The closure of Rajbaha (a canal link) in the last week of Fabruary to carry out some construction has left many villages without water.
The work on the 20-km stretch of the Rajbaha had reportedly started on March 1 and the Rs. 10-crore project was to be completed in less than a month. However, the water is yet to be released in the canal. Farmers of villages such as Panjgrain Kalan, Ghania Wala, Jiwan Wala, Aulakh, Devi Wala, Sirsari, Bir Sikhan Wala, Nathewala Navan and Purana, Sikhan Wala, Sandhwan, Duareana etc. are facing great hardships due to scarcity of drinking as well as irrigation water.
"Our water works has been lying closed for about two months and now the children can be seen playing cricket in the water storage tanks. We are forced to fetch water from the hand pumps in the villages," said Binder Singh and Gurnam Singh of Duareana village, 6 km from Kotkapura.
"We have to suffer a lot because of the non-availability of drinking water. All the people do not buy water from the only reverse osmosis (RO) system in the village as they are not ready to pay the security amount of about Rs. 300 and then Rs. 60 monthly charge. Also, 20 litres of water is not sufficient for the entire family. So, even families who buy water from the RO too have to fetch water from hand pumps," said a group of women, who were standing in queue at a hand pump.
"The underground water within the village boundary is so bad that it is not even fit for washing clothes and taking bath. We have never applied soap on our body since the water works ran dry because it sticks to body if we try to wash it with the hand pump water," said Amarjeet Singh, a resident of Duareana village.
"The Rajbaha could have been constructed in two phases to avoid the failure of village water works," says Gurmeet singh, another villager.
"The water works has also been lying dry since the closure of the Rajbaha," confirms Jaswant Singh of Panjgrain Kalan village.
"The construction of Rajbaha has also led to the failure of water works system in my village, Aulakh, because the water can not be stored for long. For about a month, we got water supply on alternate days but now that had been stopped. The underground water is unfit for drinking. People are dependent on the RO system," said Balwinder singh Aulakh of Aulakh village.
Executive engineer (irrigation) Nirmal Singh Brar said, "The project got delayed due to sand problem. Now, we shall release water into the canal on Monday as the work has been completed."