History of Department


Water is a priceless gift of nature. Without water one cannot imagine the existence of life or civilization. That’s the only reason why our ancestors chose to live where the water was available easily. Since ancient civilizations, development of the society is based on water. Every human civilization always got established near any water resource body. Since the very beginning of civilization, India emerged as an Agricultural country. Even today around 75% of population of the country is dependent over agriculture. For the best outcome of agriculture, irrigation is one of the most important processes. The main source for irrigation is fall. In India rainfall varies from areas and time. On one hand where average rainfall in West Rajasthan is 100 M.M., on other hand average rainfall of Cherapunji in West Meghalaya is 11000 M.M. At certain time due to insufficient rain situation of drought occurred in the country. In Northern India plain area of Ganga is very beneficial for agricultural purpose but due to insufficient rain or no rainfall, a long history of drought had been noticed in this region. In year 1770 a severe drought had been noticed in Lower Bengal and Bihar, due to which a huge population of state faced unexpected crisis and get demolished. In year 1837, the severe drought of 19th century was noticed in Northern India, due to which society faced crisis and one third civilization get ruined. This incident grabbed the attention of British Government and government decided to create perennial canals across the state, which would help in overcoming the crisis of agriculture.

In ancient Hindu Scriptures also, glimpse of deep interest for irrigation and irrigation management had also been noticed. Around 300 years ago in meeting of Chandragupta Maurya, ambassador of Seleucus, Megasthenes expressed his views over Irrigation System in India, that Irrigation system of that time was too rich in India. “Kautilya” in his Economic texts had also suggested to King that to conquer his enemies, he should inundate the land of his enemies under the boundaries of his state by destructing dams, canals and embankment. Kautilya has defined canals and dams in some other context also. In his economics you can find the description of utilization of water from rivers, lakes, damns and well for agricultural production, whose fourth part should be given to the King as revenue. If maintenance of private dam was neglected till five years then state had the authority to take it under its custody and if any dam construction took place with public assistance, then in that situation revenue tax was relived for four years.

400 year B.C. Maharaja Nand constructed water over bridge which was neglected for a long period of time. 100 year B.C. the Royal King Kharvela of Orissa rejuvenated this bridge and made it worth of reusing. Around 1700 years ago from now a well-planned weir been constructed by local engineers of Madras, which was the first work of this kind, of that era.

Before british period:

Due to availability of Perennial River like Sindhu and Ganga in Northern India, it was easy to make inundation canals through rivers water, which results into relatively easier use of water for irrigation. The main inundation canals of India are generated from Sindhu river and its 5 tributaries. It is said that these inundated canals were created by the Afghan Kings. The total length of such kind of inundated canal in Punjab Province was around 480 K.M. and around 4160 K.M. in Sindhu Province, which help in cultivation of around 6.8 lac hectare crops. By the end of 19th century cultivation of around 12.0 lac hectare area of Punjab and Sindhu provinces get dependent on such inundation canals. The management and maintenance of these canals is done by the government.

In Northern India, firstly the canal was created from both side banks of river Yamuna. The canal that was created from Western bank of Yamuna was constructed by Firozshah in the middle of 14th century for the cultivation of his hunting ground, situated near Hisaar. Later on just because of ignorance of its maintenance, this canal got unusable, but again in 16th century Akbar ordered the restoration of this canal. Thereafter in the beginning of 17th century, Shahjahan with the help of his assistant Alimardan Khan get this canal to the Shahjahanabad (Delhi) by constructing a river over bridge and cutting into the rock. After 125 years of construction, this canal keeps on efficiently working. Because of irregularities in Empire, supply of water from Firoz canal get stopped in 1707 and by the middle of 18th century existence of Mughal canal also got extinct. This is how, after 400 years, somehow canal stopped working.

Credit of Eastern Yamuna Canal originating from left bank of Yamuna river, which is also known as Doab canal goes to Alimardan Khan. The top origin of this canal is situated on the Shivalik hills and passes through hunting ground ‘Badshah Mahal’ of Shahjahan. On the top of canal hazardous nature hindrances/calamities this canal unable to survive for more than of one season, because engineers of Mughal era were unable to solve these problems. In year 1780 ‘Jabeelakhan Rohila’ restarted this canal but again same thing happened and after reconstruction of canal, it survived for few months only.

Canal systems in british era:

During British Era in India, development of old irrigation works and expansion started and it revived. In 1817 Lord Hastings, appointed Lieutenant ‘Blane’ of Engineering Core for monitoring of Delhi canal originating from Western Bank of Yamuna and in 1822 appointed Lieutenant Debiued of same core for the monitoring of ‘Doab Canal’, originating from Eastern bank of Yamuna River.

Establishment of top of Western Yamuna Canal was done by Lieutenant Blane in such a way, so that flood could be controlled and helped in circulation of restricted water in the canals. This canal was started in year 1821 and the length of canal and its branches was 712 K.M. Survey of Eastern Yamuna Canal was firstly done by Lieutenant Debiued in year 1822. Thereafter, Colonel Robert Smith of Engineer core completed the various works of this canal system in 1830. The normal smoothening canal depends on watershed. For the very first time this canal started working from 3rd January 1830 after completion of these works. After two weeks of operation, on 20th January 1830 it was noticed that all bridges constructed on North of Saharanpur and on South of Suravali all get into the situation of destruction. Alongwith the possibilities of destruction it was also noticed that because of huge amount of silt which was brought from upper portion of canal, covered whole of the canal. To solve all these problems, this task was handed over to Colonel P.Cautley, who was the assistant of Colonel Smith. As per need fall was constructed at selected places in such a way that bottomed slope of canal was 17 inch to 24 inch per mile. In 1836 after the revival of this canal was restarted successfully. Construction of Beejpur and Rajpur canal in Ramneek Doon Ghati was also done by Colonel  Cautley

To provide irrigation facility to productive land of Ganga Yamuna Doab, Colonel Cautley started the construction of a canal (known as Upper Ganga Canal) in 1842 by using Ganga water, whose envisaged capacity was 6750 cusec and it started working from 8th April 1854. The study of crisis and problems during earlier Upper Ganga construction it was done so thoroughly that was not done in any other project.

Bundelkhand is that part of the state where average annual rain is just 760 M.M.,which in result, creates the loss in surface and ground level water, that’s why storage of water for irrigation is maintained in ponds and reservoirs. In the middle of 8th and 12th century, Chandel rulers constructed around 4000 lakes, out of which few of them still exist. Thereafter dams were created in this region in British Era so that canal could easily be created for irrigation. In year 1885, to provide irrigation facility in the region of district Jalauna and Hamirpur, construction work of Betwa Canal completed and water got started supplying in it. In 1903, Second Drought Commission worked to take irrigation facility to that extent where the first commission has recommended it. To facilitate these facilities in Southern portion, Ken Canal in Banda District, Dhasan canal in Hamirpur district and Ghaghra lake in Mirzapur district and Garai lake in Mirzapur district were constructed in 1907, 1910, 1913 and 1915 respectively.

According to Recommendations of Second Drought Commission to provide irrigation facility in the center portion of State, Sharda Canal System was started in 1919 and completed in 1928.

Milestones of Irrigation Department, Uttar Pradesh
1817 Lord Hasting handed over the task of maintenance of canal originating from western bank of Yamuna River to Lieutenant Blane of Engineering Core.
1821 Operation of Western Yamuna Canal.
1822 Lord Hasting handed over the task of maintenance of Doab canal originating from Eastern bank of Yamuna River to Lieutenant Dibuied.
1823 Establishment of first Irrigation Office in Saharanpur.
1830 Operation of Eastern Yamuna Canal.
1842 Construction started of Upper Ganga Canal By Colonel Proby Cautley.
1854 Supply of water in Upper Ganga Canal.
1855 Establishment of Central Public Works Department.
1871 Approval to construction of Lower Ganga Canal.
  • Construction of Agra Canal System started.
  • Operation of Lower Ganga Canal started.
1880 Recommendation of providing Irrigation facility in 40% land of total Culturable land in Bundelkhand by Drought Commission.
1885 Construction work of Betwa Canal completed.
1886 Betwa Canal got operated for irrigation in Jalauna and Hamirpur districts.
1898 Construction of Fatehpur Water Branch.
1903 Formation of Second Drought Commission, in which it Reiterated to provide irrigation facility as recommended by First Drought Commission.
1906 Construction started of Lehchura Dam on Dhasan River.
1907 Construction of Dhasan Canal.
1909 Construction Started if Pahadi Dam on Dhasan River.
  • Construction completed of Lehchura dam on Dhasan River.
  • Construction of Dhukva Dam.
1912 Construction completed of Pahadi dam on Dhasan River.
1913 Construction of Ghagra Canal.
  • Construction of Garai Canal.
  • Construction of Gangau Dam on Ken River.
1919 Construction started of Sharda Canal System.
1928 Construction completed of Sharda Canal System.
1952 Construction started of Matateela Dam.
1954 Formation of PWD and Irrigation Department.
1955 First flood work started by Irrigation Department.
1956 Discharge of Yamuna canal is increased to 2500 cusec from 800 cusec.
1957 Construction completed of Narayani Canal System.
  • Construction of Rihand dam.
  • Establishment of Irrigation Research Institution in Rurkee.
  • Setting up of Control Design Directorate at Lucknow.
  • Construction completed of Matateela Dam.
  • Technical Examination Wing established in Secretariat for Irrigation Department.
1968 Sharda Sahayk Canal construction started.
1972 Construction of Gandak Canal System.
1973 Construction started of Rajghat canal.
1974 Construction of Western Prayagraj Branch.
1977 Commencement of Kanhar project.
  • Construction started of Bheemgauda dam.
  • Construction of Saryu canal.
  • Construction completed of Bheemgauda dam.
  • Construction of Parallel Lower Ganges Canal.
1994 Construction of Gandak Canal System completed.
1996 Beginning of Baan Sagar Project.
2003 The Infomation System Organization  establish in Irrigation Department in July 2012 under Project Component C-I Consolidation and Enhancement of Irrigation Department reforms Organization/department with activity UPID Modernization & Capacity Building In Uttar Pradesh Water Sector Restructuring Phase-II. The Following works executed by ISO mainly using modern Technology.   Establishment of SCADA Syestem in Various Structure of Canal System for Real Time Discharge.   Development of Mobile App for Flood Information System.
2017 Application of Remote Sensing Technique in Flood Information System  Application of Web Based  Technique in Monitoring Management System.
2018 Completion of Baan Sagar Canal project.
2019 Completion of New Lahchura Dam downstream of Old Lahchura Dam constructed in 1910.
  • Completion of Saryu Canal National Project.
  • Completion of Arjun Sahayak Project.
  • Completion of Bhawni Dam Project.
  • Completion of Rasin Dam project.
  • First Canal Top Solar Plant of 2.5 mw on Jakhlaun Pump Canal made operational.
  • Second Canal Top Solar Plant of 3.42 mw made operational.
  • First Sprinkler Irrigation Project – Majhgaon Chilli Sprinkler Project in district Lalitpur made operational.
  • Uttar Pradesh awarded first prize in Best State Category of National Water Award.
  • Dhukwan weir located across river Betwa included in “World Heritage Irrigation Structures” by International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID).