1st Five Year Plan
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Introduction || APPENDIX (CH-4) || APPENDIX (CH-9) || ANNEXURE (CH-12) || APPENDIX (CH-14) || APPENDIX (CH-24) || APPENDIX (CH-29) || Conclusion
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Chapter 26:

Assessment Of Water Resources

In India, as in other countries, rivers have had a powerful influence on national and local life. Successful agriculture in most parts of the country is not possible without the use of river waters. The large land resources of India cannot be put to productive use without a simultaneous development and use of the water resources. In fact, an integrated development of the land and water resources of India is of fundamental importance to the country's economy. From times immemorial, life and civilization in India have been dependent largely on rivers. The earliest civilizations developed along the banks of the Indus and the Ganga and their tributaries. In the Deccan, except for the narrow strip along the western coast, 'arge parts of the population have depended for their existence on river waters.

2. Irrigation, or the artificial application of water to crops is an old art in India ; in many parts it began with agriculture itself. References to the practice of irrigation in India have been traced to many centuries prior to the commencement of the Christian era. The large numbers of tanks, which are found in the Deccan, have been in existence for ages. The Cauvery delta canals date back to the second century and the Yamuna canals were constructed originally about the i4th century. Under certain favourable conditions river waters provide a cheap source of power either directly or through the generation of hydro-electric power. In India, with little oil and coal deposits confined to certain pans of the country, hydro-electric power has an important part in her development. Apart from rivers, underground waters constitute an mportant source of water supply for domestic and agricultural purposes. The exploitation of sub-soil water resources must be integrated with the use of river waters.

3. Physiograph'cdily, India may be divided into four parts : the Peninsula proper, the Himalayas and associated mountains, the Indo-Gangetic alluvial plains and the Thar desert. The Peninsula is an ancient landmass owing its present features to denudation and weathering ovsr long ages. It is composed ma'nly of ancient crystalline and metamor-ph'c rocks. The western third of the Peninsula is covered by lava flows. Except for a fairly broad strip along the east coast and a comparatively narrow one along the west coast, most of the surface of the Peninsula is composed of hills and plateaus. The coastal plains are the most productive parts of the Peninsula. The Himalayas and associated mountain ranges of northern India are folded mountains o" the tertiary age. The Indo-Gangetic plains lie between the Himalayas and Peninsular India and represent a sag or depression in the earth's crust which has been fi'led up wilh alluvium brought down by the rivers. They constitute one of the most fertile tracts in the world. The alluvial soil of these plains is being cultivated

from times immemorial and shows little signs of exhaustion. The rivers flowing through the plains are snow fed, active during the rainy season and carry enormous detritus load. The Thar desert is an arid region in the north-western part of the country. It occupies a large part of Rajasthan.

4. India lies partly in the tropical and partly in the sub-tropical regions of the world , the Tropic of Cancer passes through the Rann of Cutch and the middle of West Bengal. The sub-tropical zone, comprising Rajasthan and the western part of the Indo-Gangetic Plains shows extremes of climatic condition, while the tropical zone is more equable. In most of the country, there are three seasons : (z) Winter : November to March ; () Summer : April to June , and (in) Rainy season : July to October. The exact duration of each season, however, varies in different parts of the country.

5. The outstanding feature of the rainfall in India is its unequal distribution during the year and its variation from year to year in respect of quantity, incidence and duration. The average annual rainfall of India is 50 inches but it is only of the order of 5 inches in the desert in the north-west, increasing gradually across the plains of northern India from west to east until it is about 100 inches in Assam (see Figure l). In central India, the mean rainfall is of the order of 50 inches a year, and in the Peninsula, except along the west coast, the mean annual rainfall is of the order of 30 inches. Almost the entire rainfall in the country is due to the south-west monsoon and is received during the four months of June to September, with the exception of the south-east portion of the Peninsula, where the rainfall is heavier from October to December. In winter the rainfall varies from ^ to 2 inches except in north-east monsoon areas, and from March till the onset of the south-west monsoon, the country is almost rainless. Apart from its unequal distribution in the year, the rainfall shows considerable variations from year to year. It is not uncommon in many places for rainfall in a year to be less than half the normal ; even one fourth of the normal during a critical period in the crop rotation has been experienced.

Available Water Resources

6. The rivers of India may be broadly divided into two groups : (i) The snow-fed rivers of northern India, and (2) the rivers of central and southern India. The Himalayas give rise to three important river systems of northern India : the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. The chief rivers of central and southern India are theMahanadi, the Godavari, the Krishna and the Cauvery flowing eastward into the Bay of Bengal and the Narmada and the Tapti flowing westward into the Arabian Sea. The Chambal, the Betwa and the Sone drain the northern edge of the Peninsula and flow into the Ganga system.

7. The rivers of northern India, rising in the Himalayas, are snow-fed and flow all the year round though the supplies available in winter are low. The rivers rise with the melting of snows in spring and with the break of monsoons they swell further and carry enormous floods during the rainy season, the supplies falling again from October onwards. The rivers of central and southern India have no snow-fields at their heads and their supplies depend entirely on rainfall. Since this rainfall is confined to a small part of the year, the rivers carry large supplies in these months and the dry weather flow sometimes dwindles down to almost a trickle.

8. Detailed gauge and discharge observations are available for many of the major rivers in India for the last few decades. Most of these observations are however, mainly in connection with existing or projected irrigation works. There has been no attempt to make a complete hydrographic survey of the country; the task is one of great magnitude. The Indian Irrigation Commission of 1901-1903 estimated that the total annual surface flow in the rivers in India, (as it was then, but excluding Burma, Assam and East Bengal) was 51 billion cubic feet. This is equivalent to 1170 million acre-feet* of water. A more recent appraisal of the water resources of the country, based on an empirical formula co-relating the river flow in each basin with its rainfall and temperature, gives the total annual flow as equivalent to 1356 million acre-feet for the Indian Union. Of this only 76 million acre-feet or 5.6 per cent are at present being used for purposes of irrigation ; the rest flow waste to the sea. The position in regard to utilization of water resources in the important river basins is set out below:

River system stimated average annual flow Existing utilisation and proposed projects
Indus 170 million acre-feet for the entire river system lying both in India and Pakistan. Existing utilisation in India is about 8 million acre-feet. The Bhakra-Nangal project is the main project in this system. A mean annual utilisation of 8 million acre-feet is contemplated in this project.
Ganga 400 million acre-feet Only a small part has been utilized, chiefly by canals on the Ganga, Yamuna and Sarda rivers. The Damodar Valley Project is the major project v.'Ithin this system. This proposes to Uiilise nearly 2-7 million acre-feet of water. Other schemes for development are under consideration.
Brahmaputra 300 million acre-feet Existing utilisation is negligible. In general, irrigation is unnecessary because of heavy rainfall in Assam.
Godavari 84 million acre-feet About 14 per cent. has been utilized so far.
Mahanadi 74 million acre-feet Small quantities are utilized fur irrigation in the delta areas. Hirakud project will be the first major development oTi the system. This project would utilize about ii million acre-feet of water.

*An acre-foot represents a volume of water sufficient to cover an acre of la d with one foot depth of water.


River system Estimated average annual flow Existing utilisation and proposed projects
Krishna 50 million acre-feet Approximately 18 per cent of the flow has been utilized. The Tungabhadra project will ultimately utilize an additional 6 million acre-feet. Schemes for further utilization are under consideration.
Cauvery 12 million acre-feet Over 60 per cent of the waters are utilized for irrigation in Madras and Mysore.
Narmada Tapti 32 million acre-feet 17 million acre-feet There has been no large project on either of the rivers. The Kakrapara project on the Tapti would be the first major scheme.

9. There are numerous other rivers and rivulets in which waters are available for utilization, mostly on an intermittent basis during the rainy season. On quite a large number of these, small irrigation reservoirs have already been built ; but many more can be construct d and there is an increasing activity all over the country to utilize the waters of these small streams.

10. Substantial water supplies for irrigation, industrial and municipal uses are available from under-ground waters. Wells have been constructed in all parts of India for domestic water supply and for irrigation of land and they are in use from times immemorial ; but large scale irrigation from this source is possible only with the help of tube wells operated by power pumps. No inventory of the ground water resources for the country as a whole has as yet been prepared. The information available indicates that ground water is generally available in all parts of the country, but it would bs economical to tap it for large scale irrigation by means of power-driven tube-wells only in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujerat.

Water Resources That Can Be Developed For Irrigation

11. Water supplies for irrigation can be obtained from three sources : (i) directly from the water normally flowing in rivers i.e., by diversion Canals ; (ii) from storage of flood-waters flowing in rivers or directly of rain water from small catchments ;and (iii) from the waters available underground i.e., by wells or tube-wells. The extent to which supplies are available from the three sources mentioned above varies in different parts of India ; so also does the extent to which the available sources can be utilized economically.

12. The total quantity of water flowing in the rivers, a rough quantitative indication of which has been given in paragraph 8 above, is not wholly available or needed for irrigation.

This is due mainly to the following reasons :—

  1. Over most of the country, rainfall is concentrated in a comparatively short period of 4 to 6 months. The rivers carry large volumes of water during this period, a great portion of which must go unutilized because it is neither physically possible to divert, nor economic to store, all but a small portion of this flow.
  2. The volume of water, in the rivers, also varies greatly from year to year; Schemes of development, on the other hand, can be executed only
    on the basis of firm supplies i.e., supplies which would be available during most of the years.
  3. In areas of high rainfall, like the west coast and north-eastern-India, irrigation is either not necessary or is needed only to a very limited extent.
  4. Certain quantities of water must be allowed to flow in rivers for hydro-electric development, for purposes of navigation, conservancy and water-supply for towns and villages.

It is difficult to state the percentage of the total river flow that can be used for irrigation. On the Cauvery, which is the most developed river in India, about 60 per cent of the annual flow is utilized. On the other hand, on the Brahmaputra the utilization is almost nil. While conditions certainly vary from river to river, it will not be far out to state that out of a total of 1356 million acre-feet of water, it should be possible to put to beneficial use about l/3rd or 450 million acre-feet ; the existing utilization is 76 million acre-feet. It should be clear, however, that the extent to which river supplies can be put to further use is governed largely by the extent to which monsoon flows can be stored. Storage projects, by their nature, are more costly than diversion projects. There are, however, two important features of these projects which offset their high cost, viz; the possibilities of hydro-electric generation at the dams and the protection afforded against flood damage.

Existing Development

13. Irrigation—A hundred years ago, about 1850, two or three million acres of land were irrigated by large numbers of indigenous irrigation works. These works were in the nature of small tanks in southern India, inundation canals in northern India and reconditioned canals like the Cauvery delta system in Madras and the Yamuna canals. About five million acres were under well irrigation at that time mostly in northern India. The first major irrigation work constructed in India was. che Ganga Canal in Uttar Pradesh, opened for irrigation in 1854. This was followed by the Upper Bari Doab canal in the Punjab and the Godavari delta system and the Krishna delta system in Madras. Then came the Sirhind canal in the Punjab, the Lower Ganga and the Agra canals in Uttar Pradesh and the Mutha canals in Bombay, the last named being from a storage reservoir. A number of other large irrigation works were constructed towards the end of the last and the beginning of the .present century and again after the end of the first World War. Table i gives particulars of important irrigation works existing in the country and Table 2 shows important irrigation and agricultural statistics by States.

14' Subsoil waters have been used in India for irrigation from time immemorial by means of ordinary percolation wells. During recent years, electrically driven tube-wells have opened-up a new method of utilising ground-waters on an extensive scale and in Uttar Pradesh, there are over 2000 State-owned tube-wells. Bihar, Punjab and some other States have also recently taken up the exploitation of ground waters for purposes of irrigation by tube-wells. Tube-well irrigation is generally more costly than irrigation by gravity canals from diversion projects. But for areas not otherwise commanded it is a useful means of irrigation in regions with good underground supplies.

15. It will be seen from Table 2 that India has a gross area of 812'52 million acres of which 491 million acres lie in Part 'A' States and 322 million acres in Part ' B ' and Part ' C ' States. Agricultural statistics are not available for the entire area of the country ; about 230 million acres which formed part of some of the former " Indian States " have not yet been classified. Statistics are at present available for only 581 million acres of land and out of this 369 million acres are culturable. The area actually under cultivation in a year is 277 million acres. The area irrigated from all sources is a little less than 50 million acres or roughly 18 per cent of the total area sown in a year. Thus 92 million acres out of the classified area have yet to be developed in addition to large areas similarly awaiting development from out of the 230 million acres so far unclassified.

16. Navigation—Apart from the use of river waters for irrigation and power generation, for water supply and disposal of sewage, another important use is for purposes of navigation. At one time the rivers of northern India were the main arteries of communication. With the construction of railways, river traffic gradually fell off and inland water transport today is restricted to certain parts of Assam, West Bengal and Bihar. The waterways have also gradually gone out of use because of the withdrawal for purposes of irrigation of the bulk of the dry weather flow. In central and southern India, inland transport could not have been very extensive as the dry weather flow was not enough for navigation except by very small country boats.

Flood control—Although flood control cannot be called a water use, the problem of flood control can best be considered in relation to the existing development on the rivers in India. Every year considerable damage occurs from floods in different parts of the country. Until recently no regular statistics of this damage were collected. Whenever heavy damage resulted from a .flood in the larger rivers, enquiry committees were set up and in some cases suitable flood control measures were undertaken. Extensive embankments have been constructed in parts of Assam, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa. The problem of flood control is now always considered in conjunction with the construction of multi-purpose projects. The construction of large dams to store these flood waters is the most effective way of preventing flood damage.

Recreation—Rivers, natural and artificial lakes and large canals provide important places of recreation for the people. Some of these sites are potential centres of tourist traffic.

Fish Culture—Large collections of water and regulated river flow provide excellent facilities for fish culture. Some of these have been developed but not on any large scale.

Assessment Of Powhr Resources

17. Sources of power can be divided broadly into two classes—(i) exhaustible or those which represent accumulation of energy, gradually formed under the action of the sun's light and heat, e.g. coal, mineral oil, peat, natural gases ; and (ii) inexhaustible, or those which are replenished by nature as fast as they are utilized, e.g. water falls, winds and tides.

The production of power from sources like tides and winds is by its nature limited. Among the fuels derived from growing vegetation, alcohol, which can be manufactured from molasses, mahua flowers, etc., alone has good prospects in India. Projects for increased production of alcohol are dealt with elsewhere in the report. Until atomic power and solar energy come into the field, the development of power resources in India can only be from coal, oil and water.

18. India's reserves of coal have been discussed in Chapter XXVII of the Report. It will be seen that out of total workable reserves estimated at 20,000 million tons, good quality coal is only 5,000 million tons. This has to be conserved for important metallurgical and other operations in which the use of good quality coal is indispensable. There are however, large reserves of low grade coal available which it is now possible to utilize for steam generation in suitably designed furnaces. This opens up a new source of supply for electric power generation by burning lignites (available in large quantities in South Arcot district and in Cutch) and other coals of high ash content which were hitherto considered to be unuseable for this purpose. It is however, obvious that on account of the high inert content of these coals, their transport over long distances cannot be economical and these can be used for power generation only in areas in which they occur.

India's wealth of coal is confined to Bihar and West Bengal with small outliers in Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Plyderabad ; large deposits of lignites occur in South Arcot district in Madras and in Cutch. The distribution is uneven and distances from the coal field to industrial centres are so great that except at or near localities where coal mines exist thermal generation of power may often prove uneconomic. Resources of petroleum, so far as known, are small. There is only one field in Assam which produces about 5 per cent of the total requirements of the country ; the remaining'95 per cent of the consumption has to be met by imports.

19. India's resources of hydro-electric power are vast. These resources have not even been surveyed in their entirety. A committee was appointed which issued a preliminary report in 1919 and a final report in 1921 and indicated a minimum continuous water power potential in India of 3 • 5 million kW. This, however, is proved to be an under-estimate. Projects not included in that survey have since been taken up for investigation and some of them are in an advanced stage of development. There are no doubt other sites which have not yet been taken up for investigation. The total hydro-power potential of India may be up to 40 million kW.

Existing Development

20. Most of the electrical installations in India in the early years were established for meeting the domestic and industrial needs of urban areas. The first large station for the supply of electric power was erected in Calcutta about the end of the last century and in the next two decades similar power supply stations were established in other large towns. These were nearly all thermal stations. The first hydro-electric station in India was erected at Sivasamudram in Mysore in 1902. This was followed by the Tata hydro-electric stations for the Bombay area. The progress of public electricity installations in the country since 1900 is shown in Figure 2. If'will be seen from this that upto 1920 progress was rather slow, but after that date, the industry has sees rapid and continuous expansion. During the twelve years since 1939, the total electricity generating capacity has nearly doubled—from about i million kW. in 1939 to 1-71 million kW. in 1950. The total electricity generated (see figure 3) has also increased from about 2500 million kWh. to 5100 million kWh. during the same period. Approximately 60 per cent. of the electric generating capacity is in coal burning stations, 32 per cent in hydro-electric stations and the remainder in oil burning stations.

A comparison of Figures 2 and 3 shows that although the installed capacity of hydro installations is about 60 per cent that of the steam installations, the units generated by the hydro-electric plants are about no per cent of those generated by the latter. The existing pattern of development of public electricity undertakings is indicated in the following table which shows the installed capacity and power generated by different categories of public electricity supply undertakings :

Particulars of Public utility power stations   Number of undertakings Installed capacity as on 31-12-50 kW. Percentage of grand "total Power generated
Percentage Million of kWh. grand total
(i) Public undertakings—
(a) Government   30 245>9M 14-36 619-497 12-13
(6) Municipalities   nil nil   nil  
(n) Companies   35 758,520 44-29 1,767-700 34-62
  total 65 1,004,134 58-65 2,387-197 46-75
(i) Public undertakings—
(a) Government   103 57,7i6 3-37 58.331 1.14
[b) Municipalities   7 9,892 0.58 16.316 0.32
(n) Companies   192 81,188 4-74 125.084 2.45
Hydro total 302 148,796 8-69 199-73I 3-91
(i) Public undertakings—
(a) Government   M 306,323 17-89 1,387-538 27-17
(b) Municipalities   4 7510 0-44 22-11 0-43
() Companies   4 245,452 14-33 1,110-063 21-73
  total 22 559,285 32 - 65 2,519-772 49-34
grand total 389 1,712,515 100-00 5,106-700 100-00

21. In addition to the public utility power stations described above, there are a number of industrial and railway installations having their own power plants. The total generating capacity of these plants was approximately 588,000 kW. in 1950. Including these stations the total electric generating capacity in the country in 1950 was approximately 2-3 million kW., of which 1-7 million kW. was in thermal stations (including oil burning plants) and about 560,000 kW. in hydro-electric plants.

22. Important particulars of major power projects in the country are shown in Table 3. In Bengal and Bihar, where the coalfields are located, most f the electricity generation is from coal, whereas in Bombay as well as in south India, where coal has to be transported over long distances, hydro-electric development predominates. Outside of these areas, electric development consists generally of thermal stations, supplying urban areas or particular industries. In the Punjab (I) and western U. P., however, there are two important hydroelectric stations one at Jogindernagar and the other forming part of the Ganga electric grid. Table 4 shows for all States the installed capacity of power plants and the,per capita generation of electricity. It will be seen that Bombay, Mysore and West Bengal are more developed than other parts of India, the most backward being Orissa and Assam.

23. It was mentioned earlier that electric supply undertakings were set up in the first instance for supplying the domestic and industrial needs of urban areas. This urban bias of the industry has persisted to a large extent. The two cities of Bombay and Calcutta alone consume about 40 per cent. of the total electricity generated in India. The following table shows the availability of electricity in 1950 to towns and villages in India :

Population range(1941-Ccnsus)   Total number of towns or villages Number of towns or villages with public electricity supply Percentage of towns or villages with public electricity supply to total
Over 100,000 49 49 100.00
100,000 50,000 88 88 100.00
50,000 20,000 277 240 86.64
20,000 10,000 607 260 42.83
10,000 5,000 2367 258 10.86
Below 5,000 559062 2792 0-50

It will be seen from the above that all towns with a population of 50,000 and over, and most of those with population above 20,000 are supplied with electricity. Rural electrification on the other hand, has made very little progress. Out of approximately 560,000 villages in the country, only about 3,000 or one in about 200 is served with electricity. This development, moreover, is confined mainly to Mysore, Madras and U.P. and is associated in each case with the development of Hydro-electric power.

Need For Future Development

24. Situated as India is geographically, with a tropical or sub-tropical climate with practically no rainfall over a large part of the year and uncertain rains during the monsoon months, successful cultivation is not possible in many parts of the country without the aid of irrigation. In the absence of irrigation facilities, large areas produce only a catch crop depending on rainfall alone, which as explained above, is often deficient and unevenly distributed from the point of view of agricultural requirements. It is not surprising, therefore, that the average yield per acre of cultivated area is very low. With the provision of irrigation facilities the yield per acre can be increased considerably. In some areas this increase may be of the order of 50 per cent. but in areas of low and uncertain rainfall this increase may be 2 to 3 times the yield from unirrigated lands ; also large areas of cultivable land, now barren and lying waste can be cultivated and put to productive use if irrigation facilities are provided. The quantity of water and the frequency of irrigation required to mature crops vary in different parts of the country. In some areas like parts of Rajasthan, nothing will grow without the artificial application of water. In others, like Assam, where rainfall is plentiful, little irrigation is necessary and the problem, generally speaking, is one of draining the land for cropping. Between these two limits, there is a wide range of variation in the nature and quantity of irrigation required to mature a crop. In some areas, irrigation works are required, as a standby, to be used once probably in two or three years during a drought and at others for some of the more valuable crops or only in the period just before the rains set in. There are large tracts, however, particularly in Rajasthan, Punjab, western U.P. and parts of the Deccan, where irrigation is necessary for cultivation and is required all the year round. Table 3 illustrates the varying extent of irrigation practised in different parts of the country.

25. Apart from the rainfall—its shortage and abnormal distribution—floods, hailstorms, frosts and other vagaries of the season also affect India's agriculture. Other causes that contribute to a low yield include uneconomic units of cultivation, lack of fertilizers or manure, the use of bad seed, etc. The pattern of cultivation that has developed under these conditions. is generally of an uneconomic type and does not provide adequate employment for those engaged in agricultural pursuits. Over large areas of the country only one crop per year can be grown—during or after the monsoon rains. But where adequate irrigation facilities are available, the pattern of agriculture is different. Two crops can generally be grown and in places, even three. Also, it is not necessary for the cultivator to restrict himself to the particular crops that can be matured during the two or three favourable months of the year the can look ahead and plan a scheme of cropping that will keep him busy all the year round. He has also the incentive to improve his method of cultivation—use improved seeds and manures and practise crop rotation etc., because he is assured of his efforts bringing results. The supply of irrigation can thus change the entire agricultural pattern of large parts of tfae country and lead to increased production from land and increased employment for the cultivator.

The Quantum Of Development Necessary

26. Irrigation—The population of India has been increasing very rapidly during the last few decades. Between 1901 and 1951, there has been an increase of over 120 millions— from 235-5 millions to 356-9 millions—in the population of the areas comprising the present Indian Union. Agricultural development has, however, been comparatively stagnant during this period, with only a small increase in cultivated area. The following table shows the quinquennial averages of areas cultivated and irrigated in the provinces of undivided India (excluding Burma) during the last half century.

Average for five years Total area cultivated Area irrigated by Government works Total area irrigated
  (Million acres)
1896—1900 179-5 16-0 29-6
1901—1905 192-9 18-6 32-5
1906—1910 204-5 21-2 39-4
1911—1915 207-7 23-5 44-5
1916—1920 203-9 25-9 46-5
1921—1925 208-4 25-8 46-0
1926—1930 209-4 27-2 46-8
1931—1935 210-0 28-1 48-8
1936—1940 212-0 30-5 54-5
1941—1945 216-6 33 58-1

It will be seen that between 1906 and 1935 the cultivated area remained more or less constant at 205—210 million acres. The only increase in production during this period was due to the increase in irrigated area which meant assured crops and increased outturn per acre. Some new lands came under irrigation and lands which produced indifferent crops were given up. The total irrigated area increased from about 30 million acres to 58 million acres, or nearly doubled, during the half century 189610 1945. The area irrigated by government works increased somewhat more rapidly—from 16-0 million acres to about 34-0 million acres—during the same period. But the increase in production on account of new irrigation facilities was more than counter-balanced by the increase in population.

27. The partition of the country in 1947 made the food problem worse for the Indian Union, as large parts of the highly developed canal-irrigated areas were included in Western Pakistan. Of the total of 400,000 cusecs of water carried by the canals of undivided India, nearly half is carried by the canals now in Pakistan and of the total of 24 million acres of land irrigated by State-controlled canals in undivided India, a little more than half now lies in Pakistan. This has added to the seriousness of the food situation in the Indian Union. With 18 % of the population of undivided India, Pakistan has 23% of the total area, 32% of the rice, 35% of the wheat and 25 % of all the foodgrains of undivided India. It has been estimated that the territories comprising India depended, prior to the partition, for about one million^tons of foodgrains annually on the areas now in Pakistan.

28. The food problem has been dealt with elsewhere ; it is sufficient here to state that India can produce all that is needed to ensure progressively improving standards of nutrition for its increasing population.

  1. By utilising its water resources to the fullest extent practicable. The Planning Commisson has calculated that it will be necessary to double the area under irrigation within the next 15 to 20 years if the food problem is to be solved.
  2. Secondly and concurrently with this, by improving the standards of agricultural practice through the application of the results of scientific research to agriculture.

29. Power—Cheap electric power is essential for the development of a country. In fact, modern life depends so largely on the use of electricity that the quantity of electricity used per capita in a country is an index of its material developmeat and of the standard of living attained in it. Apart from its use in industrial undertakings, electricity has a remarkable diversity of application. Electricity can provide cheap power for pumping water for irrigation and for numerous operations in agriculture and in the home. Extensive use of electricity can bring about the much needed change in rural life in India. It cannot only improve methods of production in agriculture and encourage cottage and small scale industries but can also make life in rural areas much more attractive and thus help in arresting the influx of rural population into cities.

30. The use of electricity in India is very limited at present. The average per capita consumption of electricity is only 14 kWh per year (as compared with 1100 kWh in the United Kingdom, 2207 kWh in the United States of America and 3905 in Canada) and in a number of States the average is below one unit per year (see Table 4). Only five States have a per capita consumption higher than the average mentioned above for the country as a whole. Apart from this as stated already in paragraph 23 above, the development of power in India is unbalanced as between urben and rural areas. About 3 % of the country's population in six large towns get the benefits of 56 % of the total public utility installations.

31. There are many areas where the need for more electricity is immediate, in these areas, the growth of plant capacity has not been able to keep pace with the growth of load since 1940. There is an acute shortage of power in the Bombay area, Delhi, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Madras and West Bengal. To meet the normal growth of load, which received an impetus during the years of the war, all available spare .capacity was put under operation and in many installations there is no stand-by plant. During the years of -war and after its end, it has not been possible to obtain additional plant or replacement. Several restrictions have had to be imposed on new connections and-dev^.ces like staggering of holidays and of working hours have had to be adopted to meet the minimum demands of industry. The economic development of the areas concerned is thus under check. Apart from the above many of the generating units have outgrown their useful life and need replacement. Of the total installed capacity of 1,004,000 kW of public utility steam plants, it has been estimated that over 100,000 kW would have been in service for more than 25 years and would have to be retired now or in the near future.

32. Electricity has a great scope in India in the development of agriculture and related activities. Since 1933 when State tube-well schemes were first taken up in Uttar Pradesh, there has been an increasing demand for electricity for tube-well pumping. Further, as a part of the " Grow More Food Campaign ", pumping units have been installed on rivers or wells for agricultural purposes. The supply of cheap electric power is essential for large scale development of tube-wells or lift irrigation from rivers. In 1948, about 35% of the electric energy generated by the Ganga Canal Grid in Uttar Pradesh (about 61 million kWh) was utilised for pumping of irrigation supplies with about 2,200 tube wells, owned and operated by the State. In Madras and Mysore, irrigation pumping is mostly done from open wells or tanks. In 1949 there were about 12,500 such consumers in Madras State alone, and they took about 11- 2% of the energy sold by the public uti-lities. About 20,000 applications for further connections are stated to be on, the waiting list because of the shortage of plant capacity. In Travancore-Cochin,, electricity is in use on a large-scale, for de-watering of marshy lands. An idea of the growing importance of the use of electricity for agricultural purposes can be had from the following figures which show the trend in consumption of electricity for irrigation and agricultural de-watering in the Indian Union in recent years.

Year Consumption in million kWh for irrigation and agricultural dewatering.
1939 64
1945 93
1947 125
1949 150

There are also other agricultural operations for which electricity will be in demand as people are trained in its use—viz., processing of agricultural produce, cold storage, preservation and canning of fruit and farm produce, dairy farming, poultry breeding. Cottage industries can be developed on an economic basis with the provision of electricity to- rural areas and by the use of electrically worked appliances or small units of machinery.

33. Other water uses—Transport of goods by water is generally cheaper than transport by rail. Also, in times of emergency, alternative means of transport are of great importance to the defence and security of the country. With the storage of flood waters by dams and their gradual release for purposes of hydro-electric generation, new possibilities have been opened up for the development of inland transport. In every river valley development the possibilities of inland navigation must be investigated and integrated with the overall development.

34. The damage which occurs every year on account of floods has been referred to earlier. Destruction of crops and dwelling houses and dislocation of communications by floods are a normal feature in certain riverine areas, specially in Assam, Bihar, Bengal, parts of Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. In southern and central India, tanks breach annually due to heavy and uncontrolled floods and are rendered unserviceable. The total loss to the country directly due to these floods and indirectly through loss in production has not been estimated but it is admittedly heavy. As already stated, flood control measures must be considered as a part of river valley development in case of each multi-purpose project.

35. The problem of soil conservation which has received little active consideration in India until recently, has been dealt with in an earlier Chapter. Here it is only necessary to emphasise the importance of soil conservation in the development of water rsesources and in extending the useful life of reservoirs, made by the construction of high dams. Unless special measures are taken in the catchment area above these dams to reduce, by suitable soil conservation measures, the washing away of soil by rain water, the detritus carried by flowing water will be deposited in these reservoirs and their capacities seriously impaired. Such measures should form an integral part of every large irrigation project.

Development Under The Plan

Need for a national policy

36. It has been shown that for increasing the production of food and other agricultural produce, it is necessary that irrigation projects should be undertaken wherever there are facilities for such projects. The need for cheap power for tube-well and pump irrigation and for cottage and small-scale industries has also been emphasised. Upto 1920, irrigation projects were sponsored by the Central Government. In that year came constitutional changes under which all irrigation and power developments became the responsibility of State Governments. Since 1945, however, the Central Government has been encouraging and actively assisting in such projects recognizing that, while the initiative of States in these fields should remain unimpaired, there should be a national policy in regard to them. The reasons for this can be easily stated. In the first place, it is not in all parts of India that facilities exist for irrigation, and .where these exist they should be fully developed in the interests of the food requirements of the nation as a whole . As the Irrigation Commission (1901-3) has said:—

" Every extension of irrigation increases the security of the food supply of the country in years of drought, and, in these days of cheap railway freights, the produce of irrigation can be carried to those parts in which it is most required. For these reasons we think that the programmes of future expenditure on irrigation works should provide for the construction of as many productive works as can be proposed, in whatever parts of the country they are situated, and without reference to the urgency of protection for the locality. Promising projects could be held in abeyance only when funds cannot be allotted for them without interrupting progress on irrigation works of any kind which have been actually commenced, or withholding money from works more urgently required for protective reasons or when adequate establishment is not available for carrying out the works ; when the success of the works depends upon colonization operations which it may be more convenient on general grounds to postpone. "

Recent experience has demonstrated that the food problem is one for India as a whole which can be solved only by All India measures. Secondly, the works that are now in progress and those that remain to be taken up present more difficult engineering and other problems than those already completed. In most cases, the construction of high dams is necessary and technical questions of extreme complexity arise in their design. Modern mechanical methods have to be adopted in their execution. All this calls for the pooling of the best knowledge and resources available in the country and arrangements for training of technical staff on a large scale.

Thirdly, river valleys are not confined to State boundaries and development schemes of different States have to be co-ordinated and interrelated for the achievement of maximum results. Water stored in a reservoir in one State may have to irrigate areas in others and power generated in one State is consumed in other States. In such cases, agencies for joint investigation and management may have to be organized.

Fourthly, large projects call for financial outlays which are beyond the financial resources of States and which cannot be taken up unless Central assistance can be made available from year to year over a fairly long period on a carefully arranged programme.

37. As already stated natural waters have many uses for the community, their optimum development is therefore possible only if all such uses are co-ordinated. The use of stored waters for irrigation and their use for the development of power generally require different systems of escapages from the reservoir. Some of the difficulties on this account can be solved by suitable engineering works and techniques, but there are others which make the two uses of water mutually exclusive to some extent and ultimately it is necessary to decide how far the use of water for one purpose should give way to its use for another in the larger interests of the community. The requirements of navigation are also generally different from those of irrigation ; these have more in common with the requirements of power. Flood control is partially achieved when river water is used directly for irrigation ; storage makes flood control more effective. With suitable provisions in the design of dams, it would be possible, at small additional cost, to provide for adequate flood protection. The development of fisheries and of recreation facilities are other uses of natural waters which can be secured for the community at a moderate cost. It is necessary that in all new projects co-ordinated effort should be made to provide for the varied requirements of the community for irrigation, power generation, flood-control, navigation, fisheries development and recreation.

38. It has been stated in paragraph 28 above that the aim before the country should be the doubling of the area under irrigation in 15 to 20 years or in other words, to provide new irrigation facilities to 40 to 45 million acres. Similarly, there must be an increase in the present low per capita consumption of electricity in the country. An examination of the new irrigation and power projects, that are under construction, under investigation or only under consideration throughout the country, shows that it will cost about Rs. 2,000 crores to construct all these projects which will add 40 to 45 million acres to the area now under irrigation and create an additional power-generating capacity of about 7 million kW. We are convinced that it is only by the implementation of a programme of this magnitude and by intensive measures for improving the standard of agricultural practice and for the promotion of cottage arid small-scale industries in addition to large scale industries that an appreciable rise in the standard of living in the country can be achieved.

39. A large multi-purpose river valley project takes from two to five years for detailed investigation and preparation of plans, etc. and five to ten years for construction. The organisation of the technical and other personnel and the mechanical equipment needed for them must therefore be carefully devised. The most economical phasing of large projects and a programme of construction would be possible only if there is a long term plan carefully framed with accurate financial estimates and with due regard to the technical resources and equipment available.

Basis Of The Plan

40. During the last six years, there has been considerable activity in all parts of the country in new irrigation and power projects. A number of projects—some multi-purpose and others only for irrigation—were sanctioned soon after the end of World War II. On some of these, works were started before the completion of detailed investigations and of economic studies necessary to obtain a correct appraisal of the technical and financial aspects of the projects. The total cost of irrigation and power schemes which were under construction in 1951 would on completion be Rs. 765 crores ; a sum of Rs. 153 crores had already been spent on them up to 3ist March, 1951. There can be no question that these projects must be completed as quickly as possible so that-the expenditure already incurred on them may be put to productive use and the benefits particularly by way of additional food, may be secured quickly. This is an important consideration in the proposals formulated by us. Whatever views we may hold about the relative importance or merits of the projects under construction or those not yet started, the highest priority must be given to projects on which considerable sums of money have already been spent. We have, however, during the course of our discussions with the representatives of State Governments, impressed upon them the vital importance of giving a high priority to projects or parts of projects which will provide additional food and have recommended that the programme of construction of some of the bigger multi-purpose projects should in consequence, be suitably modified. After incorporating such changes as have been agreed upon, it appears that an expenditure ofRs. 518 crores will have to be incurred on the schemes already in progress during the five year period of the plan and of this a sum of Rs. 266 crores will have to be spent in the first two years of the plan. As a large slice of the total developmental expenditure included in the plan has to be set apart for the completion of irrigation and power projects already under construction, it has not been possible to include many new "works of irrigation and power development in the Five Year Plan. Particularly, during the first three years of the plan, when the expenditure on projects already under construction would be relatively high, it is not possible to incur large expenditure on any new work. Thus the Five Year Plan for irrigation and power aims mainly at the completion of the projects already under construction.

41. In the preparation of this plan, as already stated, projects likely to yield additional food at an early date, have been given preference over others and the large multi-purpose projects have been phased with a view to the early completion of their irrigation aspects ; the power generation is carefully regulated and taken up in stages as the demand arises. In our discussions with State Governments, we have laid great emphasis on proper planning for the development of load for every large generating unit. The pattern of power utilisation has to be laid down in advance and development of generating capacity co-ordinated with the development of load so that there is as little lag as possible between power generation and its utilisation.

42. As already stated it would not be correct to say of all the projects included in the plan that works were started after detailed technical investigation and careful assessment of the economic aspects. The inclusion of a project in the plan does not, therefore, dispense with the need for periodical reviews of it at definite stages. A large project usually comprises a number of distinct units or groups of connected works ; and, as technical and other investigation in regard to each such group is completed, it would be desirable to review the economic and financial aspects of the project as a whole, and where necessary, to modify the scope of the project or portions of it. After a review of the Bhakra, the Damodar Valley and Hirakud projects, the programme of construction and the portions of the projects to be included in the First Five Year Plan have been suitably revised.

43. As stated above, the yearly expenditure on works already under construction is high in the first three years and falls off from the fourth year. As a result, unless new works are taken up, it will not be possible to utilise to the full in the latter part of the plan, the technical and other resources built up over a number of years. To meet this situation and also the need that has been felt for including in the plan other urgent works, especially in backward areas, a few new projects have been selected work on which will be taken up in the latter part of the plan. The expenditure on these projects^during the period of this plan will be a small proportion of their total cost, but their inclusion in the plan, at this stage, will secure continuity of development from the first to the second Five Year Plan.

44. -Important particulars of all the irrigation and power projects included in the Five Year Plan, the cost and annual expenditure, on each and the likely benefits are given in Statement V of the supplementary Volume on Development Schemes in the First Five Year Plan of the Report. An abstract is shown in Table 5. The projects already under construction are, on the basis of sanctioned estimates, expected to cost, on completion, Rs. 765 crores. On these an expenditure of Rs. 153 crores. had been iacnrred up to the end of March 1951. During the Five-Year period covered by the Plan, it was originally proposed to spend Rs. 448 crores on these schemes. It is, however, understood that on account of increased cost of constructions, changes in the scope of some of •tie projects and for other reasons, it will be necessary to spend during the period of the lan, an additional sum of Rs. 50 crores on the multi-purpose projects and Rs. 16 crores on the State Irrigation and Power Schemes listed in the Statement V In addition to the above, the plan provides a sum ofRs. 3.6 crores for expenditure on Irrigation and Power projects in Jammu and Kashmir State. The projects under construction are calculated to irrigate an additional area of 8.5 million acres in the last year of the Plan- and to generate i. 08 million kilowatts of additional power. After the completion and full development of these projects, the total addition to the area irrigated will be 16.9 million acres and to power i .4 million kilowatts.

45. The question of new projects to be included in the Plan has received our careful attention. The claims of large numbers of new projects, many of which have not been thoroughly investigated, have been pressed upon us by State Governments. After a careful consideration of the resources that can be made available, we have decided to include in the Plan the following five major irrigation and power projects, for which project .reports, and plans and estimates have been prepared—

Name of Project Area served

Total estimated cost(Rs. lakhs)

Ultimate benefits
Irrigation Power 'ooo acres 'ooo kW installed
Kosi (Stage I) Bihar and Nepal 16,00 2,620 40 also flood control
Koyna (Stage I) . Bombay 33.00   240
Krishana (scope not defined) yet Madras and Hyderabad Not available Not available
Chambal (Stage I) Madhya Bharat and Rajasthan. 33.75 1,200 80
Rihand Uttar Pradesh 35.00   240

The total cost of these projects will be well over Rs. 200 crores, out of which it is expected that it might be possible to spend Rs. 40 crores on them during the period of the Plan. The financial and technical responsibility of the Central Government and of the State Governments concerned with regard to these projects (and of the Government of Nepal with regard to the Kosi Project) and the programme of their construction will be settled before work is commenced on any project.

46. The annual expenditure on and likely benefits from all projects, year by year, would be as follows—

Year Expenditure (Rs. crores) Additional irrigation facres) (progressive) Additional Power (kW) (Progressive)
1951—52 85 646,000 58,000
1952—53 121 1,890,000 239,000
1953—54 127 3,555,000 724,000
1954—55 Joy 5,749,000 875,000
1955—60 78 8,533,000 1,082,000
Ultimate :   16,942,000* 1,465,000
New Schemes 40    
Five years' total 558    

Excludes benefit from new scheme*.

47.. In addition, there are a large number of small schemes, construction of wells, renovation of tanks, improvements to small streams and rivulets, etc. which are classed as ' minor irrigation works ' and have been included in Chapter XIV under the programme for agricultural development. These minor irrigation works are estimated to cost Rs. 47 crores during the period of the Plan. -A large portion of expenditure on these schemes would be by way of subsidies, loans etc. to individuals or societies who will contribute similar or greater share of the expenditure on such schemes. These works are expected to bring an additional area of 8 • 2 million acres, under irrigation by 1955-55. In addition it is proposed to earmark another Rs. 30 crores for minor and medium irrigation works, which will bring a further 3 million acres under irrigation.

The schemes included in the Five Year Plan are expected to utilise about loo million acre-feet of water per annum in a normal year. This figure is only approximate and constitutes 7 per cent. of the total utilizable water resources of the country.

48. In the field of power apart from the schemes included in the Five Year Plan, undertaken by the State Governments, there are a few extension projects of private electricity undertakings which are expected to be executed during the period of the Plan and will add 176,000 kW of installed capacity. The more important of these are the proposed extensions of the Ahmedabad Electric Co., the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation and the Tata's Power Installations.

Utilization Of Power

49. The following table shows region-wise the expansion in power generation and anticipated load during the period of the Five Year Plan. The three multi-purpose projects have been shown separately in the table. It will be seen that the total increase in generating capacity would be 1-08 million kW in the public sector, of which 338,000 kW or one third would be contributed by the three multi-purpose projects. The power benefits from these projects during this period represent however only the first state of development, their ultimate capacity on full development being about one million kW—

  Additions anticipated by 1955-515 in thousand kW.
Installed capacity Firm power Anticipated load
i. Multi-purpose projects :
(i) Bhakra Nangal 96 72 69
(n) Damodar Valley 194 144 132
(m) Hirakud Dam 48 24 24
2. Madras, Mysore, Hyderabad      
and Travancore-Cochin . 402 51-1 639
3. Bombay area 83 358* 41
4. Bihar, Bengal and Madhya Pradesh 88 65 101
'5. Uttar Pradesh 109 157* 14
6. Projects in other areas . 62 66* 66
total 1,082 1.397 l594

In the case of projects whose power is fed into an existing power system the firm power of the entire power system has been taken with the corresponding anticipated load on the system as a whole. Projectwise details of installed capacity, firm-power, and anticipated load for the above table are given in Statement V of the supplementary Volume on Development Schemes in 1,he First Five Year Plan.IRRIGATION AND POWER 353

As the need for irrigation is urgent, the projects have been so phased that full development of irrigation is achieved as soon as possible,-and the development of power is taken up in stages according as demand grows. Production of power on a large scale much in advance of actual needs locks up capital and lowers returns on projects. Further additions of generating units will therefore, be made only as and when additional demands arise, but provision for installing additional units has to be made in the designs of dams and other works.

50. The position regarding utilisation of the power generated may be briefly reviewed. The multi-purpose projects—In the Bhakra-Nangal Project, the load figures indicated in the above table are tentative pending the compilation of the results of a load survey which is in progress. These figures include a supply of about 20,000 kW to Delhi and also provide for electrification of 27 towns in Punjab, supply to 10 small Government-owned undertakings and 14 private licensees and to existing industries which at present generate their own power in relatively small, inefficient thermal units. Provision has also been made for bulk supply to PEPSU, Rajasthan, Bilaspur and Himachal Pradesh. A load survey has been carried out in the Damodar Valley Project area. The present and prospective demands for power have been assessed on the basis of factual data, although there may be a time lag in ths development of a part of the estimated demand as this includes conversion to electricity of installations employing about 136,000 HP. of steam and oil engines which are old and have to be replaced. In the Hirakud Project, the initial load of 20,000 k\7 comprises existing loads like those of colliery and towns ; supplies to two textile mills and to a cement factory at Rajgangpur ; and rural loads in the delta area including small scale pumping installations for irrigation purposes. Negotiations are in progress for the setting up of an aluminium plant and a ferro-manganese plant in this area. These two will require about 35,000 kW of power. Madras, Mysore, Hyderabad and Travancore-Cochin— The total addition to generating capacity in this region would be 402,000 kW of which 196,000 kW would be in Madras, 72,000 kW in Mysore, 53,000 kW in Hyderabad and 81,000 kW in Travancore-Cochin. In the case of Madras, the demands already in sight total 169,000 kW as numbers of applications for power connections from both industrial and agricultural users (mainly for irrigation pumping) are pending in the State. In Mysore, there would be an additional capacity of 72,000 kW in the period of the Plan but the load forecast as made by the State Government shows that the demand will exceed available capacity by 1953-54, as certain firm commitments have to be met like the three pig iron furnaces at Bhadravati, power supply to Madras and Bombay States, and power supply to about 2000 pumping sets in addition to the normal load growth. In Travancore-Cochin the available generating capacity will be taken up by 1955-56, when a total load of 84,500 kW is expected to be reached.

Bombay area—In the Bombay industrial region there has been acute power shortage since 1948. The additions to generating capacity, totalling 108,000 kW, which are already in progress will be just sufficient to meet the demand up to t!-ieendofi953. To meet the subsequent increases in demand for power, the Tata Power Co. have been recently permitted to build a 100,000 kW steam station at Trombay.

The other important power schemes in Bombay State are the North and South Gujerat Grid and expansion of the Ahmedabad Electric Supply Co. The latter will meet the increased demand in Ahmedabad city and also supply 18,000 kW to the North Gujerat Grid. Power from the North Gujerat grids will be supplied to licensees in the towns of Gujerat and will also be available for industries and for irrigation pumping.

Uttar Pradesh—In U.P. the total additions to generating capacity would be 109,000 kW made up of installations at the new power stations of Sarda, Pathri, Mohammadpur and the Eastern Area Power Station (at Mau), and additions to the existing station at Kanpur. Part of the power from the Sarda power station will be consumed by tube-wells and industries like sugar factories and oil mills, and about 10,000 kW will be exported to the Ganga Canal Grid. This power along with the additions at Mohammadpur and Pathri will increase the power supply in the Grid by 40,000 kW. The increase will relieve the existing shortage of power in the area due to which restrictions like staggering of power to tube-wells and for other uses have been in force. It will also meet the needs arising from the tube-well construction programme in the area. The 15,000 kW extension at Kanpur will meet additional demand that already exists. Power from the Eastern Area station will be utilised for tube-wells and for meeting the demand of the small towns in eastern U. P.

51. Additions to generating capacity in the private sector are expected to total about 176,000 kW in the period of the Plan. These will consist mainly of extensions to the existing steam stations at Calcutta, Ahmedabad and Lucknow, and a new steam station at Trombay. They will meet the load growth in areas served by these power systems.

A rough estimate has been made below of consumption of electricity
by different types of uses in 1950 and 1955 :—

Type of use Consumption of electricity in million kWh

Percentage in-;rease in
1955 over1950

1950 Percentage of total 1950 1955 Percentage of total 1955
Domestic Light and power 525 13 86o 13 64
Commercial Light and power 309 7 430 7 39
Industrial 2,604 63 4,100 3 58
Irrigation 162 4 332 5 105
Other purposes 558 13 752 12 35
total 4,158 100 474 100 56

Not*. Industries generate part of their power requirements in their own stations. The above figures indicate only their demands on public utilities. Industries are the largest users of power (taking about two-thirds of the total) followed by domestic and commercial users. Irrigation takes up about 4 per cent of the power consumed. Consumption for irrigation, however, is expected to more than double itself during this period. Industrial demands will increase by about 60 percent, the increases being due to increased pro ductioa partly by fuller utilization of the existing capacity in industries like cotton textiles and sugar, and partly by additions to capacity in industries like iron and steel, heavy chemicals, fertilizers and agricultural machinery.

52. At present irrigation and electricity projects are primarily a responsibility of State Governments with co-ordination provided by the Central Water and Power Commission. In several States, particularly those in which development projects have been under execution during the last 30 years, a high degree of technical, financial and administrative efficiency is obtained. In others, however, the existing organization is not at present capable of executing large projects. The Central Water and Power Commission is being built up to render such assistance to the State Governments as may be required in connection with the planning, design and construction of large irrigation and power projects. The implementation of a plan of the dimensions now set out, calls for such a central organization to —

  1. render effective assistance to such State Governments as apply for it in the planning of projects, preparation of detailed designs and specifications or in the execution of works ;
  2. advise on the mechanical equipment needed and the best way of'obtaining this ;help in recruiting and training suitable staff for working the equipment ; and arrange for the transfer of machinery and staff from one project to another as may be needed ;
  3. arrange for the training of engineers, in the design and construction of dams and large power plants under construction ;
  4. arrange for the most suitable employment of engineers trained in India and abroad on the construction and execution of large projects ;
  5. advise on the recruitment of foreign personnel when required and circulate reports made by foreign and Indian experts to those States in which these reports are likely to be useful; and
  6. in other ways enable State Governments to maintain high standards in the design, execution and operation of irrigation and power projects.

53. Practically, all the major rivers of .India run through more than one State and the supplies in each river can certainly be used with advantage, in almost all cases, by more than one State. To get maximum results, therefore, co-ordination between the requirements of different States is essential. It has been the policy of the Government of India since 1866 that the waters of a river should be utilized tp the best possible advantage, in the tracts commanded, irrespective of provincial or State boundaries. The Central Government under the Constitution, is charged with the responsibility of " regulation and development of inter-State rivers and river valleys to the extent to which such regulation and development under the control of the Union is declared by Parliament by law to be expedient in the public interest". The Central Government in consultation with State Governments is considering measures needed to ensure that activities of different States in the same river valley are co-ordinated and that such differences as arise are resolved without undue delay. Recently with a view to the development of the Krishna and Godavari waters, the Governments of Bombay, Madras, Mysore, Hyderabad and Madhya Pradesh, at a meeting convened by the Planning Commission, reached agreements regarding the utilization of the available waters of these two rivers.

54. States can also co-operate with mutual advantage in the development of power particularly from hydro-electric sources. Good sites for hydro-electric power do not exist ip every State. Where suitable sites do exist large blocks of power can be produced, all of which cannot be utilized within the State in which the site is located. Co-operation between States for the development of power may be by their jointly developing a hydro-electric power source ;by one State purchasing power in bulk from another ; or by the inter-change of power between different power systems in adjoining States. There are examples of such inter-State co-operation. The Machkund hydro-electric station is being developed by Madras jointly with Orissa. The Bombay Government will be taking bulk power from the Jog hydro-electric power station in Mysore. The power lines of Travancore-Cochin are connected with the Madras Hydro System and a new agreement is being finalized between Madras and Mysore. Such co-operation is also possible in connection with large thermal plants. The Bokaro thermal station is being constructed jointly by Bihar and Bengal through the agency of the Damodar Valley Corporation. There are possibilities of co-operative utilization by Punjab, Pepsu, Rajasthan, Delhi and U. P. of the power to be developed at Bhakra and by Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and adjoining areas from Hirakud. Such arrangements are to the mutual advantage'of participating States and the Central Water and Power Commission should assist in furthering such agreements wherever possible.

55. As soon as practicable, a comprehensive long range plan of inter-connecting the existing and new hydro-electric and thermal stations should be worked out for the country as a whole or for large regions in it and so far as possible each new power project should, subject to economic and technical considerations involved, form part of National Power Systems.

56. The supply of irrigation waters to areas previously undeveloped, or to those which had an indifferent or precarious type of cultivation before, creates new problems. The cultivation of areas hitherto barren creates problems of colonization, of land reform, new townships, new means of communication and transport. Different departments of the Central and State Governments have to co-operate effectively to secure rapid development. Similarly the creation of large blocks of electric power has to be accompanied by efforts to use the energy. For this, new industries have to be set up and agricultural methods and practices have to be adjusted to the availability of cheap power. It is essential that in connection with every large-irrigation and power project. State Governments should set up suitable machinery to secure full development as quickly and as effectively as possible.

Economics And Financing Of Irrigation Projects

57. Irrigation works are classified broadly as productive or unproductive. Projects, the direct net revenues from which can pay the interest charges on the capital investment are regarded as productive and are financed from public loans. Those that do not comply with this condition are called unproductive and are financed from general revenues or special grants. Irrigation works constructed in recent years, and those that are now under construction or contemplation are much more expensive than those built in the past, partly on account of the comparatively high price level and partly on account of the more difficult and therefore costly means of making the supplies available, like high dams. For this reason and on account of the increased cost of maintenance and operation of these works, new projects can satisfy the productivity test only if the old revenue structure is suitably modified. It is, therefore, necessary to examine, in some detail, the revenue structure of irrigation projects and the directions in which it should be modified.

58. Charges for water supplies for irrigation from government canals and works are levied differently in different States. In general, such charges comprise one or more of the following elements :

  1. Water-rate—This is a charge dependent on the kind and extent of crops grown and is based on the quantity of water required by the crop and the advantage derived from the use of it by the cultivator. It has no relation to the cost of supplying the water.
  2. An increment in land revenue—This is based on the increased benefit derived annually by the landlord on account of provisions of irrigation supplies. It sometimes takes initially the form of water advantage rate or canal advantage rate and is merged with the land revenue at the settlement following the construction of a canal.
  3. Betterment levy—This represents the government's share in the increase in the value of land that accrues as a result of the provision of irrigation facilities. This is levied only once when irrigation facilities are provided for the first time and'the value of the land increases appreciably on this account. It may be recovered in a lump sum or by instalments spread over a number of years or in the form of land.
  4. Irrigation cess—In areas \vhere irrigation supplies are not required in years or periods of favourable rainfall conditions and are in demand only when the rains fail or are delayed, an annual charge is levied for every acre, of the area irrigable from a project whether water is actually taken for irrigation 01 not.

59. In some States such as Punjab, Pepsu and Rajasthan all irrigation supplies will be used when provided and there is therefore no necessity for levying any irrigation cess ; the entire anticipated water-rate will be recovered every year. In areas where the whole of the irrigable area under a project is irrigated every year with more or less the same kind of crop (for example rice in large parts of southern India), the water-rate can be and is generally amalgamated with the land revenue. On the other hand, in northern India where the entire irrigable area cannot be irrigated every year for want of sufficient water supplies and where the nature of the crop grown varies from year to year, the water-rate has to be distinct from land revenue.

60. As the projects now under construction are considerably more costly than projects executed in the past and also the cost of maintenance and operation is higher than before. State Governments should re-examine the water-rates etc., which they recover from the cultivators for the supplies of irrigation waters. Where the demand for irrigation fluctuates from year to year and the available supplies .are not always fully utilized, the levy of an irrigation cess is justified. Where water-rates were determined many years ago and there has since been a considerable increase in the value'of the crops produced, there is justification for an increasein these rates. In fact, it would be sound practice to fix water rates on a sliding scale as a definite function of the value, from time to time, of the out-turn from irrigated crops. Another possible source of income can be agricultural income-tax, the likely yields from which in the period of the plan have been included in the statement of resources.

61. Lands which are irrigated by major projects increase in value substantially and it is certainly equitable that the individuals who derive this " unearned " increment by the efforts of the community at large should be required to share this increment with the community. The price of land, which was originally dry land, increases in every case after the construction of an irrigation project on account of the availability of canal water and with it of assured crops. If the State obtains a share of this unearned increment from the persons who happen to own the land, the proceeds can be utilized in defraying a part of the capital cost of the projects and in this way projects which would otherwise be un-remunerative will become remunerative. Also, such amounts will be available to finance other projects.

62. Betterment fee, or a share in the unearned increase in land values, as a result of irrigation schemes has been levied at various times in the past in India and other countries. A betterment tax has been in vogue in Mysore from as far back as 1888. The contribution per acre is fixed from a third to a half of the difference between the local market values of an acre of dry land and of an acre of wet land. The nature of irrigation supplies, the quality of soil and the agricultural labour available are all taken into account in fixing the market value of wet land. Under the Irwin Canal System, the land owner executes an agreement to pay a contribution ofRs. 150 per acre either by instalments or in a lump sum, a rebate of 7 per cent being allowed in the latter case. A betterment levy was proposed to be levied in 1920 on the Sind Sagar Doab scheme but the construction of the project was postponed. When the project was taken up again as the new Thal Canal (now in West Punjab), it was decided to levy a betterment fee of Rs. 30 per acre.

63. The amount of betterment^levy or inclusion fee has sometimes been determined, in the past, on considerations all of which^were not relevant. Strictly speaking, betterment fee should not be based on the profits or increased profits from the land irrigated by a project. It may have some relation to the cost of the project but should be based mainly on the increase in the value of the land as a result of the facilities provided by the project. Betterment levy cannot, however, be uniform in all cases ; all the factors that contribute to the increase in land values must be taken into consideration. These factors include soil classification, and nature of irrigation facilities—perennial, non-perennial etc. A Sub-Committee of the Bombay Cabinet proposed that a maximum of 50 per cent of the increase in value of the land should be recovered as a betterment levy, and this proposal has been accepted and embodied in the Bombay Act passed recently.

64. Another important point is the manner of recovery of the betterment levy. This may be effected in one of the following ways :—

  1. The total amount in rupees may be recovered in one lump sum.
  2. The total sum to be recovered in cash may be spread over a number of years, depending on the economic condition of the land-owners and their ability to pay, or in lieu of cash, the levy may take the form of a share in the produce during the period over which the payment is spread. This may assist in overcoming procurement difficulties, so long as procurement remains.
  3. As an alternative to (z) and in lieu of cash recovery, sufficient land may be surrendered by the landowner to Government at the pre-project rates. Where there are large holdings, this is preferable to recovery in cash.

65. An important point to be considered in connection with new irrigation projects is the necessity of preventing speculation in land that occurs when it is decided to proceed with an irrigation project in any area. Different methods have been adopted to reduce speculation in irrigable land and to control land prices. One is to nationalise all land under the project or to purchase the land at the current pre-proJect rate and then sell it at increased prices after the project is completed. This was contemplated in the Sind Sagar project (Sind Sagar Act of 1902). Another method is to freeze all land coming under the command of the proposed irrigation project. An example of the latter is the anti-speculation law on the Columbia Project in the United States of America". This Act requires landowners to agree to sell holdings over a certain specified maximum area at a fair government appraised price. Water is denied to holdings over this limit and to land over this limit which is sold for more than the fair government appraised price. The Act does not deprive any landowner of his right to buy or sell freely at any nrice that is landowner's inherent right ; unless the landowner contracts with the Government to comply with the provisions of the Act, water is not supplied to him; In presenting this Bill to the Senate Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation, President Roosevelt indicated that in his judgment "construction of the high dam should be dependent on the elimination of private profits, speculative or otherwise, which would result on the proposed action by the Federal Government." If State governments enact laws for levy of betterment contribution, these by themselves will have the effect of discouraging speculation. In special cases where other steps are needed, the States should announce them before individual projects are sanctioned.

66. The Planning Commission has already recommended to State governments the desirability of taking steps to levy betterment fee on all new irrigation projects. This system is already in vogue in Mysore; Bombay, Hyderabad and Punjab have recently enacted legislation. The Government of Rajasthan have drafted a bill; Madras, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, West -Bengal and Travancore-Cochin have accepted the principle of the levy and are taking steps to promote necessary legislation. We recommend that all State governments who have not so far done this should take steps to promote necessary legislation for levy of betterment fee on all new irrigation projects. Power should be taken to levy betterment contribution in the form of land from the larger holdings. By this means it will be possible to obtain the lands needed for resettling persons whose holdings are submerged by reservoirs; for community use, namely village forests and grazing, markets, roads etc.; for effecting improvements in the agricultural economy by bringing about consolidation of holdings, making uneconomic holdings into economic holdings, assigning lands to landless labourers ; and in other ways. The people in the region should be actively associated with all steps taken for the formulation of schemes of this character and their implementation.

67. There is another manner in which the people residing in areas which will benefit by such projects can be enabled to assist in their execution. The States concerned may raise loans from them, which can be ear-marked for the projects. A scheme is being worked out for this purpose.

Economics And Financing Of Power Projects

68. Except in Mysore, all electrical developments in the country up to 1932 were mainly due to private enterprise. It was only in 1933 that State-owned hydro-electric installations were set up one each in Madras and Punjab. Since then State Governments have taken increasing interest in the development of electricity as a State concern. The administration and financing of electricity undertakings by Government followed the usual Public Works Department methods and practice for productive public works. In building up tariffs for the sale of electricity from Government managed schemes, apart from other considerations which are usually taken into account, the total revenue from a scheme has to be higher than the interest, depreciation and operation charges so that the scheme can qualify as a productive public work to be financed from public loans. This has presented no serious difficulty in the past and many government undertakings have generally proved productive.

69. The rate structure or tariff of an electric supply scheme is based on factors and conditions which are well known. It has been accepted in principle that electric supply, being a public utility service, should be run on a no-profit basis and when it is privately managed and operated, the profits should be limited. The Electricity Supply Act (1948) lays down as a reasonable return, 5 per cent on the capital base for all licencees, not being a local authority. The average revenue as realised from different groups of consumers no less by all public electricity undertakings in India in the year 1949 were as follows :

  All-India average annas per kWh
Residential and commercial
Large industries 0-5
Electric traction 0-56
Overall. 0-95

70. It has been stated before that there is a large scope for the development of electric power in India. It does not follow from this that large blocks of power when produced would be utilised automatically without any effort on the part of the State. The pattern of power utilization has to be laid down in advance and the load development has to be carefully planned for every large generating unit. The development of power generating capacity should be co-ordinated with the development of load. If the lag between powei generation and load building is long, interest charges on capital mount up and make the undertaking uneconomic. Load planning for any large power system is integrally related to the industrial and economic planning of the regions within a reasonable distance of the generating station. Carefullyworked out schemes for building up the load must be planned and executed along with schemes of generation. Every State government should set up suitable machinery to-secure full development of the load as quickly and effectively as possible.

71. The public utilities in India with the exception of a few have hitherto operated comparatively small blocks of power and they have not always followed an active sales promotion policy The need for such a policy, particularly in areas where the people are not yet electricity minded, is obvious. Systematic propaganda, special campaigns for the development of load and concessions, and inducements to the people to set up new industries should be a regular feature of all State electricity undertakings in regions where large blocks of power are being produced. A special fund should be set up for this purpose.

Irrigation Development (Ways And Means) Fund

72. In October, 1950, the Planning Commission suggested to State governments the creation of a non-lapsable Irrigation Development Fund. As has been stated previously, since 1866 all productive irrigation works have been financed from public loans raised for the purpose. This policy has been fully justified by the net direct revenue earned by the canals in undivided India, which after deducting cost of maintenance and operation represented about 8 per cent of the outlay. Financing of irrigation projects by loans has however led to difficulties at certain periods. Projects could only be taken up when Government either had surplus funds or could easily raise loans in the market. Such periods generally correspond to periods of high prices. During periods of slump, when prices are low. Governments seldom have surplus funds for development works, and it is equally difficult for them to raise loans during such times. There is another important drawback. Large scale river valley projects involving the construction of high dams and long lengths of canal generally take from four to ten years to complete and it is difficult under such a system to guarantee sufficient funds from year to year to enable the works to be executed on the most economic basis. It happens, therefore, that sometimes projects are rushed through and taken up for construction without full investigation. At other times, after investigations have been completed, projects have to be shelved or postponed for want of finances. In view of these considerations, it is suggested that an Irrigation Development (Ways and Means) Fund should be created by each State government into which a definite sum of money could be paid every year, either from general revenues or from loans or savings and to which should be added loans and grants, if any, from the Central Government and the proceeds of betterment levy, increase of water rates etc. This fund would be non-lapsable and all expenditure on 'irrigation and power projects should be met from it. This procedure will enable every project to be taken up after full technical and other investigations and thus result in efficiency and economy. Similarly, once a project has been sanctioned, execution of works can be planned carefully and on the most efficient basis without the dislocation caused by the fear of grants lapsing and uncertainty as to availability of funds from year to year.

73. The amount to be paid annually into the proposed non-lapsable Irrigation Development (Ways and Means) Fund by each State will vary from State to State, but it is suggested for consideration that State governments set apart during the next fifteen years such annual sums for this State Fund as will enable them to complete their programmes of irrigation and connected power projects for this period. This proposal aims at improving the ways and means position only and is not meant to effect a change in the existing financial and accounting procedure relating to irrigation works. Their administrative accounts etc., win continue to be maintained in the same manner as before.

74. The Planning Commission has already addressed State Governments in this matter. A number of States, Bihar, Bombay, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Uttar Pradesh, Mysore and Travancore-Cochin have accepted, in principle, the proposal to create a separate fund for irrigation and power development.

Economic Use Of Available Irrigation Supplies

75. While efforts are being made, and will continue to be made to provide new irrigation facilities in all parts of the country, it is necessary to examine the possibilities of putting to better use the supplies available at present. The problem of optimum use of available irrigation supplies has two broad aspects :—

(i) Agricultural—This consists in determining the optimum quantities of water required, and the correct time of their application for growing a crop with a view to irrigating the maximum area and producing the maximum tonnage of crops with a given quantity of water ;suitable crop rotation ; improved agricultural methods with irrigation etc. A fair amount of research in this respect has been carried out in different parts of the country by Irrigation and Agriculture Departments of various States. The Ministry of Agriculture set up some time ago a Central Standing Advisory Committee for research on water requirements of crops on which there are irrigation engineers, officers of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and of State Agriculture Departments and experts of the Meteorological Department. This Committee will study systematically such subjects as water requirements of crops in different parts of the country and allied problems like quality of waters, soil survey^ rotation of crops etc., and communicate to all concerned the results of such studies.

(ii) Engineering—This consists in conveying to the field, for purposes of irrigation, as large a proportion as possible of the supplies available at the head of a canal system, by minimising losses in the canal, in the distributaries, water course and in the field itself. On this aspect, little work appears to have been done to find out exactly what part of the supply let down at the head of a canal is actually applied to crops in the field. Some ad-hoc estimates of seepage and evaporation losses in canals, branches, distributaries and water-courses have been made by different officers at different times, but as they were not made on a uniform system evolved before-hand, the results may not be regarded as possessing the required degree of accuracy. From the results available, it appears that of the water let in at the head of a canal system about 16 per cent is lost in the canals and branches ; about 6 per cent in distributaries and about.

23 per cent in water courses, thus leaving only 55 per cent to reach the field. Though these estimates are only approximate, it would be correct to say that if absorption losses in the canals, distributaries and water-courses are reduced, considerable additional areas can be provided with irrigation facilities from the water already available.

76. Absorption losses on canals, branches and distributaries can be reduced by lining them. There are, however, technical and practical difficulties in undertaking the lining of large canals and distributaries in operation ; but it should be possible to arrange in due course for the lining of such of the existing canals and distributaries as can be attended to. New canals present no such difficulties and many of them are being lined.

77. Absorption losses in water-courses are approximately 40 per cent of the water actually applied to the field and it is estimated that nearly three-fourths of these losses can be prevented by lining them. The advantages of such lining should be examined carefully. As water courses in most cases belong to the cultivators the funds for lining should come from them. With a suitable lining material, it should be possible to undertake this work, at least in some areas if the cultivators agree to pay for the purpose a moderate cess. Apart from saving large quantities of water for additional irrigation this will secure to cultivators two other substantial benefits. It will reduce maintenance, and also make it possible for them to reclaim a portion of the land now under water courses as a lined water-course generally takes less space than unlined channels. There are tanks in central and southern India below which there are no water-courses. Under such a system, there is wastage of water by absorption over the wide expanse on which irrigation waters flow from one field to another. It will lead to economy of water, if properly aligned water-courses can be constructed below such sluices or outlets where they do not exist.

78. Apart from the losses in irrigation channels, there is wastage of water in the field itself. It is well-known that the duty of irrigation water from a well is much more than that of canal water. The reason is that in a system of well irrigation the Jfield to be irrigated is invariably divided into small compartments for purposes of irrigation and the absorption during ,the process of irrigating such small compartments is comparatively low. On the other hand, water from a canal or a tank is generally let over a large field and considerable quantities are absorbed in the portion of the field already irrigated before water can reach the more distant parts of the field. It has been worked out, mathematically, that for alluvial soil, optimum conditions prevail when the size of the field in acres is from i/4th to i/5th of the discharge of the water-course in cusecs. Steps should be taken to educate the cultivators on this subject. Distribution of water amongst the various cultivators in a chak (area irrigated from an outlet), is generally carried out by what is known as warabandi in northern India. There are two such systems one termed the " fixed system " in which each holding gets water for a definite period according to its size once a week, on the same day, at the same time, the other called the " follow-on system " in which each cultivator takes water in turn for a fixed period depending upon the area and location of his holding and then hands it over to the next on the roster. If warabandi can be framed so that starting from the outlet water always flows onward, great saving in absorption losses will result.

79. The Planning Commission has already addressed the State Governments on this subject. State Governments, cultivators and all those connected with irrigation development should give thought to the suggestions made above, examine the economics of such proposals, and carry them out wherever possible.

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