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Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/152

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CHAPTER XIII

CANALS

Importance of Canals.- One need have no hesitation in placing among the greatest achievements of British rule in the Pan jab the magnificent system of irrigation canals which it has given to the province. Its great alluvial plain traversed by large rivers drawing an unfailing supply of water from the Himalayan snows affords an ideal field for the labours of the canal engineer. The vastness of the arid areas which without irrigation yield no crops at all or only cheap millets and pulses makes his works of inestimable benefit to the people and a source of revenue to the State.

Canals before annexation.— In the west of the province we found in existence small inundation canals dug by the people with some help from their rulers. These only ran during the monsoon season, when the rivers were swollen. In 1626 Shahjahan's Persian engineer, Ali Mardan Khan, brought to Delhi the water of the canal dug by Firoz Shah as a monsoon channel and made perennial by Akbar. But during the paralysis of the central power in the eighteenth century the channels became silted up. The same able engineer dug a canal from the Ravi near Madhopur to water the royal gardens at Lahore. What remained of this work at annexation was known as the Hasli.

Extent of Canal Irrigation.— In 1911-12, when the deficiency of the rainfall made the demand for water