Presidential Address By Dr. L. RAO

1.Binding forces of a Nation

Some binding force is necessary to enable a group of people to share their joys an sorrows of the region where they live they have to combat external aggression and work together against internal poverty and constitute a nation” At present there are 100 nations in the world with 15 nations having more than 50 million people each. Some of these are China, India, USSR, USA, Indonesia. Japan, Brazil, U.K. France Federal Republic of Germany etc. Nearly half the world’s population lives in China and India.

To keep a nation united there must be as many sectors as possible. Where people can share without distinction. Religion used to be a great binding force. But in the modern world its impact is generally not great language is yet another force. Fostering understanding and unity in fact it was this idea that gave rise to the formation of linguistic states in India. But the recent experience such as in Andhra – Telangana Maharashtra Vidarbha have not shown any importance of language in bringing cohesiveness. USA and U.K. speak the same language but in effect they are extremely apart each with its own way of life what keeps each nation united is the common building up of the economy to be shared between all the people irrespective of region. Language and other dividing forces. This is significantly brought our in the latest amendment of the Constitution of India when the title of India was changed to Secular, Socialist Democratic Republic of India. Sequel to the latest Constitutional amendment should be the declaration of waters a national resource to which every citizen of the country is entitled.

2. (a) The most important resource of a nation – water

Economic exploitation of a nation is the most important factor to build up standard of living for the people. To bring about economic uplift of large sized nation like India we have to be prepared to undertake gigantic projects of the resources that a nation possesses. There are the deple- table resources like fossil fuels minerals etc. While the others are the non-depletable which occur annually, though limited in occurrence. One such is water. Water and life are synonymous and water resources have to be exploited in a planned manner so that every part of the country meets its minimum needs and damaging effect of its shortage are eliminated or minimized.

Water is the most important resource because it is an essential requisite for producing food water was created earlier than man. For several centuries, man has improved the technique of agricultural production and is trying even now to produce from the same extent of land greater amount of food than in earlier times.

(b) Unavoidable necessity of water in India

The sown area as percentage of a geographical area of a nation is generally 11% (world’s average) but in India, It is 46% this shows immediately the great importance of agriculture in India. Most of the population is engaged in agriculture and has to depend on it for producting adequate food and in the process find gainful employment Due to varying and unreliable rainfall in large tracts of the country rain – fed agriculture is a gamble. To eliminate the shortage of water we have to build projects to convey water to as many areas as possible particularly to arid and semi – arid regions. Where the annual rainfall is small being less than 1750 mm. a year and its occurrence is highly variable. These areas have been the scene of sever famines in the past and server droughts even now. The only measure to remedy the suffering due to droughts is to provide irrigation at least to a limited extent in these deficit areas while in the rest of the country the percentage of irrigation can vary up to 100% or more.

3. Irrigation essential for food production:-

It is an incontrovertible fact that irrigation is essential for adequate food production. In India, the rural population is spread uniformly except in a few large densely populated tracts. Therefore, we find-that lands are cultivated even in areas where the rainfall is uncertain and the agriculture has to predominantly depend on the rainfall. The percentage of gross sown area to cultivale area will be ranging genrally from 70% and above. in other regions like tributary rever basins of the Krishna, Pennar valley, Luni and other rivers of Kutch and Saurashtra etc. the percentage is less than 70% Evidently in these basins large pockets of drought areas exit pockets of drought areas exist and people are afraid to grow crops. The percentage of drought areas in various river basins are shown in Table – 1 These chronic drought areas have to be supplied with water to satisfy at least the minimum needs it is only the impossibility of supplying wate, withn the economic rane that a nation can afford. that should prevent undertaing irrigation projects.

Percentage of irrigation is highly varying from area to area. The country’s average is 25% ie. one hectare out of 4hc. in Punjab the percentage of irrigation is 80% wheras it is 10% in Madhya paradesh this imbalance of irrigation is dur to various reasons and has to be rectified to prevent pockets of utter poverty.

Water can be obtained from rivers and ground. Ground water resources contribute 30% of the water used for irrigation The aim of irrigation development should be to provide 50% of sown area then only can we produce enough food to 800 million people whic will be the minimum probable population of india in 2000 A.D. Also we should note the fact that more than 60% of the population is underfed now. We should ensure that the state of affairs prevaling now would not continue for long. Therefore, we have to double our food production to make sure every one in future has sufficiet to eat. we can extract ground water for supply to land be digging deep and shallow wells. Good yield of the wells is limited to parts of the country In the Ganga basin iti possible toget 200,000 gallos per hour the rocky areas in the peninsula the yield is hardly 5000 gallons an hour. The areas irrigated per well in the region is small. Nevertheless near self- sufficiency achieved by Tamil Nadu is largely due to the development of limited ground water. Ground water therefroe, can not be geglected. Through combined use with surface water, more area cab be served, through transfer of water from wells to other bassins cannot be substantial.

4. Surplus surface water is India:-

Of the fourteen major river basins is india. five systems have waters is surplus of the needs of the valley through which they flow as shown in the table-2


annual flow 000 million cum Gross sown area in million ha. Gross irrigated area in million ha.
1. The Brahma putra at Dubr 510 4 0.7
The Ganga at Farakka 459 57 20.00
The Mahanadi at Kaimudi 59 7 1.6
Godavari at Dowlaiswaram 105 16 2.3
The Narmada at Broach 40 5 0.3

As an average we can assume that the water requirement for irrigating milion. ha. is 10 thousand milloin cum. Even assumin 50% sown area will be irrigated in the Gangetic basin. there will be plenty of surplus water.

There is extensive surplus in the Branhmaputra but only a little of it is useful for transfer elswhere due to difficult terrain coniditions, the Godavari valley cannot absorb the entire annual flow in the river, but will be available for transfer of several decades and can be made use of in other regions. This observation applies to the Narmada as well.

Besides the abve suplus we can expect in some years extra flows in the other riverss Through interlinging of river systems we can use the water from surplus areas to the deficit areas.

5. The Inter-basin transfer Projects:

As the interconnection protects are generally more costly than the projects in the basin. we should effect economies. To spread the benifits to the maximum we should adopt a crop pattern which absorbs te least amount of water. Dry irrigated schemes which provide 1/3 wet an 2/3 dry is the best to use water economically Further savings can be achieved by reducing losses in conveyance by reducing losses lining the canals and adopting sprinkler irrigation in some areas at least.

There is another great advantage in the inter basin transport of water All the major river in India and some of the medium rivers are Inter – State rivers. i. e. passing through more than one State. This results in disputes between Statessharing waters.

Any solution found at any given time will be aplicable oly for a few decades.

New situations will develop and fresh look has to be taken at the agreements. Thus the river Cauvary is shared by agreement between Karnataka and Madras in 1924. 50 years ago. Now there is alredy a dispute between the two States for fresh allocation of waters All these will arise because there is shortage of water in the river to meets the needs of the people in tha valley. To make up this we have to borrow from other areas. Thus, in the Cauvery basin in one to two thousand million cum. is made available from other resource, the disputes between the two States can be resolved. Thus the interbasin transfer of water can be used for solving the river disputes and dveloping amity among the different States of the country.

The inter-linking canals are briefly described below:

(1) Ganga – Cauvery link connecting the Ganga in the North with the Cauvery in the south and passing through the basins of the son. Narmada. Tape Godevari, Krishna and pennar.

(2) Brahmaputra – Ganga link

(3) Canal from the Narmada to Gujarat and Western Rajasthan.

(4) Canal from Chambal to central Rajasthan.

The most important link that will serve many States is the Ganga – Cauvery lin. It takes off below Banners at a suitable site near Patna The Ganga water can be pumped for areas in its own basin such as Mirzpur plateau and South Bihar areas adjacent to the Ganga. The irrigation under the Son barrage can be shifted to the Ganga and the wters coming higher up the waters coming higher up the river can strored at Bansagar etc. so that the splus waters can be retained at higher levels avoiding large lifts. The Ganga at Patna is about 45m. above the sea level and the Ganga waters can easily be lifted to serve the scarcity areas in its own basin. These are all details which have to be worked out during investigations. Belw Patna there are no irrigation projects on the mainstream. During the flood period. for at least six months, wate is in exces of the requirements includig water for Calcutta port and the needs of Bangladesh and can be diverted to irrigate crops in the khariff period. The Ganga – Cauvery canal project would involve water being lifted by about 360m in all. The pumped water enter Bargi reservoir across the Narmada. from this ti flows along the Waiganga, Pranhita and finally joins the Godavari at Ichampalli. This may be called the Eastern Canal. Another western branch takes off from Narmada and joins the Godavari at POchampad or any other suitable point from this, the water flows along the Pochampad right canal till it enters Srisailam, if necessery by pumping. The canal passes through the entire Rayalaseema and passes through Ananthapur areas and joins the Cauvery at Tiruchirapalli. The western baranch serves the drought area of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Once the canal comes to the Cauvery a further extension of abut 160 Km. to 240 km will serve surplus water for the drought areas of Ramnad and Tirunelveli up to Tambraparni. Thus, the Ganga – can very link provides a useful pupose of serving several dry regions of seven States. To serve the haead reaches of the rievers, water will be detained in the upper reaches and the link canal will supply the lower areas. A realistic programe can be drawn up only after investigations are carried out – serve as an excellent and useful navigation route and industries can be located in the central India avoiding the con centration in the coastal areas only The amount of water to be in these canal has to be carefully determined. Tentatively it is assumed as 1400 cumecs to be shared by the five States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra. Andhe Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

The second link conveys the waters of the Narmada to Gujarat and the western Rajasthan. The deficiencise in the Narmada valley will be made up by letting some Ganga waters into the Narmada river.

The third link is the Brahmaputra and Ganga link. This will serve to supply waters to the Ganga system in the onths of February through April when the Ganga has little flow while the Brahmaputra runs full due to its draining the Himalayan catchement and the early rains in Assam. The canal Passes throught Bangladesh while bothe the countries stand to gain by this link, ti may take some time to arrive at an agreement. This will aslo be a very usefull navigational canal.

The Mahanadi – Godavari link will serve the southern areas. In orisa like the Ganjam District and the dry areas in Visakhapatnam district is poor in water resourcs and water has to be brought either from the mahanadi or the Godavari or both.

Besides three link canals there are possibilities of links between the Chambal and the Rajasthan canal and links from the west flowing rivers to the east.

Flexibility has to be introduced to take care of shortages to a limited extent in either of the adjacent regions by providing for flow in bothe directions when necessay. Thus the Godavari supplies to some are as in the Krishna basin, when adequate water is not available in the Krishna an reversee also happens, the canals. Hence the interlinking canals are called Water Grid”

The main difficulty in Constructing the National Water Grid is power. which at the moment is short supply. The full power requirement for Operation of the link will arise only after 20 t0 25 years after the work is sanctioned. Then in comparison with the total installed capacity of the country, the requirement of power for the link will be of the order of only 3 percent. this power will be required during the monsoon months when all the river systems sil be overflowing. This excess water can be used for secondary power generation and can be suppied at relatively cheap rates. Thus, The energy pumping can be obtained mainly from secondary power generation and will in no way affect the firm power capacities of the respective power stations. The additional capacity installed for generation of secondary energy could whenever posssible be utilised for low load factor operation (peak load) during the rest of the period.

India has recently started nuclear energy generation. Power supply from large nuclear as will as conventional thermal per stations for pumping during off peak hours could prevent a shutdon of those stations and make energy available at incremental fuel cost only. Consideration should be give to any saving. which may be gained by a lower specific heat consmption per k. Wh. In consequence f a continuous operation instead of reducing power generation and efficiency during off-peak ours Further more if necessary, pit-head power stations whic would have been in operation by the time. can also provide power.

As the project is a major one, it was referred to the United Nations” organisation. A team of experts after inspection and discussions endorsed the concept of the national Water Grid. They Observed as follows:

“India’s national economy it its development and growth will be confronted with the problem of increasing scarcity of water within the next thirt years. From basic compliation of future water demands and water yields it becomes evident that by the year 2000 or so the national water grid will be a vital necessity. No time should be lost to start the very complex and difficult investigations today so that plans will be matured and perpared in due time and the facilities will become operative when the nedd wil have come”.

The team has further observed that “The project of the Ganga Cauvery link canal has been developed by Indian engineers on a national level. Its purpose is to transfer surpluls wate from the Ganga river to areas of water deficiency in central western and southern India. The mission believes that the projec is technically feasible and persents no insurmountable engineering or construction problems but requires continuig study and refinement durng several years to come manpower and technical skill for such studies is available in india and should be mobilised. Adequate funds should be allocated. Through investigation of water yield- and demands of technical features and of availability of lowcost power for puping is needed to determine the econmic feasibility of the project”

6. Earlier transbasin projects:

We have a numbr of projects where the water was transferred from one basin to another. Thus the Periyar diversion project takes some of the west flowing waterss to Madurai district and has been extremely useful to control the famines of the district Similarly the Cuddapah – Kurnool canal diverts the Tungabhadra waters to the Pennar. The Rajasthan canal is another large diversion scheme in other countries transfer of water resulted in banishing poor returns to the farmers. For example, in USA the California water plan completed some years ago, has proved very useful. This plant transfers 5200 million cum. of water over a length of 720 km from northern parts of the State to areas in the South lifting water by 900m. in USSR the lrtys Canal 450 km. long conveys water after lifting in stages ranging from 14 to 22 metres. More ambitious schemes are contemplated for transporting huge quantities of water like 100,000 million cum. from the north flowing 0 b to areas in the west.

7. Programme of investgations

The link canals have to be investigated any other irrigation canal. Hydrology of the rivers which are connectd to the link has to be studied in depth Special fratures of this project such as pumps generation of electricity in the system barrages and crossings ect. have to be insvestigated it is suggested that the main link canal in each of the States may be investgated by the respective States. The central organisation will deal with coordition Particularly of hydrology of the regions. The investigation of barancch canals can be done when the framework is finalised. There must be good coordination again between concerned States. in Easter and Western canals. The economics of taking off the caals at two different places has to be determined. That is, the capacities of each of the canals may be fixe at 25 thousand cum. For irrigating two million ha. Investgations are useful even if the project is not started for some years. In fact a comprehensive water plan for the country can be arrived at only if the wter resources, and detail of the regions are available. In the next two decades correct budgeting of our water resources will be necessary to draw economic plans for the country, covering agricultural and industrial development of the country. Investigations take many years and therefore a start must be made on theinestigations of the project so than construction may commence and benefits flow at least at the end of the decade. Investigations should include not only the usual survey, impact of afforestation, drainae and salinity control.

Socio- economic survey will be useful as bench marks to study the effects of introudcing irrigation later. Financial aspects to be studied are indicated below:

1. Possibilities of finding finances for the project in stagesL

2. Possibillity of getting financial aid fromg World Bank FAO and other organisations who are inerested in the mighty project which will add as a precedint for the new and most desired way of using the scarce water resourcesL
3. Estimation of the people’s contributin by wat of labour or in any other shapeL
4. Financial estimates of the project

8. Approximate costs:

The cost of the project for which even preliminary field survey are not available can go wrong on either side. the rough estimates indicated in this paper should not be taken as a guide for seleting or rejecting the project either in entirety or in portions. More reliable results can be obtained after doing preliminary investigation for at least five to ten years. The water from the main canals will be used to till tanks and and natural depressions en route.

The estimates for supplying water to drought areas in the basin such as Mirzapur basin are not included as they should be developed as early as possible from projects taken up in the plans. It includes only inter basin projects that are discussed in tms paper.

Taking the Ganga – Cauvery link including the east and million ha.., and at the rate of Rs. 3000 per ha. the estimated cost would be about Rs. 1500 crores. To this we should add for special functions such as pumps Rs 2000/- crores. The crop pattern has to be properly chose and storages investigated to serve in the no monsoon seasons. A study can e the Bhakra project wher the capacity of the main canal is only 300 cums. add serves nearly 1.25 million ha. The longest irrigation canal in india is the 340 km. Rajasthan Canal. Compared with this the lenth of the Ganga – Godavari Canal will be 600 km and Godavari to Cauvery another 840 km. These are long length and will involve extra cost. However the exacavation of new canal can be compensated to an appereciable extent if we can align the canals along the bed of the rievers. Thus, Weinganga – Penganga system can convey waters from Narmada to Godaveri practially without extra additional cost or construction of entirely new canals. Durin the investigations one of our main objects should be to make use of natural depression to form canals.

Detailed investigation for the other links can be started three years later. A large number of rivers are involved in the first link. The impace of Narmada development due to its own waters is very great at least two are there decades. Furtheer extension to westernn regions can be takenup after the Ganga – Cauvery link is started also if the nations shows enthusiasm and it courageous to take up the Ganga – Cauvery canal it will serve as incentive for taking after ten years can give us a realistic and economic programme for the construction of a National Water Grid.

9. Conclusing:

One may say that the Ganga – Cauvery canal scheme is dream. Has it not been proved than countries are developed only through realisation of dreams? H. G. Wells called the Golero Plan of electrification of USSr a dream and Lenin the “dreamer of Kremlin”. The targest of Golero Plan were not only achieved but even exceeded, is not the independence of India due to mighty nationa dream of Gandhiji? is not oru present development due to a gigantic dream of PaditNehru?

Sown and Drought areas Gross in the River Basins of Inda
Sl.No Name of the river basin entire basin Drought area in the basin Percentae of drought areas to gross sown area
1 indus 9.3 Nil
2 Ganga 57.6 12.5 21.6
3 Brahmaputra (including Bark) 4.1 Nill
4 Sabarmati 1.4 1.1 77.7
5 mahi 1.8 1.4 77.7
6 Narmada 4.8 2.0 42.5
7 Tapi 4.0 1.4 35.4
8 Subranarekha 0.8 Nil
9 Brahmani 1.7 Nil
10 Mahanadi 7.0 0.8 11.2
11 Godavari 15.2 3.8 24.6
12 Krishna 16.3 14.9 91.5
13 Pennar 2.2 2.8 93.0
14 Cauvery 4.2 1.4 30.00
15 Luni and other rivers basins of saurashtra and Kutch 14.8 14.0 95.0
16 Basins other than above 15.8 1.2 95.0
Grand total 161.5 57.4 35.5



  1. saravanan n says:

    Sown and Drought areas Gross in the River Basins of India table very useful this kind of statement very useful for planing while determine how much water need for pumping, how much power need during pumping?.

    The program of investigation need to be continued at least next 20 years for reducing cost of this dream project and need to achieve major technical advancement

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July 1991

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