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Irrigation Sources in Bundelkhand

Groundwater, mainly extracted from open wells, is the main source of irrigation in Bundelkhand. In UP Bundelkhand canals are a major source of irrigation. In Panna, Sagar and Damoh, water from mountain springs are a major 'other' source of irrigation. Some tanks built by medieval Chandela and Bundela rulers are used for canal irrigation, especially in Tikamgarh district.

Percentage of net irrigated area and sources of irrigation in UP Bundelkhand (2003-04) and MP Bundelkhand (2005-06) districts 


Net irrigated area as % of net sown area

% of net irrigated area by source
Canals Tanks Tubewells

Other wells

Other sources
Jhansi 64 45 7 3 43 2
Lalitpur 79 33 21 11 33 1
Jalaun 54 76 2 17 5 Neg
Hamirpur 36 41 2 34 21 2
Mahoba 48 36 18 2 43 1
Banda 34 63 5 26 7 Neg
Chitrakoot 29 38 17 25 19 Neg
UP Bundelkhand 50 48 10 14 26 1
UP 79 21 1 71 7 Neg
Datia 68 55 Neg 1 42 Neg
Chhatarpur 56 9 2 Neg 75 12
Tikamgarh 68 8 6 5 76 4
Panna 33 12 7 7 22 52
Damoh 36 9 Neg 26 24 41
Sagar 44 2 1 17 50 31
MP Bundelkhand 50 14 3 9 53 21
MP 38 18 3 26 40 14

Source: District-wise Land Use Statistics, Directorate of Economics & Statistics, Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, May 2008. Percentages derived from absolute figures and rounded off to nearest integer. Neg=<1%

Note: Data given in the table indicates only area covered, and not quality of irrigation, understood in terms of amount of water available at required intervals, according to crops and stage of crop growth. The quality of irrigation in Bundelkhand is poor due to rainfall pattern and unfavourable geological and topographical conditions (see Impact of Bundelkhand's geo profile on human life and Groundwater Use) which limit water availability, and poor maintenance of tanks and canals. Quality of irrigation has not unfortunately been studied in depth.

Dug (open) wells provide water to over 40% of the net irrigated area in Jhansi, Mahoba, Datia and Sagar districts, and over 70% of the net irrigated area in Chhatarpur and Tikamgarh districts.

Since the 1990s tubewells have emerged as a major source of irrigation in Hamirpur, Banda, Chitrakoot and Damoh districts. However, in the region as a whole, usage of water from tubewells for irrigation is low.

The main reason is high cost of drilling due to hard strata and high chances of failure. Assessing groundwater availability in crystalline rocks is a very complex matter; possibilities of extracting groundwater vary considerably among different rocks and also in the same rock at different places.

Tanks, natural or manmade ponds, and lined or unlined wells, recharged by the first-named structures, were the main resources for irrigation in Bundelkhand till advent of British rule, when dams and canals were built.

A surface irrigation system of around 6800 km of canals, built during British rule, accounts for most of irrigation in the Jalaun, Banda and Hamirpur plains, covering over 300,000 hectares.

However, due to poor maintenance, the canal system built during British rule is in a poor state; at many locations it is of no use.

Canals built during British rule and after Independence provide water to 50% of the net irrigated area of UP Bundelkhand - over  30% of the net irrigated area in Jhansi, Lalitpur, Mahoba and Chitrakoot districts, and over 60% of the net irrigated area in Banda and Jalaun districts.

In MP Bundelkhand, canals are the major source of irrigation only in Datia.

A major ' other' source of irrigation, in hilly areas of southern Bundelkhand, is water from mountain springs, called 'jhirnas'. Water running down a slope through several streams is impounded by a series of low, bund-type structures built across the slope. Water from this source, along with water lifted directly from rivers, accounts for a considerable part of the net irrigated area in Panna, Damoh and Sagar districts.

In some black soil areas, rain water is impounded in bunded fields during the monsoon and sowing of rabi crops is done after releasing the water.

A large number of tanks are seen in the Bundelkhand Intermediate and Bundelkhand Upland sub-regions, which also abound in natural or manmade ponds called pokhariyan or talabs. While many tanks were built by medieval Chandela or Bundela rulers, smaller tanks were built by large landlords. Virtually every large rural habitation in these sub-regions is close to a tank or pond.

Together the tanks and ponds directly provide water to over 15% of the net irrigated area in Lalitpur, Mahoba and Chitrakoot districts and are also significant source of irrigation in Jhansi, Tikamgarh and Panna districts.

There are a few lift irrigation schemes sourcing water obstructed by weirs in Banda and Hamirpur districts.

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