The states of Punjab and Haryana characterised by fertile alluvial soils are deficient in rainfall (average being 40 cm). This rainfall deficiency is made up by canals taken out from the perennial rivers of the Indus system (Figs. I4.3 and I4.4). It is this efficient canal system which has enabled this area to be called as the granary of the country and nucleus of the Green Revolution.
Although there has been some decline in the importance of canal irrigation due to popularity of tube-wells and pumping sets but canals still irrigate 50.8 per cent of the net irrigated area in Haryana and 39.1 percent in Punjab. There are 8 major and minor canal systems in the region.
1. Upper Bari Doab Canal-it derives its water from the Ravi River at Madhopur barrage (Gurudaspur). It took 20 years to complete the canal in 1879. The total length of main canal is 518 km and along with distributaries the length increases to 4900 km. The canal irrigates about 3.4 lakh hectares of agricultural land in Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts in Punjab. Its main branch is Sonkh.
2. Western Yamuna Canal-it takes off from the right bank of the Yamuna River at Tajewala (Haryana). The canal was originally constructed by Feroze Shah III during the 14th century and was remodelled by the British in 1873. It has a total length of 3229 km with distributaries and provides irrigation to about 4.88 lakh hectares of land in Karnal, Rohtak, Jind, Sonipat, Ambala, Hisar and Kurukshetra districts of Haryana. It has four important branches: the Delhi, the Hansi, the Sirsa and the Butana.
3. Sirhind Canal-it takes off from the left bank of the Satluj near Ropar (Punjab). The canal was completed in 1886. It has a total length of 6,115 km with distributaries. The canal irrigates about 7 lakh hectares of cropped area in Patiala, Sangrur,
Bathinda, Ludhiana, Faridpur and Firozpur districts. Its main branches include: the Patiala, the Kotla. The Bathinda and the Abohar.
4. Sirhind Feeder Canal-It takes off from the Firozpur Feeder at its 18th km at Malanwala. It is 142 km long and irrigates land in Firozpur, Faridkot and Moktsar tahsils (of Punjab) besides Rajasthan. The canal was completed in 1960.
5. Canals of Bhakra-Nangal Project-The Bhakra Canal System, the largest in the country, was completed in 1954. It takes water from Bhakradam at Ropar and irrigates about 15 lakh hectares of land in the districts of Hisar, Rohtak and Karnal districts of Haryana. The main canal is 174 km long and with distributaries the length increases upto 3,360 km. The Nangal canals originating from the Nangal dam is about 64 km long. It acts as a feeder canal to the Bhakra canal. It irrigates about 26.4 lakh hectares of agricultural land in the districts of Jalandhar, Firozpur, Ludhiana, and Patiala in Punjab; Karnal and Hisar in Haryana and some parts of Rajasthan.
6. BistDoab Canal-this canal is also a part of the Bhakra-Nangal Project which has been taken out from the Satluj River at Nova (1954). It is 154 km long and irrigates about 4 lakh hactares of land in Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur districts of Punjab.
7. Gurgaon Canal-it takes off from the Yamuna River at Okhla (near Delhi). It provides irrigation to about 3.2 lakh hectares of land in Gurgaon and Faridabad districts and some parts of Rajasthan.
8. Eastern Grey Canal-it takes off from the Saduj near Firozpur. The canal was completed in 1933. It irrigates northern part of Firozpur district in Punjab.