As the reservoirs of the Bhakra and Pong dams are not getting “enough” water and the level is much below than what it was this time round last year, the partner states are left with no option but to cut their demand of water for irrigation.
Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan are expected to meet the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) on July 16 to review their requirement of water for irrigation, cutting it down by 10-20%.
Ten days ago, at an emergency meeting of the BBMB, the partner states were told that the quota of water supplied for irrigation purposes would be cut by 10-20% in case the rains failed or there was slow melting of snow in the catchment areas.
States of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh may be witnessing scattered rains but the reservoirs are not getting enough water. In the past 10 days, the water level in the Bhakra dam reservoir has improved by only 8 feet and at Pong dam it has improved by only 3 feet.
On Friday morning, the water level at Bhakra was recorded at 1,547 feet, 59 feet less than that on the corresponding day last year, and at the Pong reservoir it was recorded at 1,292 feet, 61 feet less than that of last year.
“Things are not improving, so we are left with no option but to cut supply to the states. The states have been called for a review meeting next week,” BBMB member Ashok Thapar told the Hindustan Times on Friday.
Punjab irrigation chief engineer AS Dullet said the states were reviewing their demand, as the inflow had not improved.
Haryana and Rajasthan were reportedly reviewing their requirement of water from the BBMB.
About 23% of Punjab’s agricultural land is irrigated by canal water, most of which comes from the BBMB canal system. Southern districts of Punjab are dependent on the BBMB canals for irrigation water; due to scanty rains in these areas, the paddy crop would be adversely affected, said Dullet.
The filling season starts at Bhakra on May 21 and at Pong on June 21, but till 10 days ago, the water levels were depleting and started improving only a week ago.
BBMB chairman AB Aggarwal on July 5 had asked the states to cut down their demand. “In the current season, we are supplying adequate water to the states, but we might be left with scanty water reserves when the 2013 kharif season begins,” Aggarwal had said.