Irrigation & Canal System of Pakistan – An brief Overview

Before looking at the irrigation & canal system of Pakistan, firstly what a canal is? Canal can be regarded as a man made waterway that serves the functions of drainage or irrigation. Canal takes the water from the river and transports it to field area where utilization is made. The canals come out of rivers, dams, and barrages.

Canal System of Pakistan

The irrigation and canal system of Pakistan is regarded as best among others worldwide. It is also the largest. About three fourth of the agricultural land of Pakistan comes under this canal system. At present Pakistan has three large dams and eighty five small dams in this system. These dams are controlled by 19 barrages. A total of 57 canals are included in this system. Among these 12 are linked and other 45 are normal canals. To utilize ground water 0.7 million tube wells have been installed. In Pakistan canals are the most popular means of irrigation as they supply plenty of water at very cheap rates.

Types of canals in Pakistan

Canal System of Pakistan consist of three main important types of canals:

  • Perennial Canals
  • Non-Perennial Canals
  • Inundation Canals

Perennial Canals : These are crucial in canal system of Pakistan. Perennial canals ensure regular supply of water all the year round. These canals supply water to farmer’s field. Perennial canals sprout from barrages or dams. Punjab has many of these canals. These include Lower and upper Bari Doab, Lower & Upper Chenab canal and Sidhnai,. Apart from these Uper Jehlum and river Sutlej’s Canals are also important. Trimu Headworks is the starting point of Jhelum canals. While canals of Sutlej river originate from it at Islam, Panjnad, Ferozpur and Sulaimanki Headworks.

Non-Perennial Canals: Non-perennial canals only run in Monsoon and summer. They get their water from rains. This category also has many canals. These include Setluj, Sidhnai (from ravi) and haveli (from chenab) canals. They also constitute an important part in canal system of Pakistan.

Inundation Canals: Rainy weather and season is the only time when these canals run. It actually happens due to raised level of water in rivers. Uncertain water quantity is supplied by them. Their source of water is also river but there is a difference.  They carry extra flood water. That is why these are also called flood canals. Some canals of Chenab and Indus river are the examples.

Indus water treaty between India & Pakistan

Treaty of Indus Water was signed between two nations (Pakistan and India) in 1960. The history of this treaty goes back in the early months after independence. India after division of Punjab got headworks of all the rivers that flow in Pakistan. They on one occcasion (1948, April) stopped water flow in Pakistani rivers. Pakistan protested against this act. An interim solution was sorted out but the issue was permanently solved in the form of Indus Water Treaty.

This treaty guaranteed Pakistan the water from 3 western rivers. These include Jehlum, Indus and Chenab. India got water from the 3 remaining eastern rivers. These included Ravi, Setluj and Bias. After the treaty there started construction of massive dams in Pakistan. Also, the linked canals were constructed to sustain the irrigation system of Pakistan. A total of 8 linked canals were built for this purpose. Indus Water Treaty was signed in the reign of General Ayub Khan. So, this treaty strengthened the Canal system of Pakistan.

Main Canals of Pakistan

The three western rivers viz, Chenab, Indus and Jehlum are major suppliers of water to the country. These rivers play pivotal role in canal system of Pakistan. Majority of the water in these rivers flows during summer season.

Canal System of Pakistan

Ravi River canals

Many important canals get their water from River Ravi. These include Lower and upper Bari Doab. An example of major canal from River Ravi is the Sidhnai canals. These canals support the Kharif crop.

Chenab River Canals

Marala weir is the starting flow point of Uper Chenab Canal. Whereas, Khanki weir is the starting point of Lower Chenab. Haveli canals also fall in the Chenab River Canals.

Jehlum River Canals

Lower and Upper Jehlum canals are of Chajj Doab. Upper Chenab joins Upper Chenab on Khanki area. Lower Jehlum supplies water to Gujrat area. Upper one does the same for Mangla area.

Sutlej River Canals

Suleimanki, Islam and Feroz Wala Head works are of Sutlej River. Punjnad also comes in this list. Bahawalpur and Nili-Bar area is irrigated by these canals.

Indus River Canals

Thar desert is irrigated by canals of Indus river that come out from Jinnah Barrage. Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan areas are also irrgated by the canals coming out of different barrages. Barrages include Guddu, Taunsa and Chashma. Similarly vast areas of KPK are also irrigated by Indus River Canals.

Headworks & Barrages of Rivers in Punjab

There are 12 of these found in Punjab. Taunsa and Chashma are found on River Indus. Rasul is built on Jhelum river. Chenab river has 4 of these heads and barrages. These include Trimmu, Khanki, Marala and Qadirabad. Sidhnai and Balloki are constructed on river Ravi. Sutlej river has Islam and Suleimanki. Whereas, Punjnad is found on Punjnad.

Link canals of Punjab

There are ten linked canals found in Punjab. These were dug after the Indus Water Treaty.

1) Chashma & Jhelum = This link canal links Jhelum and Indus River.

2) Taunsa & Punjnad = Jhelum river is linked with Indus

3) Rasul & Qadirabad = This is the link between Jhelum and Chenab.

4) Marala with Ravi = Rivers linked are Chenab & Ravi.

5) Bambanwala, Ravi & Bedian = Three rivers are linked. Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej.

6) Chenab & Baloki = Links Chenab with Ravi.

7) Qadirabad Baloki = Ravi and Chenab

8) Trimmu and Sidhnai again link Chenab and Ravi Triver.

9) Baloki & Sumeimanki canals link ravi with Sutlej.

10) Sidhnai & Mailsi canals = Ravi is linked with Sutlej.

The link canals have a total length of about 800 Km with a total capacity of about 100,000 cusecs. These canals transport water from the three western rivers to the three eastern rivers which run short of water as their water has been allotted to India.

This was all about the canal system of Pakistan. For more information regarding irrigation steps by government in Pakistan, visit the link.

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