The Punjab-Haryana Plain of India!
Punjab-Haryana plain is made up of fertile alluvium. Between the stony and highly broken slopes of the Himalayan Mountains to the north and the waterless tract to the south, this plain stretches like a corridor and merges in the Ganga Plain.
The general slope is towards south-west. Its elevation varies from 275 meters in the north to 213 meters in the south-east and 176 meters near Fazilka in the south-west.
The Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej drain only one-fourth of the area of this region, in the north.
The Yamuna drains only a narrow strip of land lying on its right bank. The Ghaggar which flows past Jakhal and Sirsa is rainy season stream. Apart from the Ghaggar no other river perennial or non-perennial crosses the 362 km long strip of land stretching between Delhi and Fazilka.
The Sarasvati (now dried up) too poured its water into Ghaggar. The Ghaggar later dwindled to insignificance because (i) the Sutlej changed its course and began to flow westwards from Ropar to merge into the Beas, and (ii) the headwaters of the Sarasvati were captured in stages by the westward shift of the course of the Yamuna. In south Aravalli range breaks the monotony of the plain.
There are two climate types, humid sub-tropical with dry winters and sub-tropical steppe prevail in this region. The rest of the area which forms the major part of this plain, has sub-tropical steppe (BSh) climate.
A major part of the annual rainfall is received in the months of July, August and September. Western depressions bring a few centimeters of rainfall during the months from December to April.
The well and canal irrigation have favoured agriculture. The Sutlej, the Ravi and Yamuna are life giving river of this region. Areas near the rivers are served better with irrigation provided both by wells and canals.
There are eighty-one percent of the net areas sown irrigated in this region. Area under irrigation, however, varies from district to district. Two tracts are poorly served with irrigation-one runs as a narrow belt adjacent to the Siwalik Range and is comprised by Hoshiarpur, Ropar and Ambala districts; the other sprawls south of a line passing through Gurgaon and Hissar towns.
There is hundred per cent electrification of villages and towns of this region.
There are good networks of canal in this region which are as follows:
(1) The Upper Bari Daob Canal was completed during 1878-79. This canal takes off from the Ravi. The weir is built at Madhopur (near Pathankot). It irrigates about 335,710 hectares of land in Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts.
(2) The Sirhind Canal was completed in 1886. It takes off from the left bank of the Sutlej. The weir which diverts the water of the Sutlej into this canal is constructed near Ropar. The canal irrigates about 600,170 hectares in Ludhiana, Patiala, Sangrur, Bhatinda and Ferozepore districts.
(3) The Western Yamuna Canal was completed in 1886. This canal provides irrigation to Karnal, Rohtak, Jind and Hissar districts and Delhi State. The canal takes off from the right bank of the Yamuna. The weir which diverts the water of the river into this canal is constructed at Tajewala (Ambala district).
(4) The Bhakra Nangal Canal System is the largest canal system and it irrigates about 1,230,000 hectares of land lying in the northern districts of Haryana and southern districts of the Punjab.
(5) The Eastern Grey Canal was completed in 1933. It irrigates mainly the northern part of Ferozepore district. The weir which diverts the water of the Sutlej into this canal is built across the river near Ferozepore town.
The Chos, Water Logging and Thur:
This region is engrossed with the menace of water logging and excessive soil salinity or thur.
There are large numbers of seasonal hill torrents which leave the Siwalik Range and enter the level plain. These torrents are swollen with water soon after heavy showers in the neighbouring hills and carry with them a heavy load of coarse sand and silt.
They are furious when rushing to the plains. They are called ‘chos’ in the plain where their beds are broad, braided, shallow and sandy. They are quite numerous and in some places every kilometer has a ‘chos’.
The ‘chos’ have laid waste large area of the fertile plain. Land is rendered sterile by the triple action of ‘chos’, that is by:
(i) The lateral corrosion near the hills,
(ii) The waywardness of the ‘chos’ in the plain spreading loose sand over large area, and
(iii) The winds which carry sand too far off places.
The Hoshiarpur district of Punjab is worst affected by chos.
An area with sub-soil water level within 1.52 meters below the surface is called water-logged area. As nearly one-third of the water which flows in the unlined canals of western Yamuna the Sirhind and upper Baridoab seep into the sub-soil, water-table has been rising near such canals though imperceptibly since long.
Unusually heavy rainfalls have further aggravated the water logging problem. In some location menace of water-logging is accompanied with the formation of alkali soil or thur’ at the surface. In this region of deficient rainfall, there is excessive evaporation of water from the soil. The rising sub-soil water brings up the salts which are left behind after the water has evaporated.
This region is agriculturally ahead of other region of India due to alluvial plain and irrigation facilities. The Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, has done excellent work in propagating the cultivation of high -yielding varieties of crops and disseminating improved methods of cultivation among the farmers.
Almost 82 percent of the total area of this region is under cultivation. This high percentage of the net area sown to the total area of this region is not there in the other regions of India. The factors like mildly cool winters and hot summers enable this fertile plain to grow a variety of crops. Wheat, rice, gram, bajra, cotton, sugarcane and oilseeds are the main crops.
Irrigation from canals or wells is available with the result that rabi crops are more important than the Kharif crops. Failure of crops is rare in the districts running along the Siwalik Range and receiving rainfall more than 65 cm. a year.
Intensive cultivation is practised. High yields are obtained by sowing high- yielding varieties of crops and using fertilizers and water. In the Punjab, wheat is the leading crop of rabi season and rice that of Kharif season. In the rabi season wheat appears almost everywhere. It occupies 86 percent of the total area under crops in this season. In the old canal-irrigated areas, water-logging near some high-level canals is common. Only rice grows in water logged area.
This is the main crop of this region. More than one-third of the total cultivated area of this region is devoted to this- crop. It is cultivated mainly in the irrigated areas. The Punjab and the eastern districts of Haryana State are important producers of wheat.
It is the leading crop of the Punjab occupying about 45 percent of cropped area and of Haryana which has 35 percent area is under it. It is generally sown during November and harvested during April.
Relatively long growing period (about 51/2 months) for wheat in this region is one of the important factors contributing to the increase in per hectare yield of this food grain. The productivity of which was 2602 kg. /hectare in 2004-05 has increased to 3057 kg/hectare in 2011-12.
Area under gram keeps on varying in this region. Gram is raised mainly in the semi-arid southwestern part of this region. A few showers during winter are enough for the successful growth of gram.
It is, therefore, the chief rabi crop in the un-irrigated areas. Hissar and Sirsa districts (Haryana) are important producers of gram and account for nearly 40% of the total gram produced in Haryana.
Three-fourths of the total area under cotton lies in the relatively dry but canal-irrigated districts of Ferozepore, Faridkot, Bhatinda, Sangrur, Sirsa, Hissar and Jind. Area under cotton has trebled since 1970-71. Since it is mainly an irrigated crop, yield per unit area is high and is highest in Punjab.
Hissar and Sirsa districts are the principal cotton producing areas in Haryana. Faridkot district is the leading producer of cotton in the Punjab of this region.
Rice is the most important crop of this region of Kharif season. More than half of the area cultivated during the season is under paddy. An assured irrigation by tube-wells and canals and a good demand for this cereal, have established paddy as an important crop in the Punjab.
Cattle and Dairying:
Haryana is known for breed of bulls and Murrah breed of buffaloes which are famous animals of semi-arid south-western districts. Cattle and buffalo breeding is a subsidiary occupation of some farmers.
Since buffaloes of Murrah breed yield relatively large quantity of rich milk, they are sold to dairies located at far off towns namely Mumbai, Kolkata and Nagpur. Bulls of Haryana breed are also purchased by the neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh.
Power and Irrigation:
There is no coal and petroleum so hydel power has been developed by taking advantage of favourable condition.
(i) The Uri River Scheme:
It was commissioned in 1933. A storage dam has been constructed across the Uri (a tributary of the Beas) at Brot in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. The power house is situated at Jogindernagar 1250 meters above sea-level. Early establishment of industry at Ludhiana, Amritsar and other towns in the north, is due mainly to the availability of power from this scheme.
(ii) The Bhakra Nangal Project:
To supply electricity to the power hungry north-western India and to extend irrigation in north-western Haryana and the south-western Punjab, Bhakra Nangal Project, a multi-purpose scheme of gigantic dimensions was commissioned in this region in 1948. A 226-meter high and 518 meter long straight gravity concrete dam has been constructed at a site.
Here the Sutlej before debauching into the Punjab Plain, comes out of a gorge cut by this river through a hill range called the Naina Devi Dhar. It is named Bhakra Dam after the name of the village Bhakra.
The reservoir of water behind this dam is 88 km. long with 9,128 million cubic meters storage capacity. 29-metre high Nangal Dam has been constructed 13 km. downstream from the Bhakra Dam.
The Nangal Dam diverts the river water to the Bhakra Irrigation Canals and also turns the turbines of the power houses at Ganguwal and Kotla situated at the nineteenth km. and twenty-ninth km. respectively from the Nangal Dam.
The project irrigates 1456,000 hectares and also provides perennial or increased supply of water to 1497,000 hectares already under non perennial irrigation.
(iii) The Beas Project:
It is a multi-purpose project. It consists of two major units (a) the Beas-Sutlej Link and (b) the Beas Dam at Pong. Both the units are located in Himachal Pradesh.
(a) The Beas-Sutlej Link. The Beas cuts a deep gorge through the Dhaoladhar Range’ at Larji. Below Larji the valley of the Beas is narrow and deep and at a higher level than that of the Sutlej. Its stretch between Larji and Mandi is quite close to the Sutlej. In view of these geographical advantages the Beas has been linked with the Sutlej.
(b) The Beas Dam. Below Pandoh, the Beas continues flowing through a deep and narrow valley until it enters the plains and broadens its course a few km. below the village Pong.
This dam has been constructed across the Beas near Pong which is about 130 km. downstream from Pandoh.
There are small scale industries such as the manufacture of woollen fabrics, bicycles, fertilizers, engineering goods, paper, sugar and cotton textiles.
Many industries are located on the main railways connecting Jagadhri with Amritsar and Ballabgarh with Ambala. Ballabgarh, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Sonepat, and Bahadurgarh have emerged as new industrial centres around Delhi.
Hosiery Industry is centred at Ludhiana which is the chief centre of woollen hosiery goods in India. It produces almost four-fifths of the total Indian woollen hosiery goods.
Sports Goods Industry is centred at Basti Nau, a suburb of Julluadur (Jalandhar) City. These are also made at Batala-and Amritsar. One-third of the sports goods are exported to other countries. The chief raw materials used by the industry are mulberry wood, willow, cane, leather and glue from this region.
Light Engineering Industries:
These industries are widely spread in this region. For example, scientific instruments are manufactured at Ambala, bicycle parts at Ludhiana and Malerkotla, agricultural implements at Batala, Barnala, Moga and Kotkapura, brass, copper and white metal utensils at Jagadhari and Amritsar, bolts, nuts, and screws at Amritsar and sewing machine parts at Bassi and Ludhiana. Jagadhari has become the hub of brass metal ware industry of this region.
The weaving of cotton and art silk fabrics are done with handloom and small scale power-loom. Textile industry is the leading industry of this region with Amritsar as the main manufacturing centre. Amritsar ranks next to Mumbai in the production of art silk fabrics.
Sonepat, Rajpura and Ludhiana, each has a large modern bicycle factory which produces more than 40 percent of the total bicycles produced in India.
The areas which receive more rainfall and where facilities of irrigation are available are more densely peopled. The northern and eastern districts are wetter and richer in sweet and potable underground water than the semi-arid south-western districts, they, therefore, attracted more people to settle there in the past.
As a whole the region is thickly populated. Delhi, the metropolitan city lies in this region. Besides it, Amritsar, Jallandhar, Ludhiana, Jagadhari-Yamunanagar, Chandigarh are important industrial town and cities of this region.