Notes on the Geography of India Themes: Irrigation 2: British Efforts in the South: Photo 8
Cotton had his fiascos, most notoriously the Kurnool-Cuddapah Canal. The typically modest weir is shown here, ponding the water of the Tungabhadra River. The canal starts behind the camera and heads south some 320 kilometers. It was supposed to irrigate some 200,000 hectares, but that was cut back to 118,000. By 1920, the canal was irrigating only 35,000, with most farmers still declining to buy water because their crops usually grew well enough without it. Built as a private venture, the canal was purchased by the Madras government in 1882. The government never got its investment back. Farmers today are eager for water, but the project still fails to irrigate most of the land it technically commands. Why? All the water is taken by headenders, and the government lacks the will to force the kind of rationing that's needed to get water down to the people at the far or tail end of the system. It's a huge problem throughout South Asia, and it probably began here, in this pioneering project.
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