Irrigation – History And Statistics


Irrigation has been practiced since time immemorial, nobody knows when it was started but evidences say that it is the foundation for all civilization since great civilization were started in the river basins of Sind and Nile.


This civilization came to an end when the irrigation system failed to maintain
crop production.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 periods.


The Grand Anaicat (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 Tank and Gangai Konda Cholapuram tank was constructed during 10th century in TN. Anantaraja Sagar in AP was constructed during 13th century.

Early Mauryan king Samudragupta and Ashoka took great interest in the
construction of wells and tanks. Later Moghul kings or North India and Hindu kings of South India focused their attention, in the establishment of canals, dams, tanks etc.


British Government initiated their work during 19th century in remodeling and renovation of the existing irrigation system. The Upper Ganga canal, Krishna and Godaveri delta system, Mettur and Periyar dams are the great irrigation structures built by the British rulers.

After independence, Irrigation activities have been accelerated and
number of multipurpose river valley projects like Bhakrea-nangal in Punjab,
Tungabhadra in Andraprdesh, Damodar Valley in Madya Pradesh were established.

Classification of irrigation work or projects


The irrigation projects can be classified as

1. major

2. medium

3. minor based on financial limits or expenditure involved in the scheme.

Major – more than 50 million Rupees : It covers cultural command area of more than 10,000 hectares.

Medium – 2.5 million to 50 million Rupees : It covers cultural command area of  2000 – 10,000 hectares.

Minor – less than 2.5 million Rupees : It covers cultural command area of 2,000 hectares.The minor irrigation work consists of irrigation tanks, canals and diversion work for the welfare of small of farmers.

irrigation projects in India

State                                       Project Name
A.P.-  Godavari delta system,Krishna delta system, Nagarjuna sagar (Krishna)

Bihar – Gandala

Punjab- Western Jamuna, Bhakranangal Sutlej, Beas

Gujarat – Kakrapare – Tapti Narmada

M.P. -Gandhi sagar (Chambal, Ranap setab, sagar)

Maharastra- Bhima Jayakwadi(Godavari)

Kerala- Kalada, Mullai Periyar

Karnataka – Ghataprabha, Malaprapha and Turga

Orissa – Hirkand and mahanathi

U.P –  Upper ganga canal, Ramaganga

W.B –  Damodar Valley

Rajasthan –  Rajasthan Canal (Sutlej)

Tamil Nadu – Mettur – Lower Bhavani Project, Parambikulam Alliyar Project,  Periyar Vaigai, Cauvery delta, Tamiarabarani,

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