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Canal irrigation is an important means of irrigation and is more common in the Northern Plains because: 1.

The rivers are perennial 2. The water is stored in reservoirs by building dams across rivers 3. This water is then distributed to the fields by a network of canals Types of Canals 1. Perennial Canals are the canals that have water in them throughout the year as they draw out water from perennial rivers or artificial lakes which have water in them. These are common in northern India where rivers are perennial. 2. Inundation Canals: These canals are taken out of rivers without building dams or weirs at their head, to regulate the flow of water. The excess water during floods flows into them. Canals can be an effective source of irrigation in areas of low level relief, deep fertile soils, perennial source of water and extensive area. Therefore these are common in the Northern Plains in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Bihar which account for about half of the canal irrigated area of the country. In the south Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Tamil Nadu are important. Merits of Canal Irrigation 1. Canals bring down a lot of sediments from the rivers which make the soil fertile. 2. Most of the canals provide perennial irrigation and supply water as and when needed. 3: Although initial cost is much higher, Canal irrigation is quite cheap in the long run. Demerits of Canal Irrigation 1. Canals are generally not deep and since they are open they may dry up. 2. The water soaks into the ground and leads to the problem of water-logging. 3. The marshy areas near the canals act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. 4. Excessive flow of water brings the salt to the surface making the soil infertile. Canal irrigation in India is one of the principal methods used for improving the growth of the crops. After wells and tube wells, canal irrigation is the second most important irrigation source. However, this method is only extended to those areas that are large level plains of deep fertile soil and are drained by well distributed perennial rivers. That is why it is quite natural that canal irrigation procedure is only limited to the plain areas of northern India, valleys of Indian peninsular plateau, coastal lowlands etc. Digging of canals is quite expensive in uneven rocky areas. Moreover, it is of limited use. Thus, huge lands in the Indian plateau are irrigated through other methods other than canals. Canals can be both perennial as well as nonperennial. Apart from these canals, there are several stream canals that are taken off from the rivers without the construction of the barrages. But, in such cases the beds of the inundation canals are generally at a higher level comparatively than those of the rivers, the canals get enough water supplies only when the river is in flood. As a result, the stream canals are of limited use. Constant attempts have been made to replace the inundated canals by the perennial ones. In mitigating the miseries and sufferings of the farmers, canal irrigation works have gone a long way. Every village in India has a pond or tank for preserving the rain water. Monsoons have been really uncertain in the country. In those areas where potable ground water is not sufficient like for instance, the zones of Indian plateau, water is supplied from reserved dams. In the past, irrigation works were small sized but with the passage of time, larger canal irrigation projects have been made possible. Water soaks into the ground under the bed of unlined canal. That is why with the irregular supplies of water, level of sub-soil water in the canal irrigated areas also rises. In some areas, where the perennial unlined canals flow at the ground level and between raised high banks, it is quite possible that the water might reach the surface and render the cultivable soil entirely waterlogged. In India, canal irrigation is important in various states like Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Haryana. Interestingly, more than half of the total irrigated area particularly of these states is irrigated with the usage of canals. Apart from these states, there are several other states where canal irrigation holds significance. These are Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. However, every year more and more cultivated land is being made useless in the canal irrigated areas.