In what may come as a severe blow to farmers in the region, Bhakra Beas Management Board has reduced the water it releases for Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan by 10 %, an official said here on Tuesday.
The reduction in water supply to these states would hit the farmers the worst as they are already reeling under scant rainfall and a delayed monsoon. BBMB releases over 40,000-cusec water per day from the Bhakra and Pong reservoirs to the partnering states for irrigation purposes.
Farmers said that the cut in water supply would force them to spend more on diesel to pump water for irrigating crops such as paddy, cotton, maize and guar. "It will not only jack up input costs substantially but also cause a further depletion of underground water resources," a farmer said.
A total of 31-lakh hectares and 29-lakh hectares of land in Punjab and Haryana, respectively, are under irrigation system. BBMB on July 5 had announced to reduce water release by 10-20 % if rainfall failed or remained low over the next 7-10 days. This decision was taken after a meeting with the representatives of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
The level of water in Bhakra dam on Tuesday stood at 1,551.63 feet, 60 feet lower than what the level was on the corresponding day last year. Similarly, water level in the Pong dam was 1,291.86 feet as against 1,353 feet last year, the official said.
BBMB Chairman AB Agrawal had earlier described the "delayed" monsoon as "unfortunate" and had feared that both Bhakra and Pong reservoirs might not be filled during the ongoing water filling period, till September 20. The next meeting to review water release will be held on July 26.