. XVIII of 2005
called as Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Tapi
l Irrigation Development Corporation Act,
Authority Act, 2005. This Act provides the functions 1997 (TIDC Act, 1997)
and powers of the Authority with respect to various Konkan
l Irrigation Development Corporation
issues associated with the water sector in Maharashtra. Act, 1997 (KIDC Act, 1997)

182 Annual Technical Volume

l Marathwada Irrigation Development Ø
Water conservation works, and Catchment area
Corporation Act, 1998(GMIDC Act, 1998) treatment programs will be undertaken for
mitigation of drought.
The objective of the above Acts is to make special
provisions for promotion and operation of irrigation Water Sector Reform Initiatives Undertaken by the
projects, command area development and schemes for State in Irrigation Sector
generation of hydro-electric energy and other The Government of Maharashtra has undertaken a
incidental activities. One of the major objectives of the number of bold and path breaking water sector reform
Irrigation Development Corporation is to plan, Initiatives, in the last 10 years to involve public
investigate, design construct and manage the irrigation participation in water management sector, many of
project and command area development in the which are for the first time in India and in fact in South
respective river basins. Broadly, all the five Irrigation Asia and major part of the world. These include:
Corporations Acts have similar tariff related
provisions. Policy Reforms
Maharashtra State Water Policy 2003 State of Maharashtra has formulated its State Water
Policy in year 2003. Main features of this policy are
The State Government of Maharashtra has adopted Integrated and multi-sectoral approach in planning,
State Water Policy in the year 2003. The objectives of development & management of water resources.
the Maharashtra State Water Policy (MSWP) is to
ensure the sustainable development and optimal use Ø
Transfer of water management responsibilities to
and management of the State's water resources to legally empowered Water Users Associations
provide the greatest economic and social benefits for (WUAs) Determination and administration of
the people of the State of Maharashtra in a manner that water entitlements to water users.
maintains important ecological values within rivers Ø
Rationalization of water charges& charging on
and adjoining lands. The key features of the state water bulk/volumetric basis Establishment of legal
policy are: frame work The state has passed the following 2
Integrated, multi sectoral approach towards major legislation:
irrigation development. Maharashtra
l Water Resources Regulatory
River basin is considered as unit in development Authority (MWRRA) Act 2005, enabling
of irrigation, flood management and drought establishment of Maharashtra Water
management. Resources Regulatory Authority in
Preparation of Integrated State Water Plan for
planning irrigation projects in the basin. Maharashtra
l Management of Irrigation
Systems by Farmers (MMISF) Act 2005,
formation of Maharashtra Water Resources enabling formation of legally empowered
Regulatory Authority for regulation of basin wise WUAs in irrigation scheme and transfer of
irrigation development works, water entitlements irrigation system management
and deciding water tariff for all users. responsibilities to WUAs.
Involvement of all the stake holders in irrigation Institutional Reforms
Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority
Participatory irrigation management through (MWRRA) was formed in September 2005, The key
Maharashtra Management of Irrigation System functions of the Authority are:
by Farmers. To regulate water resources within the State as per
Priority of water use is finalized such as for State Water Policy.
drinking, irrigation, industrial, hydro power To give
l concurrence to the irrigation projects as
generation and other uses such as navigation, per the Integrated State water Plan as prepared by
fishing etc. State Water Board (Section 15) and approved by
Public private partnership concept is introduced. State Water Council (Section 16).
Water quality will be given importance. To follow
l Directives of the Governor of
Maharashtra [Section11(f) and Section 21]
Publishing Irrigation Status Report,
Benchmarking report and Water Audit reports To follow
l Directives of the State Govt.(Sec.23)
annually. To facilitate & ensure judicious, equitable and

Annual Technical Volume 183

sustainable management, allocation and Ø
An Irrigation potential of 48.46 lakh ha. has been
utilization of water resources to fix the rates for created ( through state sector projects only having
use of water for various purposes. ICA more than 250 Ha,).
To determine,
l issue, enforce and monitor Water Ø
Apart from this, 15.56 lakh ha of Irrigation
Use. Potential is created on projects below Irrigation
Entitlements fixing the water quota principles.
l Potential of 250 Ha which are with Rural
Development and Water Conservation
l land holder in the command area shall be
given water quota.
The State has corporatized the irrigation sector
l quota shall be fixed on the basis of land in
the command area. and construction of irrigation projects is being
carried out through five irrigation development
l quota adequate to irrigate at least one acre Corporations set up in the State.
of land during scarcity shall be given to each land
holder. Ø
First State in India to constitute Water Resources
Regulatory Authority for regulation of water
In order to share the distress in the river basin, the
percentage of utilizable water including kharif
use, shall for all reservoirs approximately be the Ø
Formation of 3110 Water User association under
same. Maharashtra Management of Irrigation Systems
by Farmers (MMISF) Act, which covers 1.09
l /Sprinkler shall be made compulsory for
Million ha area.
crops like sugarcane in water deficit project.
To determine,
l regulate and enforce the Ø
Formation of 1559 Water User association under
distribution of water entitlements for various co-operative act which covers 0.675 Million ha.
category of uses at basin /projects levels. area.
To regulate seasonal / annual water entitlements.
l Ø
Maharashtra Water Sector Improvement Project
has commissioned with the help of World Bank
To establish
l and regulate water tariff system for for rehabilitation of 286 completed irrigation
various uses of water with the view to ensure full
project to stabiles 0.67Million ha of command
operation and maintenance needs of irrigation /
water utilities.
Adoption of New Management Practices Ø
Publication of Irrigation Status Report, Water
audit Report and Benchmarking Report annually.
For efficient use of water and optimum use of
water distribution system, state of Maharashtra Ø
By looking at irrigation Status report published
has adopted following new management by Government of Maharashtra, it can be seen
practices which are recognized worldwide. that during year 2002-03 to 2011-12, GoM spend
Rs. 5188 Crore towards Operation and
Management, including O&M of irrigation Maintenance (O&M) works of irrigation systems
systems by elected Water User Association and recovered Rs. 5579 Crore in the form of water
(WUA) Charging of water tariff on volumetric/ tariff. This means State has fully recovered its
bulk basis.
O&M cost through water tariff.
Publishing annual water audit report for each
The State can boost of it's capacity building
irrigation/ multipurpose project.
through establishment of National Level
Benchmarking of irrigation / multipurpose institutes Like Maharashtra Engineering
project. Research Institute, Central Designs
Promotion of new technology with Integrated Organization, Water and Land Management
Computerized information Systems(ICIS). Institute, Mechanical Organization &
Hydroelectric wing and independent Quality
Major Achievements in the Water Sector by the
Control Organisation.
Table 6 shows the major dams available in
Storage Created in Dams is 33917 Mm3 (1198
TMC). Maharashtra with its different storage capacity.

184 Annual Technical Volume

Table 6 Information of Major Dams in Maharashtra showing their ICA, IP & live storages planned

Annual Technical Volume 185

186 Annual Technical Volume
Annual Technical Volume 187
References 3) Irrigation Status Report.
1) E Jalseva website. 4) Maharashtra Water Irrigation Commission
(Chitale Commossion) Report 1999.
2) Report of Local Sector Projects from Website.

188 Annual Technical Volume

Traditional Irrigation Systems in Maharashtra
P. Jayakumar
Civil Engineering Construction and Contracts Management Consultant, Mumbai

PHAD Irrigation System on North-Western, of the PHAD and the distance of water travelled from
Vidarba & Kandesh Region of Maharastra the site selected for the diversion of water through the
weir. The reason for the variation of size and length of
The PHAD irrigation system is the traditional
the canal was to maintain the velocity of water so that
irrigation system adopted by the community of farmers
the water could flow at its own gravity till it reached the
in parts of Maharashtra since olden times. The actual
main command area or the THAL.
age of the PHAD irrigation system is disputed. While it
is conjectured by many eminent researchers that The term PHAD here refers to the block of land used
PHAD irrigation may be 300-400 years old, while for irrigation purposes while BANDHARA refers to
some research on PHAD has mentioned Bandharas, the weir. A collection of PHADs (of 8 to 40 ha each) is
i.e. PHAD, prevalent as early as 1409 AD. The river known as a THAL, and can cover an area upto 400 ha.
Panzara in the Sahyadri range on which the PHAD A PHAD comprises of a number of fields owned by
systems were rampant has a steep gradient and flows several cultivators, and receives water from the
through rocky beds, a topographical feature conducive BANDHARA diverted through the canal, also known
to construction of diversion weirs. The monsoon rains as pat. The canal has field distributaries called
contribute to the runoff apart from the existence of a assarang, while the excess water was drained back into
significant post-monsoon flow that can keep the main stream through sandwa or the surplus weir.
substantial irrigation going in winter as well as in the The management of the PHAD system is under the
summer seasons. This provides the context for chairmanship of the Bhagayat committee (farmers /
building a series of BANDHARAs, or low water irrigators' committee) consisting of elected members
diversion weirs, between one to five metres high of from the irrigators. The number of members in the
stone and masonry, across these streams to divert committee varies from committee to committee. The
waters for agricultural use. membership is not permanent, and usually lasts for 2 to
4 years at a time, but can be changed in between
The water level in the stream is raised by the
depending upon the interest of its members.
BANDHARA to feed the off-taking canal and to pass
the excess supply to downstream over the top of the Hereditary positions like hawaldar (supervisor) and
BANDHARA crest as overflow to the downstream. In jakleya (watchman) are involved in maintaining the
the PHAD system, the supply to the canal(s) is canal system. Patkaris (waterman) oversee the water
regulated by a head regulator. The canals vary in length distribution process by operating the field gates (sasar)
from a few hundred metres to seven kilometers. and the jerai mali community, and some other
BANDHARAs are constructed in a series to along the communities, are involved in the construction. People
river to store water for feeding to canals of PHAD used to contribute towards the construction of the
system. The availability of a command area at each structure and these watermen used to get paid by these
BANDHARA site, is also kept in mind. means.
The process of selecting the site for building the Elaborate rules for irrigation exist wherein water is
structure is carried out taking into consideration the supplied to the second PHAD only after supplying
base gradient of the river and the slope of the command adequate water to the first PHAD. There were no
area. Scouring sluices are provided at different places written rules in place and decisions were made on the
as per the length of the canal. This works as an basis of experience. Water meetings are held at the
automated cleaning device for the drainage of sand and village level where the cropping pattern was decided
silt. The average water discharge from the canal is 7-10 based on previous years' patterns. The process of
cusecs. The head of the canal has no provision of a gate; mobilizing the village farmers for the meeting is
the saucer and the scouring sluices present between the normally done through a key person of the village, who
diversion weir and the head of the canal regulates the is often called a Kotwal.
water flow. The length and size of the canals varies
Numerous such PHAD systems exist in Vidharbha
amongst the BANDHARAs depending upon the size
today and are in use. Some have been repaired and

Annual Technical Volume 189

modernized by the Irrigation Department by providing Traditional Irrigation in Coastal Region of
iron gates at the scouring sluices or by raising the Maharashtra
height of the BANDHARAs. A uniform cropping
The Konkan region of Maharashtra had also adopted
pattern is usually followed within the PHAD in a
diversion based irrigation system by construction of
season, but it could vary across PHADs and over the
bunds (bandhini) and water courses (pats). The
years. Paddy is the most common crop under the
lowlying land in coastal Konkan was protected from
PHAD system in the Panzara river; other crops like
saline water ingress by field embankments (shilotris).
maize, bajra and wheat have also been introduced now.
The Konkan region of Maharashtra is a narrow belt of
Because all farmers have some share of land in the
land which lies to the west of Sahyadri range, and is
main PHAD, an equitable system of water distribution
characterized by high humidity and heavy rainfall and
is maintained.
has fertile alluvial soils in the lowland regions and the
Despite of elaborate managerial system governing the same is used for cultivation of rice. These soils are
'PHAD' irrigation in North Western Maharashtra, the free-of-salt as the fields are often embanked (bandhini)
'PHAD irrigation' had deteriorated over the years and flooded during the monsoon. Wells, lakes and
owing to direct suppression by the colonial reservoirs also were important source for irrigation.
government and later on by the Indian Government The larger rivers are saline ingressed due to their
which was further accentuated with advent of modern proximity to the sea and the waters are only
methods like energized water extraction mechanism periodically sweet. Though there are no large canals,
and post colonial reforms in the form of civil reforms often water from small streams are diverted through
like the abolition of Permanent Settlement narrow water courses (pats) to irrigate rice fields. Field
(Zamindari) system for the systematic decline of most embankments (shilotris) were an interesting feature of
of the traditional irrigation systems (PHAD). It is tillage in Colaba and Thana districts. These
noted that with advent of alternatives like energized embankments were made to keep out the tidal waters.
pump-sets and canal irrigation the traditional irrigation The diversion and transportation and management of
system had declined. The emergence of reservoir water for irrigating the lands for cultivating rice in
based canal system in