Short notes on The Garland Canal System of Irrigation

The Garland Canal Project was proposed by Dinshaw J. Dastur, a consultant engineer. It in­volved a total expenditure of Rs. 15,000 crores. It aims at providing irrigation facilities to all parts of the country, eliminating the vicious flood-drought circle and making a judicious utilization of surface water resources (rivers, rainfall and snow-melt).

The Project envisages the construction of two mammoth canals, the Himalayan Catchment Canal, and the Central Deccan and Southern Plateau Canal covering the entire length and breadth of the coun­try. The Himalayan Catchment Canal will run along the foothills of the Himalayas covering a length of 3,800 km from the river Ravi to Chittagong. It will be 300 meters broad and will maintain a constant elevation of 1,000 meters above the sea level.

The canal will arrest, control and distribute the waters of the Himalayan Rivers including snow-melt. A series of artificial reservoirs and integrated lakes would be constructed along the canal on the catchment side and at strategic locations. Their main aim would be to supplement the storing capacity of the main canal (i.e. 300 billion cu meters).

The Central Deccan and Southern Plateau Canal would encircle the southern and central pla­teau in a 900 km zigzag area beginning with the Chambal River and terminating at Cape Comorin. This canal will be twice as long as the Himalayan Catchment Canal and will be built at a uniform elevation of 500 meters above sea level. Shaped like a giant necklace this will encircle the entire southern and central plateau and will have 2900 subsidiary outlets along its entire course. It will connect all the monsoon-fed rivers of the region.

The canal will have a total water storage capacity of 1050 billion cu. meters. The Himalayan and Plateau canals will be connected at two places through a series of pipe lines. Due to a height difference of 500 meters between the two canals there will be easy flow of flood water and snow-melt from the Himalayan Catchment Canal to the Central Deccan and South­ern Plateau Canal by the force of gravity.

Though this Project appears to be over-ambitious but it has potentiality to completely transform the agricultural landscape of the country. It will ensure continuous supply of water to all parts of the country and will augment the irrigation potential to 2.1 million square km.

The net annual agricultural income would work out to be Rs 1, 30,000 crores. Similarly the gross agricultural income accruing directly from the project would reach Rs. 2, 70,000 crores per year. The project, besides controlling floods and mitigating droughts, will generate hydro- electricity, promote aqua culture, a forestation, di­versify agriculture and improve river transport and tourism.