List of Major Canals of India

Canals are basically man made waterways. Canals are mostly used for either irrigation purposes or for conveyance/ transportation. Mostly canals are taken out from reservoirs created as a result of building dams. Canals are also carved out from rivers. Canals can be broadly classified in two categories – i) waterways -used for navigation or transportation and ii) Waterducts – used for supply of potable water for irrigation and consumption and other general uses. The article explains about different major canals of India.

Major Canals of India

Indira Gandhi Canal on India Map

Major Canals of India : Indira Gandhi Canal

Indira Gandhi canal is one of the longest canals of India. This canal originates from Harike Barrage at Firozpur. This canal spans in three states including Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. This canal was constructed under the guidelines of Indus Water treaty, 1960 with Pakistan which authorises India to use the waters of Sutlej, Ravi and Beas to maximum potential. The total length of the canal including main canal, feeder canal and distributary canal is 9245 Km making it largest canal projects of India. The average discharge of the canal is 138 cubic meters per sec which makes this canal also one of the largest flow rate canals of India. This canal has turned the barren lands of thar desert into lush green fields. The cities like Bikaner, Barmer, Jaisalmer of Rajasthan are the most gaining cities from this canal. The upper portion of this canal which lies mostly in Punjab is called as “Rajasthan Feeder”.

Major Canals of India : Upper Ganges Canal

The Indo Gangetic plane of mainly Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh is spawned and irrigated by two projects : Upper Ganga canal and Lower Ganga Canal. The entire project including Upper Ganag Canal and Lower Ganga Canal is commonly called as Ganga Canal. Upper Ganga canal originates from Bhimgoda Barrage, Har ki pauri, Haridwar. The length of main canal is 342 Km but with distributaries included the total length becomes about 6000 Km. The construction of this canal started in British era in year 1842 and got completed in year 1854. The cities which are most benefited from this canal are parts of western UP like Meerut, Saharanpur, Bulandshahar, Mathura, Farrukhabad, Aligarh, Kanpur, Etawah etc.  This canal irrigates an area of 9000 Square Km region of Ganga Yamuna doab which is covered by nearly 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh.

Major Canals of India : Lower Ganges Canal

This is lower part of Ganga Canal. It originates from a barrage at Narora (near Bulandshahar). Lower Ganges canal has two main branches – Bhognipur Branch which starts near Jera village of Mainpuri district and Kanpur & Etawah branch. The Bhognipur branch was opened in year 1880

Major Canals of India : Narmada Canal

Narmada canal is major canal of western part of India. The origin of this canal is Sardar Sarovar Dam, Navgam in Gujarat. It runs for 460 Kms in Gujarat and then 74 Kms in Rajasthan making the total length to 534 Km. It is mainly an irrigation type canal and irrigates an area of 52,60,000 acres of western India. The width of this canal is 73 meters and depth is 7.6 meters.  This canal has transformed the arid lands of Gujarat kutch region and adjacent dry areas of Jalore and Barmer districts of Rajasthan.

Major Canals of India : Buckingham Canal

Buckingham canal was originally known as Cochrane’s canal. This canal is 800 Km long which runs parallel to the east coast of India. The canal starts from Kakinada of East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh and runs south upto Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu. This canal is navigation type canal built during British era. This canal encompassed the natural backwaters and lakes running along the east coast (Coromandel) of India. Presently its use is declined due to high pollution and stagnant water.

Major Canals of India : Kakatiya Canal

Kakatiya canal is an important canal of Telangana state. The origin of this canal is Sriram Sagar Reservoir (Dam) and it discharges/ empties into Lower Manair Dam. This canal irrigates and provides drinking water to many cities of North Telangana including Nizamabad, Warangal, Karimnagar and Khamman. The total length of this canal is 284 Km and its average flow rate is 275 cubic meters per second.

Major Canals of India : Sharda Canal

This canal originates at Banbasa from Sharda river near the India Nepal border.  This river is also known as Kali Ganga in Uttarakhand. Sharda Canal is the longest canal of Uttar Pradesh. Construction of Sharda Canal started in year 1920 and completed in year 1928. Total length of this canal along with main line and all distributaries is 12,368 Km. Katima Hydroelectric Power Plant with installed capacity of 41.4 MW is also constructed on this canal. This canal irrigates nearly 8 lakh hectares of land including the cities of Pilibhit, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Lakhimpur, Khiri, Lucknow, Sitapur, Pratapgarh, Unnao, Raebareilly, Barabanki etc.

Major Canals of India : Agra Canal

Agra canal originates from Okla barrage, 18 Km south of Delhi. Its construction was completed in year 1928. It draws water from right bank of Yamuna river. Agra canal is responsible for irrigation of nearly 1.5 lakh hectares of cultivated land of Agra, Mathura, Faridabad, Bharatpur.

Major Canals of India : National Waterway 1

National waterway 1 is basically meant for navigation. It runs from Allahabad to Haldia along river Ganga, Bhagirathi and Hooghly. The total length of this waterway is 1620 Km making it longest waterways of India. The current government has taken stride to develop this waterway in more professional manner and has sought to utilise this waterway for transportation of goods, material etc to enhance business and economy of the region.

Major Canals of India : National Waterway 3 (West Coast Canal)

This canal is 205 Km in length running from north to south along the coastal Kerala. North end of West Coast Canal starts from Kottapuram and extends up to Kollam to its southern tip. West Coast canal  is not like other traditional canals used for irrigation etc but basically it is a waterway used for navigation purposes. This canal was opened in year 1993 and declared a National Waterway. The distributary Canals – Champakara and Udyogmandal canals also connects the industrial parts of Kochi to Kochi port. These canals are also known as backwaters of Kerala and has added significantly to the economy of Kerala by promoting tourism. There are total 9 major terminals with RCC Jetty along National Waterway 3 of which Kottapuram, Aluva, Kochi, Maradu and Kollam are most important. The terminal of Alapuzha (Alleppey) is main tourist hub along this canal. West coast canal is feed by rivers like Periyar, Tattapalli and Pamba. Vembanad Lake, Kayamkulam Lake and Kuripuzha Lake are the important subassemblies of this west Coast Canal.

Major Canals of India : Handri Neeva Canal Project

This canal project is one of the longest canals of the Rayalseema (South Andhra Pradesh) region. Length of this canal is 569 Km. This canal originates from Srisailam reservoir and runs through four districts namely Anantpur Chittoor, Kadapa and Kurnool. This canal is a multi-utility canal which is meant for irrigation, supplying drinking water and removal of excess flood water from srisailam reservoir. This canal originates from Srisailam reservoir and along its course links a number of rivers of Rayalseema region like Penna, Chitravati, Mandavya, Papagni etc and feeds numerous reservoirs along its course. Handri Neeva canal project started in year 2005 and is still under construction as of year 2016.

Major Canals of India : Sirhind canal

Sirhind canal is basically an irrigation type canal. This canal originates from Sutlej river near Ropar city, Rupnagar district of Punjab. Construction of this canal was completed in year 1882. This canal is meant for irrigation of most of the Malwa region of Punjab. Once the arid lands of Malwa have turned very fertile and cultivable due to waters of this canal. The headstream of the canal splits in three sub-streams at Dohara, Ludhiana. These three sub-streams are Bhatinda stream, Abohar stream and Patiala stream. Abohar stream is 142 Km long and flows west to rejoin the Sutlej river near Pakistan border. Bhatinda branch flows southwest towards Rajasthan and Patiala branch flows southeast towards Patiala.

Western Yamuna Canal

Western Yamuna Canal was originally built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq in 1335 AD. It was renovated and restructured during British period in year 1817. The length of the main canal is 86 Km and total length including branches is 325 Km. This canal originates from Hathnikund barrage near Dakpathar, Dehradun of Uttarakhand state. Tajewala barrage of Yamunanagar district, Haryana regulates and controls the flow of water to Western Yamuna Canal. Pathrala barrage, Somb river dam are constructed on this canal to harvest the water efficiently. Sirsa branch is one of the largest branch of this canal which was built in 1895. One of the branch of this canal feeds the Agra Canal near Okhla. This canal and its branches irrigates the vast expense of Punjab and Haryana namely cities like Ambala, Karnal, Rohtak, Jind, Hissar etc.

Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal

This canal has proposed length of 214 Km. Due to water sharing dispute between that arrived between Punjab and Haryana this canal project is still not competed although the plan was laid years ago in late 80s. Haryana was meant to gain mostly from this canal as the unused water of Sutlej would be coming to Yamuna river. The entire stretch of canal that lies within Haryana say about 92 Km is completed while some of the portion of Punjab is still yet to be complete. The Supreme Court of India has intervened many times to solve the problem and get the canal project completed. Punjab assembly recently passed a bill and declared they are unable to release water from Sutlej to Yamuna. Supreme Court passed a judgement of 10th Nov 2016 stating that the bill passed by Punjab assembly to stop the water for Sutlej Yamuna Link canal is invalid and illegal.

Anupgarh Canal

This is a distributary canal of Indira Gandhi canal and originates near Suratgarh, Ganganagar, Rajasthan. This canal is supplies drinking water to areas of Ganganagar and Bikaner districts of Rajasthan.

Soundane Cut

Soundane Cut is the name of canal which originates from Ujani dam. This dam is located at Ujani, Madha Taluka, Solapur district of Maharashtra . It draws water from Bhima river.

Some other Important Canals of different Indian States

CanalLength (Km)StateRemarks
Ainsley canal3.3Chennai, Tamil NaduPresently highly polluted
Buddha Nullah CanalMalwa region, PunjabSeasonal water stream, presently highly polluted
Najafgarh DrainDelhiAlso called river Sahibi. Drains into Yamuna
Kalingarayan Canal92Erode, Tamil NaduIt is an irrigation canal constructed in 1283 AD
Conolly Canal11.4Kozhikode, KeralaConnects Korapuzha river to Kallai river
K C CanalKurnool & Cuddapah of Andhra PradeshIrrigation canal which connects Penner and Tungbhadra river
Munak canal102Delhi, HaryanaBranch of Western Yamuna Canal
Kutte KolSrinagar, Jammu and KashmirNavigation canal, built for regulating floods of Jhelum
Tsoont KolSrinagar, Jammu and KashmirNavigation canal, built to regulate level of Dal lake
Kaveri Vaigai link canal255.6Tamil NaduUnder construction, linking of Kaveri and Vaigai rivers
Lower Bhavani Project canal201Erode, Tamil NaduIrrigation canal orinating from Bhavanisagar Dam.