“The earth, the air, the land and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but on loan from our children. So we have to handover to them at least as it was handed over to us.”
-- Mahatma Gandhi
Water is a priceless gift of nature. Without water one cannot imagine the existence of life or civilization. That’s why the only reason why our ancestors chose to live where the water was available easily. Since ancient civilizations, development of the society is based on water. Every human civilization always got established near any water resource body. Since very beginning of civilization, India emerged as an agricultural country. Even today around 75% of population of the country is dependent over agriculture. For the best outcome of agriculture, irrigation is one of the most important process. In India, rainfall varies from areas and time. Due to insufficient rain or no rainfall, a long history of drought had been noticed in the country. In the year 1770, a severe drought has been noticed in lower Bengal and Bihar, due to which a huge population of State faced unexpected crisis and get demolished. In year 1837, the severe drought of 19th century was noticed in Northern India, due to which society faced crisis and one third civilization get ruined. The incident grabbed the attention of British Government and Govt. decided to create perennial canals across the state, which would help in overcoming the crisis of agriculture. During British era, a number of canal systems came into force. Lieutenant Blane, Lieutenant Debiued, Colonel P.Cautley are the few names who contributed in the field of Irrigation of India.Before independence, the Irrigation Department, formed in 1823, was basically involved in Irrigation works.
After the independence, the necessity of constructing water resources and hydropower project were felt by the politicians of our country and many multipurpose projects were conceived and executed. On December 23, 1949, the first prime minister of Independent India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru laid a foundation store at Dakpathar, 46 Km. from Dehradun for construction of Yamuna valley Hydroelectric Project Stage-I. But due to paucity of funds, the construction work could not be taken up immediately. The construction on the project was started in 1956 and again had to be stopped in1958, because Koch Dam was proposed to be constructed on river Yamuna in the upstream of Tajewala head works by state of Punjab and it was feared that the Yamuna valley Hydroelectric Project Stage-I shall come under the submergence. However, the investigations and surveys conducted by the engineers of Irrigation Department revealed that due to the poor geological conditions, it was not feasible to construct the proposed Koch Dam Project. Later in 1960, Yamuna Organisation was established and the work on Yamuna valley Hydroelectric Project Stage-I was restarted in 1961 and completed successfully in just 5 years. After the successful construction of Yamuna valley Hydroelectric Projects Stage-I, Maneri Bhali Hydroelectric Scheme Stage-I was constructed successfully and commissioned in 1984. Simultaneously, the investigation, Planning, design and other appurtenant works of Tehri, Koteshwar, Srinagar, Vishnuprayag, Dhauliganga projects were approached by the department.
Before creation of separate Uttarakhand State, Irrigation Department was mainly engaged in multi-purpose projects along with construction & maintenance of a huge network of Canal system. Presently, it is involved in Canal Construction, tube wells, flood protection works and construction of reservoirs for the purpose of water conservation and generation of electricity. Irrigation Department is known for its specialization of construction of Dam and barrages, some of the example are Ichari Dam, Dakpathar Barrage, Asan barrage, ManeriBhali stage– I, Maneri Bhali stage-II, Pashuloke barrage, Ramganga Dam, Tehri Dam etc. At the foothills of Kumau/Tarai region, a series of dams were constructed in 1960s for the purpose of efficient irrigation. Apart from irrigation, sustained ground water is a major feature of this area. Because of recharging from these dams such as Kalagarh, Pili, Tumaria and Tumaria extension, Haripura & Baur, Baigul, Dhaura and Nanaksagar. After creation of separate State Uttarakhand, Maneri Bhali hydroelectric project Stage-II was carried out by the department successfully was commissioned in 2008.At present Uttarakhand Project Development and Construction Corporation (UPDCC) under aegis of Uttarakhand Irrigation Department has been entrusted for construction of Song dam for drinking water and Jamarani dam for multipurpose hydroelectric project.
“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry”
-- Thomas Fuller.