The Indira Gandhi Canal is one of the largest canal systems operating in India. It has two stages under its command area –
Stage I – This covers Ganganagar, Hanumangarh and northern parts of Bikaner Districts.
Stage II – This covers the culturable land of Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Nagaur and Chum districts.
From the above descriptions of the canal’s command area it is evident that the canal passes through a dry region and introduction of its irrigation facilities have transformed its ecology and economy both.
The ecological transformation is both positive and negative. Excessive irrigation has led to availability of soil moisture for a longer period of time. This along with various afforestation and pasture development programmes under CAD have resulted in a green revolution in the area. It has also reduced wind erosion and the siltation of canal systems. The negative impact includes the emergence of waterlogging and increase in soil salinity because of intensive irrigation.
The agricultural economy of the region has undergone a profound transformation due to the introduction of canal irrigation. Availability of soil moisture due to canal irrigation has led to increase in cultivated area and intensity of cropping. The traditional crops sown in the region included gram, jowar, bajra etc. they have been replaced with cash crops like wheat. While intensive irrigation had initially led to increase in agricultural and livestock productivity in the initial phase, it also gave rise to waterlogging and soil salinity which has hampered the agricultural sustainability in the long run.
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