The closure of the Indira Gandhi Canal, considered the lifeline for northern and western Rajasthan districts, for repair and relining of feeders, is set to have an impact on the drinking and irrigation needs of 1.75 crore people in the State.
- The Indira Gandhi Canal, originally called, Rajasthan Canal is the longest canal in India.
- It starts at the Harike Barrage near Harike, in Punjab and ends in Thar Desert in the northwest of Rajasthan state.
- It was renamed the Indira Gandhi Canal on 2 November 1984 following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
- The canal enters Haryana from Punjab near Lohgarh and runs through the western part of the Sirsa district before entering Rajasthan near Kharakhera village of the Hanumangarh district.
- Barmer, Bikaner, Churu, Hanumangarh, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Sriganganagar.
- It ends near Gunjangarh village in Jaisalmer district.
- The idea was conceived by an hydraulic engineer, Kanwar Sain in the late 1940s.
- In 1960, Indus Water Treaty was signed between India and Pakistan which gave India the right to use waters of three rivers –the Satluj, Beas and Ravi.
- The proposed Rajasthan Canal envisaged use of 7.6 million acre feet of this water.
- It provides irrigation water to an arid area in Rajasthan starting Ganganagar district to Jalselmer along the Indo-Pakistan border.
- It has helped turn an important part of the Thar desert to an agricultural area.
- Animal husbandry has also flourished.
- It also supplies drinking water to the towns and villages and helped in urbanisation of the area.
- Spread of irrigated agriculture has halted spreading of sand dunes, increased the tree cover and change in overall ecology.
- It serves as a barrier to military invasion from Pakistan side if there is an armed conflict.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB