T.V. Sivanandan

Bhadra Major Irrigation Project was designed to irrigate more than 1.05 lakh hectares

The canal system is being modernised under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme

GULBARGA: The modernisation of the 428-km-long main canal and 1,435 km of distributaries of the Bhadra Major Irrigation Project taken up at a cost of Rs. 951 crore will, along with the introduction of the concept of water management, help in the judicious use of water.

The project, which was inaugurated in 1966, was allocated 61.70 tmcft of water under Scheme A of the Bachawat Tribunal award. A dam was constructed across the Bhadra near Lakkavalli village in Tarikere taluk of Chikmagalur district.

The Bhadra Major Irrigation Project was designed to irrigate more than 1.05 lakh hectares in Shimoga, Chikmagalur and Davangere districts. It covers a command area of 79,262 hectares in Davangere district, 21,241 hectares in Shimoga district and 5,067 hectares in Chikmagalur district.

One of the major drawbacks in the canal system drawn up at the time of the sanction of the project was that it was unlined in many places. As a result of the absence of a concrete lining, seepage was reported at several points in the command area. Heavy leakage was detected in aqueducts, super-passages and sluices, and this called for immediate repairs to stop wastage of water.

Therefore, the State Government decided to modernise the canal system with Central assistance under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP).

Chief Engineer of the Bhadra project Rudraiah told The Hindu that modernisation of the canal system included improvement of the structural components and providing a concrete lining. It also included major repairs to tunnels, aqueducts and other structures that were in bad shape.

Although the total command area of the project is more than 1.05 lakh hectares, the total irrigation potential, including both kharif and rabi crops, is 1.77 lakh hectares.

Modernisation work has been completed in 272 km of the 428-km main canal and in 926 km of the 1,435 km of distributaries for which Rs. 488.24 crore has been spent.

Mr. Rudraiah said that the remaining work would be completed during the next two canal-closure periods from November 2009 to December 2009 and from May 2010 to June 2010. The Centre has so far released Rs. 325 crore under the AIBP.