Over 70% of Indians rely on agriculture, and there are hundreds of dams and reservoirs built primarily for irrigation purposes, as well as hundreds of rivers utilized for canals throughout agricultural fields. Several initiatives are being considered to link rivers in various areas of India.
These canals play a crucial role in India’s agricultural sector, transportation, and water management, contributing significantly to the country’s economy and the livelihoods of its people.
1. Indira Gandhi Canal
The Indira Gandhi Canal is the longest canal in India with a length of 640 km and stands as a substantial canal network located in the northwestern region of India, with its primary focus on serving the arid state of Rajasthan. This canal system was meticulously designed to address the perennial water requirements of Rajasthan’s arid and semi-arid regions, which routinely grapple with water scarcity due to limited rainfall.
Originating at the Harike Barrage in Punjab State, it skillfully diverts water from the Sutlej River. The main job of the organization is to help with irrigation, which it has done very well, turning large, dry areas into thriving farming areas that make it possible to grow crops like wheat, cotton, and mustard.
Location: Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana
Length: 649 km
2. Buckingham Canal
Buckingham Canal, a noteworthy waterway in South India, finds its primary location along the scenic Coromandel Coast. Its name is derived from the British Governor of Madras at the time, the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. This canal traces a parallel path along the Bay of Bengal, spanning from the northern precincts of Chennai to the southern reaches of Andhra Pradesh.
Originally crafted with the purpose of facilitating navigation and the transportation of goods, it served as a crucial conduit connecting coastal areas, including the bustling ports of Chennai and the adjacent regions, fostering robust trade and commerce.
Location: Vijayawada to Villupuram District in Tamil Nadu
Length: 421 km
3. Sharda Canal
The Sharda Canal is sourced from the Sharda Barrage, situated on the Sharda River, alternatively referred to as the Kali River. The Sharda River serves as a tributary to the Ghaghara River. The Sharda Barrage is situated inside the geographical boundaries of the Lakhimpur Kheri district, which is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India.
Originating from the Sharda Barrage, the canal predominantly follows a southwest trajectory as it traverses the districts of Lakhimpur Kheri, Bahraich, and Shravasti within the state of Uttar Pradesh. The canal system comprises multiple reservoirs and distributaries, which are strategically employed to effectively regulate the distribution of water across diverse agricultural areas.
Location: Pilibhit District, Uttar Pradesh
Length: 269 km
4. Upper Ganges Canal
The Upper Ganges Canal, alternatively recognized as the Upper Ganga Canal, stands as a prominent canal network in northern India. This canal system holds a crucial role in water management and irrigation, redirecting water from the revered Ganges River (often referred to as the Ganga) to facilitate agricultural irrigation in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The length of this canal is diminishing as a result of poor construction quality.
Location: Haridwar to Aligarh district via Meerut and Bulandshahr
Length: 437km (not including 1412 km branches)
5. Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal
The Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal, often referred to as the SYL Canal, stands as a notable canal project within India. Originating near the village of Kapoori in the state of Punjab, this canal was initially intended to connect and convey water into the Yamuna River, situated in Haryana. Its primary purpose lies in the transfer of water from the Sutlej River, a tributary of the Indus River, to the Yamuna River, which in turn is a tributary of the Ganges River. This cross-basin water transfer system was specifically designed to address the water requirements of the northern Indian states of Haryana and portions of Delhi.
Location: Connect the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers
Length: 214 km
Some of the notable canals in India include:
- Bhakra Canal: Emerging from the Bhakra Dam, this canal system serves the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan and plays a crucial role in providing water for irrigation purposes.
- Yamuna Canal: This canal parallels the course of the Yamuna River, delivering vital irrigation to the farmlands of Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.
- Grand Anicut (Kallanai): Situated in Tamil Nadu, this canal boasts a rich history as one of India’s ancient man-made waterways, with origins dating to the 2nd century AD. It serves the essential purpose of channeling water from the Kaveri River for irrigation.
- Kottapuram-Kollam Canal: This is used for interior navigation and transportation and is a part of Kerala’s West Coast Canal system.
- Godavari Pushkaram Canals: These canal systems are harnessed to redirect water from the Godavari River, serving as a crucial source for irrigating agricultural lands in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
- Alappuzha Canals: Situated amidst the picturesque backwaters of Kerala, these canals play multifaceted roles, serving as vital channels for transportation, thriving hubs for fishing, and prominent attractions for tourism within the scenic Alappuzha region.