Methods of Irrigation in India

Methods of Irrigation in India

A common method of irrigation cannot be followed in all parts of India due to the variation in relief, depths of underground water, soil, temperature, rainfall etc. There are mainly 3 methods of irrigation in India. They are:

  1. Wells and tube-wells.
  2. Tanks, ponds and lakes and
  3. Canal Irrigation.

1. Wells and tube-wells:

38% of irrigation land uses wells and tube wells in India. By this method, wells are dug to reach the underground water level. Then the water is lifted up to the surface to be used for farming. If the underground water level is near the surface, the wells can be shallow. After the wells and tube wells are constructed the water is lifted by two methods:

  1. Common method is the Persian Wheel: Normally animals like cattle drag a rope to the surface at the end of which a bucket of water is lifted from the well to the surface. By the Persian wheel method, a wheel with many buckets around the circumference is pulled by a rope by an animal in such a manner that buckets of water rise from the well to the surface one by one.
  2. The other method of lifting water to the surface used today is by electric pumps or diesel pumps. In a short time large amounts of water can be lifted usually from deep wells or tube wells.

This type of irrigation is common in the plains of North India – Punjab, U.P., Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. Some wells are also seen in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu etc.

2. Irrigation from tanks, ponds and lakes:

15% of irrigation is provided from tanks, ponds, and lakes. In the plateau of South India impervious rocks do not allow rainwater to penetrate underground. As the relief is undulating rainwater can be easily stored in low-lying area. From such reservoirs of water in tanks, ponds and lakes, water can be used for irrigation by pumping. The main drawback of this method is the loss of water in summer due to high temperatures which does not provide irrigation when required most i.e. dry season.

This type of irrigation is seen in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu mainly. Such irrigation is also seen in West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Bihar etc.

3. Canals Irrigation:

Canal Irrigation is the most common method of irrigation providing water to 40% of the irrigated land in India. There are 2 types of canals:

Inundation Canal

inundation canal, which provides water to the fields only during the rainy season or flood times when excess water from the rivers in diverted through inundation canals to the fields. But this canal has less importance since in the dry summer season it cannot provide irrigation.

Inundation Canal Irrigation is common in the deltas of Mahanadi, Krishna Godavari and Kaveri.

Perennial Canal Irrigation

The second type of canal provides water to the fields throughout the year. Only when river have water throughout the year or dams are constructed across them reserving water, then water can be supplied continuously to the fields.

Perennial Canal Irrigation is found in:

  • Uttar Pradesh: Upper Ganga canal, Lower Ganga canal, East Jamuna canal, Agra canal and Sarada canal are all perennial canals,
  • Punjab: West Jamuna canal, Upper Bari Doab canal and Sirhind canal.
  • West Bengal: Midnapur canal, Eden canal, irrigational canals of Damodar, Mayurakshi and Kangsabati projects.
  • Tamil Nadu: Mettur canal and canals of the Kaveri delta.
  • Kerala: Malampuzha canal and Pamba canal.
  • Andhra Pradesh: Godavari delta canal and Krishna delta canal etc.

By Amit Agarwal