➤ Bihar has many sources of irrigation such as canals, tubewells, ponds, well and ahar-pyne systems. The state also has various multi-purpose projects which provide water to every part of the state such as Kosi River Project, Son Valley Project, Gandak Project, etc.
➤ The construction and development of canals in Bihar has provided adequate water for Rabi crops and has minimised the flood conditions and dependence on irregular monsoon.
➤ Agriculture in the state is greatly depended on monsoon rainfall. The average rainfall in the state is 120 cm, out of which 85% is received by South-West Monsoon (June to September). The rest of the months experience dry condition in the state. Thus, to continue agricultural practices, irrigation is needed during such a long dry period in the state.
➤ Districts having less than 50% irrigated land are Araria, Saharsa, Supaul, Katihar, Purnea, Kishanganj, Madhubani, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Sitamarhi, Nawada and Khagaria.
➤ District having between 50% to 70% irrigated land are Gaya, Patna, Banka, Kaimur, Munger, Begusarai, Sheohar and Lakhisarai.
➤ Districts having more than 70% irrigated land are Arwal, Jamui, Bhojpur, Buxar, Rohtas, Siwan and Gopalganj.
Irrigation System in Bihar (Bihar GK in English)
➤ As per Economic Survey 2018-19, Bihar has 117.54 lakh hectares of ultimate irrigation potential. Out of which 53.53 lakh hectares of land is under major and medium irrigation projects and 64.01 lakh hectares of land is under minor irrigation projects.
➤ As per Economic Survey 2018-19, by the year 2017-18, about 29.69 lakh hectares of total irrigation potential has been created through major and medium irrigation schemes and 40.79 lakh hectares of irrigation potential through minor irrigation schemes.
➤ In June 2017, three irrigation schemes namely, Udera Sthan Barrage Scheme, Kachnama Weir Scheme and Nasratpur Weir Scheme have been completed which created 49,130 hectares of irrigation potential in the districts of Jehanabad, Gaya and Nalanda.
Ulitmate, Created and Utilised Irrigation Potential in Bihar
(Area in lakh ha.)
Type of Irrigation Potential
(i) Surface Irrigation
(ii) Ground Water
Major and Medium Irrigation
*Source: Economic Survey 2018-19
Sources of Irrigation in Bihar
Canals, tubewells, wells, ponds and ahar/pyne are the main sources of irrigation, which are discussed below:
➤ Tubewell irrigation work was started in the year 1930 in the plains of Bihar.
➤ Around 53.46% of land out of the total irrigation land is irrigated by tubewells.
➤ Bihar has around 10,242 tubewells, out of which only 2,866 tubewells are used for irrigation purpose. Around 5,559 tubewells are out of order in the state.
➤ The largest irrigated districts by tubewells are Patna, Kishanganj and Araria.
➤ The least irrigated district by tubewell is Rohtas because it extensively used canals for irrigation.
➤ To promote tubewell schemes in Bihar, the State Government has started Bihar Shatabdi ‘Niji Nalkup Yojana’.
Canals are the major source of irrigation in Bihar. These irrigate around 28% part of the total irrigated land of Bihar. The state has both perennial and seasonal canals.
The perennial canals have water throughout the year.Most of the canals of the North Bihar are perennial canals.On the other hand, Seasonal canals have water only during rainy season and during the other part of the year, they remain dry.
Thus, perennial canals are mostly used for irrigation purpose.
Major canals of Bihar :
The Kosi Barrage lies on Kosi river at Bhimanagar in Sunsari district in Nepal.
The work of this barrage was completed in the year of 1963. It has two main canal systems in Bihar. They are
➤ Western Kosi Canal This has been taken out from Western part of Hanuman Nagar reservoir. This is 91.63 km in length and irrigates about 3.25 lakh hectares of land in Darbhanga, Madhubani, Samastipur and Supaul districts.
➤ Eastern Kosi Canal This has been taken out from Western part of Hanuman Nagar reservoir. Its main branch is 44 km in length. It has four branches namely Murliganj, Jankinagar, Purnea and Araria.
The total length of this canal including its branches is 127 km. This canal irrigates 6.20 lakh hectares of land in seven districts i.e. Purnea, Supaul, Madhepura, Katihar, Araria, Khagaria and Saharsa.
Two canals have been taken out from Tihri namely, Eastern Son Canal andWestern Son Canal.
➤ Western Son Canal This canal has been taken out from Eastern side of Sone river at Tihri. It has three branches i.e. Arrah, Buxar and Chausa. These canals irrigate 3 lakh hectares of land in Buxar, Bhojpur, Kaimur and Rohtas districts.
➤ Eastern Son Canal This canal has been taken out from Barun in 1875. The canal have the length of 130 km. Patna Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Arwal, Bhojpur and Gaya districts are irrigated by this canal.
➤ A dam near Valmiki Nagar has been built on Gandak river, which is 740 m long and 10 m high. Two canals have been taken out from this place.
➤ Saran Canal which irrigates Saran, Gopalganj and Siwan districts and Tirhut Canal which flows Eastward and irrigates land of Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, East Champaran and West Champaran districts.
It has been taken out from Kamla river in Darbhanga district. It irrigates mainly Madhubani district.
It was constructed in 1904. This canal has been taken out from Gandak river at Triveni inWest Champaran district. It irrigates 1 lakh hectare of land inWest Champaran district.
It was built in 1950 on Sakri river.
It irrigates Munger,Gaya, Patna, Nawada and Nalanda districts.
This is a branch of Eastern Kosi Canal. Its total length is 366 km. This canal irrigates 1.60 lakh hectares land in Khagaria and Saharsa districts.
Dhaka and Teur Canal
These are small canals taken out from Lalwakia and Teur river in Champaran. These irrigate 2.5 lakh hectares of land of East Champaran district.
➤ Soft alluvial soil and higher groundwater table makes it highly suitable to dig well in Bihar plains.
There are both lined and unlined wells.
➤ Rahat or Latthakundi are used in well irrigation. Saran, Siwan and Gopalganj are chief areas which use well irrigation.
➤ Ponds are used for irrigation purposes almost in all districts of Bihar.
Traditionally, ponds are dug out of irrigation purposes.
➤ In the North Bihar plains, Gopalganj and Madhubani are the most important districts for using ponds.
➤ The ahar/ pyne system is an indigenous irrigation technology. These are made by digging of rivers, nallahs or canals.
➤ This system has been made functional under several schemes like State Plan, Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Plan, Rural Infrastructure Development Fund, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, etc.
➤ It is a traditional method in which flood water is harvested. It was the basis for agriculture during Mauryan period. Big pynes are divided into many branches which irrigate thousand hectares of land.
➤ The pyne which has 10 branches is known as ‘Desain Pyne’. The smallest unit of pyne which is located near the agricultural field is known as Karhas. When water of pyne is dried up it is known as ‘Ahar’.
Important Irrigation (Bihar GK in English)
Projects of Bihar (Bihar GK in English)
Important irrigation projects of Bihar :
Kiul Irrigation Project
➤ A dam has been constructed on Kiul river in Garhi village in Jamui district. Its water will be used for irrigation purpose in the drought prone regions of Lakhisarai and Munger districts.
Durgavati Irrigation Project
➤ It is located in the drought prone areas of Kaimur and Rohtas district (5 blocks). This is an earthen dam over Durgavati river (1,616 m 46.66 m high) which joins Shergarh hills on the right and Rajdeo hills on the left.
The aim of this project is to control flood water and provide irrigation to these areas.
➤ Kudra Weir has been constructed on Durgavati river and weir is still under process near Karamchat, in Chewari sub-division.
Bagmati Irrigation Project
➤ Under this project, a dam has been constructed in Ramnagar in Sitamarhi district and a canal system has also constructed.
➤ Its water is used for irrigation purpose in the districts of Sitamarhi, Sheohar and Muzaffarpur.
Barnar Major Irrigation Project
➤ This project has been constructed in the drought prone regions of Jumui district. It provides water to these regions for irrigation purpose.
Besides these projects, Jharkhand based projects also provide benefits to some districts of Bihar like through North Koel Project,Gaya and Aurangabad and through Tilaiya Project,Gaya and Nawada districts are benefitted.
Medium and Small Irrigation Projects of Bihar (District-wise)
Adri, Dhuwa, Mulia, Kesar, Kanchan, Lower Karabar, Mansara
Bilasi, Badua-Belharama Link, Belharna
Aurhani, Dakra, Kamarganj, Gebua, Mehmunda Sanhoula
Birha, Neera, Upper Karibar, Firangi Bigha, Rekari, Chhariyani, Gokhale, Gulaskari, Kadhar, Mahabodhi, Nitane
Ajan, Amritia Bajan, Bellia Bandha, Kailash Valley, Karihari, Chichli, Kundghat Negi, Shri Khandi
Jamuna, Cheriyari, Bharthunandan
Basukund, Morawe, Surajgada Pump.
Bagra, Jalkund Reservoir, Kharagpur, Mahane
Sansi, Shrinawa, Panchane, Nischalganj, Mudar, Kulthi, Loken.
Tarkol Job Reservoir, Kol Mahadev, Phulwaria, Puraina
Kao, Bharari, Durgavati
Major Irrigation Projects of Bihar
Badua Reservoir Scheme
Bhagalpur, Munger, Banka
Chandan Reservoir Scheme
Gandak Project (Triveni/Dhaka Canal)
East Champaran and West Champaran, Siwan, Gopalganj, Vaishali, Samastipur, Muzaffarpur
Kamla-Balan, Trishura Irrigation Project
Kosi Integrated Rajpur Canal Project
Purnea, Katihar, Saharsa, Madhepura, Kishanganj, Supaul and Araria
Lilajan Irrigation Project
Lower Kiul Valley Project
Lower Morhar Irrigation Project
Musakund Dam Project
Sakri Lower Valley Project
Son Canal System
Bhojpur, Rohtas, Patna, Jehanabad, Gaya, Aurangabad
Son High Level Canal
Rohtas, Aurangabad, Gaya, Kaimur
Uderasthan Irrigation Project
Jehanabad, Gaya, Nawada
Upper Morhar Project
Multi-purpose Projects in Bihar
Important multi-purpose projects in Bihar :
Gandak Multi-purpose Project
➤ It is a combined project of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar States. Nepal also got some benefits of this project as per 1959 Agreement.
➤ Under this project, a barrage has been constructed in 1969-70 near Triveni Ghat (Valmikinagar, Bihar) across Gandak river. Its half part is located in Bihar and the other half in Nepal. Thus, it is a joint venture of the Governments of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal.
➤ Under this project, a road bridge and a barrage (837.8m long) have been constructed near Indo-Nepal border at Bhainsalotan in Bihar.
Under this project, two canals have been constructed which are discussed below:
MainWestern Canal It is about 200 km long which is extended in Nepal (19 km), Bihar (69 km) and Uttar Pradesh (112 km). It irrigates about 4.84 lakh hectares of land. It is also Known as Saran Canal.Major beneficiary districts are Saran district of Saran Division, Gopalganj and Siwan. Besides Eastern andWestern Canals, there are two other canals of Nepal under this project namely, Eastern Nepal Canal andWestern Nepal Canal. A hydro-electricity powerhouse of Valmikinagar has been commissioned over East Nepal Canal with installed capacity of 15 MW.
Main Eastern Canal It is also known as Tirhut Canal. It is about 293 km long which irrigates 6.6 lakh hectares of land.
Main beneficiary districts of this canal are East Champaran,West Champaran, Vaishali,Muzaffarpur and Samastipur.
Son Multi-purpose Project
➤ It is the first major irrigation project in the state which was inaugurated in 1874, by constructing a dam in Baruk near Dehri (Rohtas district). It is the oldest canal project of Bihar.
➤ This project was started to irrigate the lands of South-Western region of the state. In 1968, Indrapuri Barrage was constructed at Indrapuri in Rohtas district which has a length of 1,410 m.
➤ It was the first irrigation project which was changed into multi-purpose project.
➤ Under this project, two power houses have been constructed, one is located near Dehri (6.6 MW) and the other is near Barun (3.3 MW) in Aurangabad.
Kosi Multi-purpose Project
➤ It is a joint venture of the Goverments of India and Nepal. Its agreement was signed between the two countries in April 1954.
➤ Its construction was started in the year 1955 and completed in 1963. The main aims of this project are flood control, provide irrigation facility, production of hydro-electric power and land conservation.
➤ In November 2003, this project was handed over to Bihar State Hydro-electric Power Corporation Limited (BSHPCL).
➤ Bihar Water Resource Department operates all the canal projects in the state.
Bansagar Water Dispute Agreement, 1973
Bansagar Dam is located on Son river in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh. It is an inter-state agreement among the State of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
The districts of Bihar namely, Rohtas, Kaimur, Buxar, Bhojpur, Gaya, Aurangabad and Arwal are depended on Son river for irrigation during Rabi season. Thus, to solve the problem of water dispute a water sharing agreement related to Sone river was done in the year 1973 among Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
According to this agreement, the water flow of Son river and its tributaries has been decided to over 14,250 lakh acre feet.Out of this, Bihar has been allocated 7,750 lakh acre feet area,Madhya Pradesh has been allocated 5,250 lakh acre feet area and Uttar Pradesh has 1250 lakh acre feet area.
State Government’s Efforts for Irrigation
The State Government has formulated various schemes for the development of irrigation.
Interlinking of Rivers
For the optimum use of water resources, the State Government of Bihar is giving main emphasis on interlinking of rivers.
There are three major schemes for interlinking of rivers which are proposed during 2017-22. These schemes will interlink the rivers of drought prone regions of the state. These :
Burhi Gandak-Noon-Via-Ganga Link Scheme It is expected that this scheme will irrigate around 1.26 lakh hectares of land of Samastipur, Begusarai and Khagaria. It will also minimise the risk of floods in these districts by Burhi Gandak.
Sakri-Nata River Interlinking Scheme The CentralWater Commission has approved to link Sakri river with Nata river. Under this Scheme, Sakri river water will transfer to Nata river through Baksoti Barrage Canal. This scheme will irrigate around 68,000 hectares of lands of Nawada,Nalanda and Sheikhpura districts.
Kosi-Mechi Interlinking Scheme It is expected that this scheme will irrigate around 2.11 lakh hectares of land of Araria, Saharsa, Supaul, Kishanganj and Purnea districts. Besides these schemes, there is also a proposed scheme to link Dhanarjay Reservoir Scheme with Phulwaria Reservoir Scheme.
Other Irrigation Schemes
Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Plan (AIBP) Under this scheme, the Central Government provides monetary assistance to Bihar.Under this, the schemes of North Bihar get about 90% central assistance. It includesWestern Kosi Canal Scheme,Kosi Barrage Scheme,Durgavati Reservoir Scheme and Punpun Barrage Scheme.
These schemes are being implemented in Nawada,Rohtas,Kaimur and Sitamarhi districts.
Telemetry Scheme In this scheme, telemetry instrument is to be installed in all blocks and districts headquarters of the state.
Bihar Shatabdi Niji Nalkup Yojana This scheme is being implemented in each block of 38 districts in the state. Under this scheme, a maximum amount of ` 15,000 is provided for shallow tubewell, ` 35,000 is provided for medium depth tubewell and ` 10,000 is provided for motor pump.
Rainbow Revolution This revolution was started in the year 2015-16 for agricultural development. The aim of this scheme is to provide electricity for agriculture and irrigation because the state uses only 5.83% power for irrigation. Thus, this revolution is working in the direction to provide electricity for pump-sets for irrigation and other agricultural practices. In the project, the domestic electricity feeders will be separated and a transformer of sufficient capacity will be installed near irrigation pump-sets.
Repair, Renovation and Restoration (RRR) of Water Body Under this scheme, a proposal for the renovation of 27 ahar-pyne and weirs has been sent to the Central Government for clearence. After implementation, these schemes will result in the resurrection of an irrigation potential of 12.3 thousand hectares.