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Water Development in India: An Historical Overview

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Bottrall, Anthony
Conference: Colloquium at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis
Location: Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Conf. Date: April 3
Date: 1991
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5390
Sector: History
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): water resources
Abstract: "Total annual rainfall varies widely among different regions of the Indian subcontinent, as do other features of the physical environment (topography, soils, river flows, groundwater storage). However, a common feature of nearly all regions, even those with high precipitations (1200 mm. and above), is a very intense concentration of their rainfall within 3-4 monsoon months. Agriculture in all regions with such rainfall patterns thus stands to benefit substantially from some form of control or conservation of water so that it can be used during drier parts of the year. To simplify discussion (and, in the process, inevitably over-schematize things), we shall focus in this paper on three main regions, each with strongly contrasting agro-climatic characteristics: (1) the low-rainfall (500-700 mm) plains of the North West (Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, extending westward into Pakistan); (2) the higher-rainfall (700-1500 mm), flood-prone Eastern Gangetic plains (eastern Uttar Pradesh, north Bihar, West Bengal, extending eastwards into Bangladesh); and (3) the drought-prone undulating/hilly terrains of the central Deccan plateau, which can be further sub-divided into (A) lower-rainfall (400-700 mm) areas with a long history of settled agriculture (western Maharashtra, western Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu), and (B) higher-rainfall (700-1300 mm) areas, traditionally remote and forested but coming increasingly under cultivation by predominantly aboriginal 'tribal' people (eastern Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, south Bihar, western Orissa)."

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