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Irrigation general in the Province.


unlikely that a vast system of irrigation was commenced in Mulik Umber's time, when Khandesh was one of the fifteen viceroyalties or subas, into which Akbar's empire was divided after his death ; and this is confirmed by the fact that the stone uprights of the bhundarras belonging to Patonde near Challeesgaum and other places are composed of small pillars taken from Hindu temples. While the Hindus appear to have contended themselves with the construction of vast reservoirs for the reception of water -many of them magnificent works of the kind,--the Mohamedans directed tireir attention to the conveyance of water; and, judging from the simple and admirable contrivances for this in the neighbourhood of Ahmednuggur, from the vast remains which exhibit skill of the same sort at Burhampoor, and from what we have seen in many other places, we conclude that the Mohamedans were the hydraulic engineers on this side of India.

From the various remains to be seen everywhere of bhundarras, some in a perfect, and many in a ruined condition, it appears certain that this system universally prevailed, though more particularly in localities adjoining the hills by which the Province is on three sides surrounded. A large river, the Taptee, running east and west through it, fed by innumerable tributaries—some of them considerable streams-offers peculiar facilities for this sort of irrigation ; but we doubt whether it can generally be applied in all places, and of course certain geographical features in a country are absolutely necessary for its full development. Hilly tracts of country, with well-defined spurs running out and forming narrow valleys, are peculiarly favourable ; the vicinity of all large ranges of hills is advantageous also ; extensive open plains are, generally speaking, we should say, unfavourable. A good example of a suitable country is the Baglan talooka, in this Province ; for, besides the range of hills, which are a continuation of the western ghauts, and divide that district from the Dang on the west, there are several spurs running out in an easterly direction, parallel with each other; and to the south ward again the Chandore hills. The consequence is, that in the talooka there are ninety-seven dams, and the remains of many others. At present this system of irrigation is confined almost exclusively to the Western Districts of Khandesh, comprising Pimpulnair, Baglan, Malligaum, Dhoolia, Nundoorbar, Sooltanpoor, and Amulnair.

The talooka of Pimpulnair is the second in importance of the districts at present irrigated. There are in it altogether fifty-six bhundarras, the principal portion being across the Panjur, Kan, and Borai rivers, tributaries of the Taptee.


The talooka of Baglan, as its name implies, must have been at one time particularly fertile. There are in it at present ninetyseven bhundarras-most of them lying across the Moosim, Arrum, and Geerna—and its capabilities are unbounded. The banks of some of these rivers near the hilly tracts being very steep, form, as it were, small secondary valleys, and where this is the case a valuable addition to the irrigated lands is found in the small patches which are thus presented for cultivation. There are abundant means for the improvement of this fine district, as the soil is fine, and there is no want of water ; but the great draws backs are poverty, and what is worse a sad deficiency of population. There is scarcely a bhundarra worked out to its full powers ; and, owing to the equal rates of assessment, the cultivation of sugar-cane is forced to such an extent that the great quantity of water required for it has tended towards a diminution of irrigated cultivation in general.

Considering that there are twelve blundarras in the talooka of Malligaum, and 1182 beegas under cultivation, yielding a revenue of 12,504 rupees, we may pronounce its circumstances, as compared with those of other districts, favourable. One bhundarra alone irrigates 389 beegas, and affords a revenue of 7,446 rupees. This belongs to the villages of Dhabarree and Patna, having a channel of irrigation at each end, which is somewhat unusual. When the supply of water is abundant, and the land conveniently situated for irrigation on both sides, there is not the slightest reason why dams should not be similarly constructed.

The principal river in the talooka of Dhoolia is the Panjur, across which thirteen of the eighteen dams are thrown. Those belonging to the villages of Nahlode, Koossoomba, Dhoolia, and Neir, are the most valuable. As the river approaches its junction with the Taptee, it becomes very broad, with shallow banks, and its water is therefore spread over a great extent of surface. Some of the bhundarras are of the most irregular form ; taking advantage, where it is possible, of the sheet-rock, they become very straggling, extending a great length before the opposite bank of the river is reached.

The melancholy condition of the Nundoorbar talooka is but too apparent. Most of its sixty dams-all thrown across small

— tributaries of the Taptee-are at present useless, and only 204 beegas are under irrigation, yielding a revenue of 925 rupees. In seasons when there is a plentiful supply of water, no doubt the repairs of these dams would be attended with much benefit, but the talooka does not naturally admit of much irrigation by this

Dams in the Western Districts.


description of works. From the nature of the ground, however, which is in many places very hilly, as well as from the small valleys spread over a large portion of the district, we conclude triat its capabilities for the formation of vast tanks, at a small expense, are extraordinary. This opinion is established by the remains of such works to be met with at twenty-eight places. At Nundoorbar there were three, and there was one at each of the following villages :-Dhoodalla, Bheelsa weecheebaree, Choupalla, Bahleir, Wurwud, Wurbharra, Kokralla, Wawud, Akutwarree, Nimbail, Jeerra, Bulwund, Tulwarra, Rajalla, Jeytana, Welawud, Akralla, Nimgool, Kondamullee, Soone Moide, Durna, Lonekheira, Raighur, Shaida, and Shumsheerpoor. Few of these bad masonry bunds, but in some the remains of the earthern mounds are of great size. That at Choupalla, which is now almost useless, more resembles a range of low hills than an embankment.

In the talooka of Sooltanpoor there is only one bbundarra, and that is across the Gomai river, about two miles and a half from the town of Shada; but of course many more might be constructed in the vicinity of the Satpooras, which are here large mountains with abundance of water, and a beautiful soil. As it is, miles and miles of jungle prevail with a thinly scattered population, mostly Bheels, who have not yet become adepts at agriculture. The single dam is an example to slow what miglit be done. It supplies six villages with water, thus irrigating 516 beegas, from which an annual revenue of 3,097 rupees is derived. We know of no better bhundarra ; its powers of irrigation are great, and, properly worked, it would irrigate double the quantity of land it does at present ; but the water-courses are long and ill cared for by the villagers, and the wastage of the precious fluid is enormous.

In the talooka of Amulnair are ten dams, irrigating 955 beegas; from which an annual revenue of 5,724 rupees is derived. The principal river is the Panjur, across which six of the ten are constructed, and of these, the dams of Amulnair, Mandal, Mole; and Betawud are the best. Scarcely any are worked to their full powers, and they are generally much neglected. The liberal and enlightened policy of the early Mohamedan monarchs is attested by the enormous expense which must have attended their construction ; but while the dam itself has been built with the greatest care, the water-course has evidently occupied secondary attention; and it will generally be found that it requires much more skill and judgment in repairing, improving, or relaying out than the dam itself. On this subject we will now make a few remarks.

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The water-courses of Khandesh are generally in a very iinperfect state. They were laid out at first with the strictest economy, making long detours, as we said, to avoid the necessity either for cuttings or aqueducts. The repairs which they have received have consisted in replacing with stone what has been carried away, particularly in situations where they run along the banks of the river, and a large extent of breast wall had to be constructed. Apparently, not the slightest attempt has been ever made to straighten them. They follow the windings of the ground; nor were the great length, the consequent waste of water by evaporation and absorption, or the loss of level, subjects of consideration. Under these circumstances, when slight repairs are indispensable, they should be made with the cheapest material. Unless it is clear that the line of the present water-course is the best that could have been selected, it should be abandoned when extensive repairs are necessary, and a better be constructed. The best will usually be that which runs direct from the bhundarra to the land which it is proposed to irrigate. This straight line should be laid out and carefully examined ; and if a departure from it is absolutely necessary, it should be resorted to again, so soon as the nature of the ground will permit. As a general rule, the water-course should avoid the banks of the river; otherwise it will be in danger of being washed away, or at least seriously injured by floods. Where it is impossible to avoid the banks, in all extensive repairs, a breast wall, with sluices to scour it, should be built along the whole extent. The villagers are applying more and more urgently every day to have such walls constructed, as they save their embankments from injury, and indeed render them almost unnecessary,

The cultivators are affected in many ways by the imperfect state of the water-courses, which, as now laid out, receive not only the deposit from the rivers, but the mud and sand washed down by every trifling nullah ; and the time which in July might be occupied in preparing the ground for rice, is taken up in clearing the channels for water. The nullals, too, frequently destroy the lower side of the water-course, and when that is protected by a wall, the deposit is increased. In repairing a water-course thoroughly, a trench should be dug on the upper side, so that the drainage of the country, passing either above or below, may not interfere with it. Besides having a straight direction from the dam to the land, the water-course should have an uninterrupted channel, and whatever obstacles oppose it must be overcome, care, however, being taken that the drainage of the country is humoured, and that it meets with no obstruction. The method pursued by the

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villagers in clearing the water-course frequently does larm. As in all cases they attribute any perceptible diminution in the supply of water to the want of digging, excavation is their only cure, and to such an extent has this been generally carried, that nine water-courses out of ten would, if accurately levelled, be found below the fields entered in the old records as watered. Under the village superintendence, they are cleared as follows :the cultivators, having assembled with ploughs and wakkurs, dig the sole as far as can be done with ease, removing by hand the lumps which are consistent enough to be handed on to the top of the banks. They then open the sluice and let off the disturbed water, with all the mud it can be made to hold in solution, thus reducing the soil from a foot to a foot and a half below the level at which it had been fixed by the action of the water prior to its being disturbed. The constant deepening of the water by clearing, the wearing away of the bank, and the accumulation of decayed vegetation, certainly in time make the relative levels of the land and water-course very different from what they were when the work was first constructed ; and we have no doubt this will often be found to be the case with fields near the dam, which are generally of a higher level than such as are further down the water-course.

A serious injury and waste of water are also caused by the villagers driving their carts across them in all directions, and allowing cattle to stray in them. This can only be avoided by having convenient bridges, and by hedging in, or otherwise protecting, the channel on each side. On this point it is impossible to lay down fixed rules. If hired labour were adopted, it would be absolutely necessary to inflict some penalty on the village, when injuries arise from carelessness. At present, either from defects in the

, assessment, or from some other reason which we cannot assign, the utmost indifference and carelessness are exhibited by the villagers in such matters, and in general the works are grossly neglected. Possibly the cause may be found in the equalisation of rates, a consequence of which is the increased cultivation of sugar-cane ; and as the richer villagers, who are few in numbers, can alone attempt this, their poorer neighbours, who are also debarred to a great extent by the rates from cultivating the less costly crops, derive little advantage from the works, and naturally feel indifferent about their condition. The want of bridges is seen where the main roads of the village traverse the courses, and where the cultivators are compelled to cross in communicating with their fields ; if the water be running freely over the sole of an aqueducta

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