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Orissa Canals . . . . . . . . Bengal... o Midnapur Canal .....
Sone Canal . . . . . . . . .
For all these reasons, the area irrigated in India varies from year to year.
But there are large tracts of country where no canals or other irrigation works have yet been constructed; and the famines of 1897 and 1900 once more directed the attention of the Government to a duty yet unfulfilled. At last, in 1901, measures were adopted which should have been taken twenty years before; and a Commission was appointed to inquire into the extent to which irrigation works could be extended in India. Sir Colin ScottMoncrieff, who had served in the irrigation department in India, and had distinguished himself by his great and successful irrigation works in Egypt, was elected the head of the Commission; and the result of his labours has recently appeared in four Blue Books of very respectable size.
The second volume contains a summary of the irrigation works done in India, and the suggestions of the
Commission for future works. In the Punjab, the Commission recommend the postponement of the Lower Bari-Doab scheme, and suggest the bolder scheme of a canal from the Chinab to be carried across the valley of the Ravi. In Sindh, the further development of the existing inundation canals is proposed. In Gujrat, the Commission make a valuable proposal to find suitable sites for storage works on the Sabarmati, Mahi, and Narbada rivers, and for the construction of canals from these reservoirs for the irrigation of Ahmadabad and Kaira. And for the Deccan they make a similar but bolder proposal that the catchment areas of all the rivers which derive their supplies from the unfailing rainfall of the Western Ghats should be examined with a view to the construction of storage works, and to the excavation of canals from these works to parts of the country urgently in need of protection. In Madras, the extension of the Kurnool-Cuddapa canal and a complete investigation of the Tumbhadra project are recommended; and large storage works for the Kaveri and the Krishna are also proposed. In Bengal, storage works and canals for the irrigation of Shahabad and Muzaffarpur Districts are proposed. And in Agra and Oudh, the Commission strongly recommend the construction of the Ken canal for the protection of Banda and Bandelkhand, and also a diversion of the Sarda water into the Ganges, utilising a portion of it for the irrigation of Bijnor and Budaon. Besides these and other large works, there is a wide field for the construction of works of a humbler class, the majority of which will not cost more than £60,000, while some may cost even less than £6000. “There is a great deal to be said in favour of such works. They afford protection to many tracts which cannot be brought within the scope of larger and more ambitious schemes; they involve much less financial risk; and on most of them work can be started for the purpose of employing relief labour with some assurance that the works are likely to be completed.”
Both in regard to the smaller works and the major works, the Commission strongly recommend their construction for the protection of agriculture even when they are not likely to be directly remunerative. “There are other small works which are never likely to be directly remunerative, but which we have no hesitation in recommending, as we have recommended many major works, on the ground that they afford the only means of providing protection against drought to tracts that are greatly in want of it. Foremost among these we would place the works which we have proposed in the ricegrowing districts of the Central Provinces. But we hope that many works of the same kind may be possible in other tracts such as are to be found in Gujrat, Berar, Chota Nagpur, and Bandelkhand." The Government of India and the Provincial Governments, which have so often been compelled to remit portions of the Land Revenue after the devastations caused by recent famines, will no doubt feel that, even from a purely financial point of view, it is a sound and wise policy to undertake these large and small irrigation works, even when they are not likely to be “ directly remunerative."
A wise suggestion is made by the Commission for the appointment of a Central Board invested with the responsibility of regularly watching and reporting progress in irrigation works in the future. The recommendation might be somewhat widened ; a Central Board for all public works, including railways, might be formed; and some Indian Members, qualified by their administrative experience and their knowledge of the needs of their countrymen, should be appointed to the Board. The Public Works of India are represented by one member of the Viceroy's Council, generally an engineer. He looks at questions from an engineer's point of view, and does not know the requirements of agriculture. He is amenable to pressure for railway extensions, but is not cognisant of the desires and the needs of the people of India. During half a century, numerous works have been constructed which the country did not urgently need, and many works have been neglected which were vital to the protection of agriculture. Gathering wisdom from past experience, the Government may now think it expedient and necessary to admit some popular element in a Board of Public Works. It would be the duty of the Board to supervise the construction of all the public works in the future; to represent the needs and requirements of railway passengers on State and Guaranteed lines alike; to adjust the water rate imposed on cultivators so as to safeguard the revenue without being unjust to the people; and generally to help the Government of India in a branch of administration which is in special need of the co-operation and help of the people.
THERE was a growing feeling of uneasiness at the continuous increase of the Indian Debt and the Indian expenditure. There was a complaint that the apportionment of charge between Great Britain and India was neither just nor expedient. Able and cautious financiers had reduced the Public Debt of Great Britain by over a hundred and fifty millions after the Crimean War, but there was no decrease in the Indian Debt. On the contrary, the cost of the Abyssinian and other wars had been unjustly charged to India, and a needless Afghan war had swelled the Indian Debt. Mr. Gladstone had marked the growing evil with pain and solicitude; he had appointed a Select Committee on Indian Finance to remedy it; but the Finance Committee discontinued its work after 1874 and achieved no results. Mr. Gladstone had also relieved the Indian Exchequer of five millions sterling, which was paid out of the Imperial Exchequer as a portion of the cost of the Afghan War of 1878. But the balance, about eighteen millions sterling, fell on India. During the long administration of Lord Salisbury, from 1886 to 1892, Indian finance went from bad to worse; Indian expenditure increased under the rule of Lords Dufferin and Lansdowne. When Mr. Gladstone formed his fourth and last administration in 1892, the people of India looked for some redress. For the first time in the history of the British Parliament, an Indian was elected as a Member. Born in 1825, Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji had from his early youth devoted