Irrigation plays an important role in the agriculture of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Our State does not receive rain throughout the year and sometimes it is quite insufficient and it is neither uniform nor certain. In Jammu region temperature conditions favour cultivation of crops throughout the year but due to non availability of water in the region the plant growth is limited. Rainy season provides sufficient water from July to September. In winter also this region receives several showers of rain. The remaining months of the year are dry. This problem had since been solved by irrigation and 25% of the total cultivated land is irrigated. Out of 6,00,000 Hectares of cultivated land 1,50,000 is cultivated through irrigation.
In Kashmir valley it rains mostly in winter when temperature is too low for plant growth. When the temperature begins to rise in May and onwards the rainfall decreases and except some showers of rain in July-August most of the growing season remains dry. Since ages the farm economy has been dependent on a single crop and the cultivator cannot take chances with it. He always requires sufficient water supply for his fields, therefore, he depends mostly upon canals for irrigation. Many snow fed streams running down the slopes of the mountains makes it very easy for him to construct small canals or pools. In this way 60% of the cultivated land in the valley is irrigated.
Methods of Irrigation
The following methods of irrigation are in use in the State of Jammu and Kashmir:
(a) Canals form the most important system of irrigation in the Outer- plains and in the broad valley of Kashmir where the soil is soft and alluvial and canals can be easily dug. Moreover, the Jhelum and its tributaries are all snow-fed and they never run dry. They supply water to the canals throughout the year. About 486072 acres of land in Kashmir are irrigated by canals.
(b) Lift Irrigation by pumping water to higher level and then carrying it to the field through canals.
(c) Wherever water is available at the depth of one or two metres, it is drawn out by lever system and then supplied to the fields directly. At present about 6000 such wells are working in the valley.
Canals in the Valley of Kashmir
1. The Martand Canal is the oldest canal in Kashmir. It is about 50 Kms. long. It irrigates about 9.5 thousand acres of land around Matan, Dichhanpur, Khavapura and Anantnag. It takes its water from the river Liddar at Ganeshpora.
2. The Shakful Canal takes its water from the Nullah Sind. It irrigates many villages from Manigam to Safapore. Flowing at a higher level., the canal has been utilised to produce electric power.
3. The Sharabkul Canal takes its water from the Harwan lake. It flows up to Chashma Shahi to the east of Dal lake. Its water is mostly used for small patches of cultivation. It also irrigates orchards.
4. The Lalkul Canal takes its water from the Nullah Pohru at Bubhama near Kupwara. It irrigates fields in Uttarmachhipora, Kupwara, Drugmul, Sopore and Handwara. It is about 3 Kms. long and irrigates about 7500 acres.
5. The Zainagir Canal is a famous canal. It is 47 Kms long, takes its water from the river Madhumati. It flows through Bandipore on the bank of the Wullar Lake at Sonawari. It moves in loops till it enters Sopore irrigating about 13300 acres of land.
6. The Dadikul Canal. Takes its water from the Nullah Liddar at Kotsu near Chatapura. It is 19 Kms. long and irrigates about 8000 acres of land in the Khuram, Bichhanpura, Anantnag and Sarharna area.
7. The Nur Canal is about 13 Kms. long and takes its water from the river Jhelum at Shadipur and then flows into the Wullar lake. It irrigates Andarkut village. It is a model of the canal that was constructed by Soya during Avantivarman's reign.
8. The Sumbal Canal takes its water from the Nullah Sukhang at Kosa. It is 35.5 Kms. long and irrigates Sonawari area and flows back into the river Jhelum at Shadipur. More than 5000 acres of land are irrigated by this canal.
9. The Zarkul Canal takes its water from the Nullah Sind at Prang and irrigates about 20000 acres of land. It is an old canal and was constructcd during the reign of Zain-ul-Abdin, Badshah. It irrigates upper-land karewa on the Mansbal Lake, Manasbal, Lar, Asham and Ganderbal.
10. The Zainapur Canal takes its water from the river Vishav at Bharijug. It is 32 kms long and irrigates 6000 acres of land in Kulgam, and Zainapur area.
11. The Nandikul Canal takes its water from from the Nullah Anantnag at Lassipur and was originally constructed during reign of Avantivarman. It is 30 Kms. long and irrigates 8000 acres of land in the northern areas of Anantnag.
12. The Parimpur Canal takes its water from the Dudh-Ganga at Parimpura. It is 8 Kms. long.
13. The Mahind Canal was constructed in 1956. It takes its water from Nullah Liddar at Sakhras. It is l6 Kms. long and irrigates about 2500 acres of land in Seyria, Vichhanpura and Anantnag.
14. The Avantipur Canal takes its water from the Nullah Liddar at Doohjan. It is 36 Kms. long and irrigates 5000 acres of land of the east of Pampore. It was constructed in 1953.
15. The Kayal Canal takes its water from the Nullah Rambrara at Patipore. It is 50 Kms. long and irrigates about 5500 acres of land. It was constructed in 1953.
16. The Rishipora Canal takes its water from the river Vishav at Mitrajan. It is 18 Kms. long and irrigates about 3000 acres of land. It was constructed in 1956.
17. The Babul Canal takes its water from the Nullah Ferozpore at Tangmarg. It is 22.5 Kms. long and irrigates about 4500 acres of land below Gulmarg. It was also constructed in 1956.
Besides these, Chandosa, Beoarachani, Gand, Malora, Rikhiletar, Gorkha, Awanpura and Brinjal are other small canals in the valley that irrigate about 15000 acres of land in the surrounding areas.