BENEFITS OF IRRIGATION
The direct and allied benefits of Irrigation are summarized below :
1. Increase in crop yield :
Due to the timely and controlled supply of water to the crop, the yield of crop is increased.
With the increase in the crop yield, it would be possible to achieve self sufficiency in the production of food grains.
2. Protection From Famine :
The provision of adequate irrigation facilities in any region ensures protection against failure of crops or famine from droughts. However, regions where no irrigation facilities exist and the farmers have to depend only on rains for growing crops, the failure of rains may result in famine.
3. Cultivation of cash crops :
Irrigation facilities encourage the cultivation of cash crops (superior crops) such as wheat, sugarcane. rice, cotton, tobacco, oil seeds, etc.
4. Elimination of mixed cropping:
If irrigation facilities are not available in an area, the farmers have a tendency to adopt mixed farming (mixed cropping) whereby they grow two or more crops together in the same field.
The advantage of mixed cropping is that if the weather conditions are not suitable for one of the crops, it may be suitable for the other, and thus the farmers may get atleast some yield from the same field.
But, mixed cropping has a number of disadvantages, especially due to the fact that each crop has different requirements for field preparation, manuring, watering, etc. However, the availability of irrigation facilities helps in eliminating the mixed cropping.
5. Increase in Revenue :
Revenue is collected from the farmers who utilise irrigation water. There is substantial increase in revenue to the state.
The revenue so collected may be used for development of new irrigation schemes or other development works.
6. Saving foreign exchange :
Irrigation helps in making the country self-sufficient in food production.
Thus there is a lot of saving of foreign exchange required to import food grains.
7. Canal plantation :
The area near the canal is quite damp. Trees can be planted along the canal on the banks and also on the open land available between the canal and the agricultural fields.
The tree plantation increases the timber wealth and associated products. This also checks soil crosion and keeps the ecological balance.
8. Communication facilities :
It is the general practice to provide an inspection road on one of the banks of the canal.
The inspection road is usually a W.B.M. road.
It provides a good communication link for the villagers who use it for walking, cycling, riding or even for motoring.
Sometimes, these roads are the only roads available for the villagers of the region. In some cases, the tops of embankments of canals are also used as pathways.
9. Aid in civilization :
Irrigation schemes are helpful in bringing civilization to the area through prosperity. Due to the introduction of irrigation schemes, even the violent and uncivilized tribes take to farming and settle peacefully.
10. Overall Development :
Irrigation schemes, directly or indirectly, lead to the general development of the country. Due to increased crop yield and the value of the crops, prosperity of the people is increased.
With the increased agricultural revenue of the state, several industries may be set up and other development works, such as roads, railways, telecommunication, schools, hospitals, commercial centres, cinemas, theaters and sports may be undertaken to provide better amenities for the people.
11. Flood control:
Most of the river valley projects are designed for flood control in addition to irrigation and hydropower. In the reservoir, some space is kept for the storage of flood water.
12. Domestic and Industrial water supply:
Reservoirs constructed for irrigation, hydropower and flood control are also sometimes used for domestic and industrial water supply.
Moreover, the irrigation canals are frequently used for domestic and industrial water supply when no other suitable source of water supply exists.
The irrigation canals are also used for bathing, swimming, cattle watering, boating and other recreations.
13. Inland Navigation :
The irrigation canals are also sometimes used for inland navigation.
These provide an economical method for transportation of goods. In multipurpose projects, occasionally navigation is one of the purposes.
Water is released from the reservoir into the river downstream to augment low supplies for navigation.
14. Generation of hydro-electric power :
Major river valley projects are usually planned to provide hydro-electric power together with irrigation.
Generation of hydroelectric power is also possible at falls on the irrigation canals.
Ganga and Sharda canals in Uttarpradesh, are having a generating capacity of about 80,000 kW of hydro-electric power.