Practice of irrigation in India can be traced to prehistoric times. Water from wells, tanks, and canals was used intensively for irrigation practices. India has immense resources in terms of land and water, but until 1960-1961 only 9% of total annual surface water flow available had been tapped for irrigation. Out of nearly 467,000,000 acres of arable area available, only 70,000,000 acres were irrigated during 1960-1961. Today (1964) food production is India’s most important problem and, consequently, irrigation plays an important part in the national economy and welfare. Hence, top priority was given to irrigation and power in the First Five-Year Plan 1951-1956.
By Asit K. Biswas, 1965. Article published in Journal of the Irrigation and Drainage Division, Volume 91, Number 1, pages 179-189.