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The Different Kinds Of Land Drainage Systems Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 4853 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In simple terms Drainage is defined as the “natural or artificial removal of surface and sub-surface water from an area”. Many areas have some natural drainage; this means that excess water flows from the farmers’ fields to swamps or to lakes and rivers. Natural drainage, however, is often inadequate and artificial or man-made drainage is required.

There are two types of artificial drainage: surface drainage and subsurface drainage.

Surface drainage is the removal of excess water from the surface of the land. This is normally accomplished by shallow ditches, also called open drains. The shallow ditches discharge into larger and deeper collector drains. In order to facilitate the flow of excess water toward the drains, the field is given an artificial slope by means of land grading.

Subsurface drainage

Subsurface drainage is the removal of water from the root zone. It is accomplished by deep open drains or buried pipe drains.

Deep open drains:

The excess water from the root zone flows into the open drains. The disadvantage of this type of subsurface drainage is that it makes the use of machinery difficult.

2.2 Pipe drains

Pipe drains are buried pipes with openings through which the soil water can enter. The pipes convey the water to a collector drain

Deep open drains versus pipe drains:

Open drains use land that otherwise could be used for crops. They restrict the use of machines. They also require a large number of bridges and culverts for road crossings and access to the fields. Open drains require frequent maintenance (weed control, repairs, etc.).

In contrast to open drains, buried pipes cause no loss of cultivable land and maintenance requirements are very limited. The installation costs, however, of pipe drains may be higher due to the materials, the equipment and the skilled manpower involved.

The purpose of my study is to understand and analyze buyer behavior in Drainage Market in India. Thus before coming on to the technicalities of the topic, let’s see the basic definition of drainage system in general: In simple terms, Drainage system is “a system of watercourses or drains for carrying off excess water”.

Drainage system in India is mainly divided into three sub divisions:

Agricultural drainage

Road drainage

Industrial and Residential drainage

There are various types of drainage pipes; some are used to drain water off roofs while some are meant to drain water away from land. Often these drainage pipes are made of either:

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)


Corrugated Polyethylene


After the discussion of the types of drainage pipes, let’s see various advantages and disadvantages of each:

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)


Very durable

Can be recycled


Not flexible




Strong in Compression


Weak under tension

Corrugated Polyethylene



Easy to install





More earth friendly


More likely to crack

Thus above mentioned information in introduction may prove to be very handy in getting to know the basics of drainage market in India.


Irrigation Water Management: Training manual no.1 – Introduction to irrigation by Natural Resources Management and Environment Department.


Wise geek website, article on: “What is a Drainage Pipe” dated 9th September, 2010.


In India, drainage market is projected to be worth Rs. 50, 000 crores at present which is only 5 % of the PVC market in India and is projected to grow at the rate of 10% p.a.

An article by Mr. P. Singh, Vice President Honoraire, International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage/ICID, New Delhi, India reflects on the issue of drainage problems in India. In his article he has mentioned that almost the whole of India is situated in the tropical or sub-tropical region. Most of the rainfall is concentrated in a period of about 3 months of the monsoon season.

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The areas subject to annual flooding and drainage congestion lie in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. The annual rainfall in these areas varies between 1000 and 1500 mm. However, vast areas in the Punjab, Haryana and parts of Rajasthan also suffer from surface drainage problems due to the flat terrain and inadequacy of natural drainage; even though the annual rainfall is some what lower than 1000 mm. Areas in the flat plateaus of Madhya Pradesh also suffer occasionally from drainage congestion during spells of heavy monsoon rain lasting for 2 or 3 days.

The development of flood control and drainage in India started on a big scale only after the disastrous floods of 1954. Since then a total length of 26,119 km of drainage channels have been constructed in various States up to March 1985. The National Commission on Floods assessed that a total area of about 40 million hectare is liable to floods and drainage congestion. Out of this, it was estimated that only about 80% or 32 million hectare could be afforded reasonable protection.

The largest areas provided with surface drainage are located in the Punjab and Haryana in northern India. This is due to the fact that the natural drainage was most deficient in these States. Also these States contain the largest percentage of irrigated areas. Irrigation in the last few decades has led to a steady rise of the water table, and to counteract this, an extensive programme was started to minimize groundwater recharge by improving surface drainage, lining canals and distributaries, and more recently, tertiary canals and watercourses.

A considerable length of drainage channels has been constructed in the state of Andhra Pradesh especially to speed up drainage of the areas around Colleru Lake in the Krishna-Godavari delta.

Table 1 Progress of physical works completed up to March, 1985

From table 1 it will be seen that, up to March 1985, about 13 million hectare is benefitted by flood protection and drainage measures.

Sometimes inter-state problems have arisen in the drainage of low-lying areas in some of the northern States like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and the Union Territory of Delhi. Sometimes the upstream riparian States have constructed artificial drainage channels or improved natural drains, and consequently flood runoff from these areas has exceeded the discharging capacity of existing natural or artificial drains in the downstream riparian States. In such cases, there are difficulties and delays in arriving at amicable solutions regarding the design features of an integrated drainage system and/or the liability for the cost. Sometimes, difficulties also arise in bearing the cost of improvement of cross-drainage works in roads and railway lines intersecting the drainage lines.

Figure below shows:

Access to different types of drainage in some of the states of India

(Source: National Sample Survey of India, 60th round (January to June 2004). National Sample Survey Organization in India

Above figure offers another comparison involving Maharashtra and Gujarat. These two states lead India in the percentage of households served by underground drainage systems. And yet, these states also leave a much higher percentage of their populations without any form of drainage compared to those states that have pursued less advanced (but cheaper) options, such as open puccas (channels with concrete lining drainage systems). In the three other states listed-Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh-more than 70% of the households are served by some form of drainage system.

(Source: Asian Development Bank report on “India’s Sanitation for All: How to make it happen”, series 18, published in 2009)

India’s 4 major metropolitan cities named Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata are also suffering the problem of lack of drainage system in place.

Delhi’s Drainage System Condition:

The city boasts of new roads, flyovers, beautiful parks, luxury hotels, shopping malls, but no thought is spared to improve water and power supply or restore worn-out drains and sewers. The city’s outdated drainage and sewerage system lies in shambles.

The Union Budget has a provision of Rs 150 crore for the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, and Rs 350 crore for Delhi government for setting up infrastructure and other facilities. The Sports Authority of India and the All India Tennis Association have expenditure budget of Rs 1,000 crore and Rs 30 crore respectively towards the venue infrastructure. The Delhi Development Authority has earmarked Rs 1.5 billion, and construction work on stadiums and infrastructure will begin in mid-2007.

However, it is deplorable that despite all the money available, the city of Delhi is still in utter civic mess and will continue to be so even after the Commonwealth Games 2010.

A recent report tabled by the Committee on Petitions, Legislative Assembly of Delhi, while hearing a petition filed by CHETNA, a Delhi-based NGO, has highlighted the fact that the majority of the drains of Delhi have been settled and nothing can be done about it. It has also brought out the fact that in many cases even the design of the drains is faulty. The report suggests an urgent need for reconstructing the drains.

New roads, flyovers, beautiful parks and other infrastructure facilities may be rendered waste if the city’s drainage and sewerage systems are not strengthened. In view of the Commonwealth Games, the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi in the year 2007, A.K. Nigam (now Mr. K.S.Mehra) , has stated that a complete overhaul of the drainage and sewerage network be carried out on a war footing.

The Municipal Commissioner admitted that to implement the recommendations of the Committee to restructure the entire sewerage and drainage network and bring it under a single agency would require mammoth investment in terms of money and manpower. The Delhi authorities are too eager and willing to get the show (Commonwealth Games) on the road at any cost, but it’s the people of Delhi who would have to pay dearly for that.

(Source: Project Monitor website, article on: Delhi’s Drainage & Sewerage Network Stinking Mess dated 7th May 2007)

Mumbai’s Drainage System Condition:

At present, the collection and disposal of waste water and sewage in Mumbai is divided into seven zones, viz., Colaba, Worli, Bandra, Versova, Malad, Bhandup and Ghatkopar. From each of these, sewage and waste water is conveyed to the respective final discharge points for disposal through marine outfalls, some three kilometres into the sea. There are 53 pumping stations for pumping the sewage/waste water from lower level to higher level and there are 54,000 manholes for maintenance of 1,400km long network of the sewerage system.

The underground drainage pipes of the sewerage system in Mumbai are more than 100 years old and needs renovation. In congested parts, the sewerage lines and water pipelines run together and leakages contaminate drinking water. The unplanned and unauthorized growth of the city makes it difficult and, at times, impossible to replace old sewerage lines. The problem of sewer lines of small diameters getting choked due to solid waste and silt entering them is rampant. The result is that instead of getting drained, sewage overflows on to the surface.

Mumbai has a two-tier sewerage system. One is the underground sewerage system that discharges about 3.5 km into the sea. The other is storm water drains that carry surface and flood water during monsoon and discharges directly into the sea right at the sea

shore. However, what complicates the already overloaded sewerage system is the presence of a large percentage of the city’s population that has no access to it in the first place. While toilets in the buildings and establishments are connected to the underground sewerage system, this facility is not available to the slum dwellers.

Nearly 65% of Mumbai’s population of 13million, i.e., about 8million people lives in slums, of which 50% live in authorized slums with some toilet facility. The other 50%, i.e., about 4million slum residents have no choice but to ease themselves in the open spaces, along roads, highways, railway tracks, parks, playgrounds, open plots and beaches. During monsoons, this excreta flows through open drains and nallas into the storm water drains and gets discharged right near the coast.

(Source: “Understanding Our Civic Issues” an article by The Bombay Community Public Trust)

Chennai’s Drainage System Condition:

Citizens of Chennai say: “Canals and drains all remember, in times of rains and not before. When rains are past and everything dries-up, canals get silted and drains clogged.”

Chennai city and its surroundings are very flat with contours ranging from 2m to 10m above Mean Sea Level with a few isolated hillocks in the southwest. Chennai’s monsoons are characterized by clearly marked seasons with specific types of weather. The Northeast monsoon (October-December) is the main season when over 50 per cent of the annual rainfall happens.

Chennai’s terrain necessitates an effective storm water drainage (SWD) system and the Corporation of Chennai has a network covering a length of 855 km. Through this network, rainwater runoff gets drained into the 16 open canals maintained by the Corporation and reaches the sea via four waterways – Otteri Nullah, Buckingham Canal, Adyar and Cooum rivers – under the control of the State Public Works Department.

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METROWATER discharges most of its sewage into these canals and waterways; Desilting of the drains is carried out twice a year and canals are desilted once in two years. Structural repairs are also carried out whenever necessary and more drains are constructed on a continuous basis. The corporation is in the midst of implementing a massive Rs 1,400 crore SWD project for which substantial funding will come from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

According to experts, further urbanization, as envisaged in the Second Master Plan (SMP) along the south and southwest growth corridors would drastically increase flood peaks in the Adyar and Cooum rivers due to increase in impermeability of the surface and quick flow of storm waters.

The root cause for the floods is choking and blocking of natural drains and ‘infrastructure development’. Typical examples are the monstrosity called MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System) that has killed Buckingham canal as a flood carrier and indiscriminate road laying and rising of road levels all over the city. The much-touted high speed elevated corridors on the riverbanks and the ‘expressway’ over Chennai’s beaches could drive the last nail in the coffin! Low quality of material used and poor standard of constructing drains result in their breaking soon thereafter.

Management and maintenance of water supply, waterways and drainage system is a merry-go-round between METROWATER, PWD, Chennai Corporation and Municipalities with no single, effective authority in charge.

The result is chaos and confusion, a heady concoction for corruption and non-performance. Institutional reform is an immediate imperative if the city and its citizens are to be spared of this recurring agony.

(Source: Express Buzz website, article on Chennai’s rains and drains dated 10 November, 2009)

Kolkata Drainage System Condition:

From gull pit boys to jetting-cum-suction machine, the century-old Kolkata’s drainage system was investigated under the brick sewer lines laid between Moulali to Pamarbazar drainage pumping station. Civil defense boats and high powered video cameras were used to take photographs of the underground lines. The one kilometer long main sewer lines which were laid in 1868, have developed a number of cracks in different spots, a senior drainage department officer said. The study will be followed by studies on brick sewer lines in other parts of the city. After completion of the study, the Weston International will recommend ways to rectify the system. According to a senior drainage department official, most of the brick sewer lines situated in the city proper is lying in a bad shape. Some of the lines have collapsed too. The collapse of the sewer lines first was spotted in Kalutola area in the northern part of the city in 1956. A couple of years ago a big brick sewer line collapsed on AJC Bose Road in the southern part of the city. “Although the sewer lines have been rebuilt, we fear collapse of many such lines in other parts of the city as the lines have become age-old,” the official said.

(Source: The Times of India.Indiatimes website, an article on: City drainage system being modernized)

As discussed in the introduction chapter, drainage system in India is mainly divided into three sub divisions namely: Agricultural drainage, Road drainage and Industrial & Residential drainage.

As we know that over 70% of India’s population is dependent on agriculture, and India has the largest irrigated area in the world (57 million hectare), but only a relatively small proportion (2.5 million hectare) of the arable area is drained. Thus it becomes all the more important to study Agriculture drainage in detail.

(Source: Mottmac.in website, a search on irrigation and drainage I India I Mott Macdonald)

Agriculture Drainage:

An agricultural drainage system is a system by which the water level on or in the soil is controlled to enhance agricultural crop production.


Above figure shows the field (or internal) and the main (or external) systems Agricultural Drainage Criteria. The function of the field drainage system is to control the water table, whereas the function of the main drainage system is to collect, transport, and dispose of the water through an outfall or outlet. In some instances one makes an additional distinction between collector and main drainage systems.

Field drainage systems are differentiated in surface and subsurface field drainage systems. Sometimes (e.g. in irrigated, submerged rice fields), a form of temporary drainage is required whereby the drainage system is allowed to function on certain occasions only (e.g. during the harvest period). If allowed to function continuously, excessive quantities of water would be lost. Such a system is therefore called a checked, or controlled, drainage system. More usually, however, the drainage system is meant to function as regularly as possible to prevent undue water logging at any time and one employs a regular drainage system. In literature, this is sometimes also called a “relief drainage system”.

{Source: Mahalo.com website, a search on Drainage system (Agriculture)}

Like all, agricultural drainage too has positive effects and impacts.

Figure below represents “Positive effects and impacts of Agriculture Drainage”

(Source: Journal of Applied Irrigation Science, Vol.37. No 1/2002, pp. 33-61)

In India, large-scale canal irrigation schemes have been in operation for more than a century. At present, there are 1248 major and medium irrigation schemes in the country. During the past three decades there has been a dramatic increase in the use of groundwater for irrigation. As a result, India has the world’s largest gross irrigated area (77 million ha). The irrigation development has been widely acknowledged to have helped the country not only to achieve food self-sufficiency but also to be an exporter of agricultural produce in recent times. However, it is now realized that drainage is one of the areas that has not been given an adequate and equal status, while planning for water resource development coupled with a programme for a rapid expansion of irrigation infrastructure, during the era of the E:Thesis filesDrainage in agricultural_filesldquo.gifgreen revolutionE:Thesis filesDrainage in agricultural_filesrdquo.gif. Drainage provision was generally deferred or postponed in many cases due to the paucity of funds in the initial stages and thus was left to be taken up subsequently or as a curative measure to address water logging and salinity problems as encountered.

(Source: Gopalakrishnan, M. and Kulkarni, S. A. (2007), Agricultural land drainage in India. Irrigation and Drainage, 56: S59-S67. DOI: 10.1002/ird.368)

Thus there arise a need for a Modern drainage system – planning & construction in the field of Agricultural Drainage in India. The planning and design of drainage systems is not an exact science. Although there have been many advances in soil and crop science, techniques have not been developed for combining the basic principles involved into precise designs. One of the primary reasons for difficulty in applying known theory is the capricious variability of natural soil in contrast to the idealized soils required to develop a theory. The type of drainage system designed depends on many factors, but the most important is the type of soil, which determines whether water will move through rapidly enough to use subsurface drainage. Soils that have a high percentage of sand- and silt-size particles and a low percentage of clay-size particles usually will transmit water rapidly enough to make subsurface drainage feasible. Soils that are high in clay-size particles usually cannot be drained by subsurface improvements. It is essential to consider soil properties to a depth of five to six feet (1.5 to 1.8 metres) because the layer in the soil that transmits water the slowest controls the design, and subsurface improvements may be installed to these depths. The topography or slope of the land is also important. In many cases, land in need of drainage is so flat that a contour map showing elevations 12 inches (30 centimetres) or six inches (15 centimetres) apart is used to identify trouble spots and possible outlets for drainage water. Often an outlet can be developed only by collective community action. The rainfall patterns, the crops to be grown, and the normal height of the water table also are considered. If heavy rainfall is not probable during critical stages of crop growth, less extensive drainage improvements may suffice. The capacity of the system is governed in part by the growth pattern of the crop, its planting date, critical stages of growth, tolerance of excess water, harvest date, and value. In some areas the normal water level in the soil is high, in others low; this variable is always investigated before a drainage system is planned.

Road Drainage:

Road drainage relates to the collection and evacuation of water present in the sub grade and pavements. It is one of three aspects of road drainage, along with surface water evacuation (surface drainage) and re-routing natural flows. (Source: Technical guide on Road drainage dated March 2006 under the reference 0605 and translated in August 2007)

In country like India Road transport plays important role in the field of transport. Road is the life line of the nation. But unfortunately the conditions of Roads and Highways in India are very bad and critical. The reasons are:

 Heavy Traffic

 Inadequate Standards 

 Excess water from rainfall

 Local flooding

 Rise in subsoil  water

 Most important is lack of proper drainage system etc.

These results in damaged roads and   reduction of useful life of the road resulting in slowing down of traffic leading to congestion, time loss, fuel loss and ultimately inconvenience to public.

The best solution for this is to provide effective and adequate Sub-Surface Drainage System (SSD). Sub Surface drains are to be installed along the edges of the roads, under the roads and shoulders / pavements.  This system is fairly defined in the:

MORTH Specifications for Road and Bridge Works (Orange Book Sec.300,Cl. 309.3) 

Indian Road Congress-Special Publication 42- “Guideline of Road Drainage”

(Source: Rex PolyExtrusion website, data on road drainage under the heading Non farm sector SSD)

Residential Drainage:

Residential Drainage is the natural or artificial removal of surface and sub-surface water from rain, melting snow, runoff and condensation.

In India, a leaking foundation or wet basement is every homeowner’s worst nightmare. It is said that quicker and faster you get water away from your foundation, the less chance you have of developing a water infiltration problem. A properly installed foundation drainage system can save you lots of money and heartache. One of the most important aspects of building a new home, or maintaining an existing home, is the collection and removal of water from around the foundation. A building’s foundation is a vulnerable place for water intrusion.

A foundation drain tile system has four main components. The drain tile (pipe), the filter media (gravel), the gravel cover, and the water outlet. All of these elements must be installed for the system to function properly.

When a drainage system is used in residential construction, it is usually a combination of a gravel drainage layer with a foundation drain, either drain tile or perforated pipe. A poorly drained basement or foundation wall can create a multitude of problems ranging from structural failure of the wall itself to damage to the contents of the basement because of high humidity.

Industrial Drainage:

Industrial pipe covers a broad category of fluid and solid transport hardware used in process, energy, mining, construction, and many civil infrastructure applications for the transfer of solids and liquids.

Industrial pipe can be manufactured from a wide variety of materials including: ABS, brass, bronze, graphite, heavy duty polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene (PP), PVC, etc. In selecting a piping material for your application, special consideration must be given to pressure ratings and temperatures. The pressure rating (maximum service design pressure) is dependent on three things: the strength of the material from which the pipe is made, the thickness of the pipe, the temperature of the pipe in application.

In India, various programs are lined up for modernization of drainage. Some of them are:

The Andhra Pradesh Government is considering a proposal to take up modernization of drainage system in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) which will entail an investment of about Rs 10,000 crore.

The Ministry of Urban Development has technically sanctioned a water drainage project for Bahini and Noonmati basin at Guwahati under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) at an estimated cost of Rs 125.36 crore.

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation would be taking up urban sewerage and drainage projects worth Rs 180 crores.  The projects would be executed by private organisations, which would focus on providing the underground sewerage and drainage conveyance and disposal system to improve the environmental and sanitory condition and to lessen the problem of water logging.

Rs 378 crore integrated sewerage treatment projects for Agartala (Assam) under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) designed for improvement of drainage, sewerage and waste management.

Apart from these there are many more projects lined up with respect to drainage in India.

Buyer’s preference for Drainage pipes in India:

If talking of the drainage system in India and the pipes used in that, it was found out through secondary research that:

Drainage System Sub-Divisions

Buyer’s 1st Preference

Buyer’s 2nd Preference

Agricultural Drainage



Road Drainage



Residential and Industrial Drainage


Corrugated Polyethylene

Therefore at the end I would say that Drainage Market in India is at its inception stage right now and will become a lucrative market in the years to come probably by the year 2015.


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