Our Water Resources Means of Irrigation, River Valley Projects

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Means of Irrigation

There are three main means of irrigation in India.

They are:

  • Wells and Tube Wells: Irrigation by wells has greatly increased with the use of diesel and electric pumping sets. Irrigated area by wells and tube wells in 1950-51 was only 59 lakh hectares which has increased to 30 million hectares in 1997-98. During this period total irrigated area has increased from 30 % to 57 %. There are large reserves of underground water in the alluvial plains of north India. Digging and constructing wells and tube wells is easy and cost of their construction is also comparatively less. Therefore, irrigation by wells and tube wells here is popular. On the other hand, Gujarat, Goa, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra are such states where only about 60 % irrigation is carried on by wells and tube wells.

  • Canals: Canals were the main means of irrigation up to 1960. Canals contributed about 40 % in the total irrigated area of the country. In 1996-97 it came down to about 31 %. About 1.74 crore hectare area was irrigated by canals in 1996-97. Half of this area (52.5 %) is limited to the states of north India. Haryana, Orissa, Karnataka, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Punjab are worth mentioning for canal irrigation. Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Assam, and Tripura are such states which are greatly depend upon canal irrigation because there is lack of other means of irrigation in these states. Mizoram which has the least irrigated area completely dependent upon canals for irrigation.

    Water Availability

    Image of Water Availability

    Water Availability

  • Tanks: About 6 % of the irrigated area is irrigated by tanks. Irrigation by tanks is popular in peninsular plateau area. Tamil Nadu is the leading state in the irrigation by tanks. About 22 % area is irrigated by tanks here. In the states of Orissa, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, and West Bengal tanks are used for irrigation.

River Valley Projects

To make India economically self-sufficient and to improve the standard of living of the people, development efforts were initiated soon after the independence. Among these activities special emphasis was laid on the development of river valley projects. River valley projects were multipurpose projects. The main objectives of these projects are flood control, prevention of soil erosion, provision of water for irrigation, drinking, and for industries, generation of electricity, transport, entertainment, conservation of wildlife, and development of fisheries.

Major River Valley Projects of India

Major River Valley Projects of India
Title: Major River Valley Projects of India

Name of the Project


Constructed Dam/Reservoir

Beneficiary States

1. Damodar Valley



1. Tilaiya

2. Konar

3. Maitlhon

4. Panchet Hill

1. Jharkhand

2. West Bengal

2. Bhakra Nangal


1. Bhakra

2. Nangal

3. Pong

Reservoir- Gobind Sagar

1. Punjab

2. Himachal Pradesh 3. Haryana

4. Delhi

3. Hirakud


1. Hirakud

2. Tikkarpara

3. Naraj

1. Madhya Pradesh

2. Orissa

3. Chhattisgarh

4. Tungabhadra


Canals with dams

Tungabhadra Dam

1. Karnataka

2. Andhra Pradesh

5. Nagarjuna Sagar


Nagarjuna Sagar Dam

1. Andhra Pradesh

6. Narmada Valley


Proposed dams

1. Sardar Sarovar

2. Narmada Sagar

3. Burgi

1. Madhya Pradesh

2. Maharashtra

3. Gujarat

4. Rajasthan

7. Kosi


Three units-

1. Kosi Barrage

2. Kosi Shaktigrah

3. Hanuman Nagar

1. Bihar

2. Jharkhand

3. Nepal

8. Chambal Valley



1. Gandhi Sagar

2. Rana Pratap Sagar

3. Jawahar Sagar

4. Kota Barrage

1. Rajasthan

2. Madhya Pradesh

9. Indira Gandhi Canal


Dam on Ravi

Beas and Sutlej


1. Rajasthan

Developed by: