History of Irrigation in Maharashtra



Before independence, the main objective was to provide protective irrigation facilities in drought area. No doubt these objectives have served the purpose but, after independence the approach got changed from protective to productive. During drought situation, irrigation does not serve only for  protective measures but also achieve the optimal productivity. Now days variety of crops and also hybrid varieties are coming up. The crop water requirement is changed and the irrigation system is designed to fulfill the crop water requirement.

Irrigation in Maharashtra 



  Maharashtra has old tradition of Irrigation . The phad system is a most economical method of management of irrigation water. The system is is based on the co-operation of farmers whose fields are to be irrigated. 

Some Highlights

Malgujari Tanks in Vidarbha were constructed near about two centuries back 

Dams like Khadakwasla, Darna, Bhandaradara  were constructed before 1926

Nira canal system is constructed way back around 1880 and is functioning effectively even today.

Radhanagari dam in Kolhapur districts was constructed by the then ruler of Kolhapur State and water is released from this dam into the river and stored in series of Kolhapur Type Weirs (popularly known as KT weirs) constructed on the rivers. Water released is lifted by members of co operative societies of farmers and main crop of sugarcane is harvested in this area. These co-operative societies have been functioning successfully for the last more than 80 years.

Maharashtra has very strong history of co-operative movement. Co operative movement is seen in all fields. The co-operative lift irrigation schemes at Panchaganga and Bhogavati rivers are successfully managed by co-operative societies.

The water allocation to the members of co-operative societies is based on on volumetric basis and is shared during the allocated time. The water use is  very efficient and economical and also the productivity of the crops is increased.

  Water Resources in Maharashtra
In the year 1962, the State Irrigation Commission made a comprehensive study of irrigation development and management. The Irrigation Commission had assessed that the ultimate irrigation potential both from the surface and underground sources would be about 7.08 million hectors out of which 5.26 million ha. (5.9 million ha as per revised estimate ) would be from the surface sources and 1.80 million ha from under ground sources. 

Information about 75% dependable yield different basins and permissible water use (according to award of tribunal) is tabulated as:

 Basin Geographical area 

million ha

Cultivable area 

million ha

75 % dependable yield 
Permissible use (As per tribunal award)


15.43 11.256 37300 34185


5.12 3.731 6977 5415


0.16 0.064 315 308


7.01 5.627 28371 16818

West Flowing Rivers

3.16 1.864 58599 69210


30.88 22.542 131562 125936

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