- 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
- 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.
Irrigation Development during five year plans
In 1950 – 51 the gross irrigated area was 22.5 million ha. After completion of 1
five year plan the gross irrigated area was enlarged to 26.2 million ha. Further it was
gradually increased to 29, 35.5, 44.2, 53.5; 75 million has respectively over the II, III, IV,
V, VI & VII five years plans. The expected increase through VIII and IX five year plans
area 95 and 105 m ha respectively.
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.
1. Major – more than 50 million Rupees : It covers cultural command area of more
than 10,000 hectares
2. Medium – 2.5 million to 50 million Rupees : It covers cultural command area of
2000 – 10,000 hectares
3. Minor – less than 2.5 million Rupees : It covers cultural command area of 2,000
The minor irrigation work consists of irrigation tanks, canals and diversion work
for the welfare of small of farmers.
Indian has may perennial and seasonal rivers which flow from outside and within
the country. Among this some important rivers of different states are given below.