During the last more than three years, the 90-mile-long Bathinda branch of the Sirhind canal, that caters to the irrigation needs of a large part of the Malwa region, has become highly breach-prone and needs immediate repairs at weak points so that adjoining areas are saved from the floods that occur due to breaches in the canal.
In November last year, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon had laid the foundation stone of the Rs 40-crore side lane project of the canal here, but so far the project has not gone beyond the foundation stone.
However, the frequent breaches in the canal during the rainy season every year are becoming a danger for the lives and property of the residents of adjoining areas.
After a survey of a stretch of the canal, the HT team found the situation to be perilous because of the damage to banks of the canal at various places.
Upkaran Singh, XEN, Sirhind canal, said, "Our seniors have already sent the requirement of Rs 40 crore for the project to the higher authorities, but there has been no response so far. As soon as we get the budget, we'll start the work on the project."
The people, living in the localities near the canal, said that the banks had become so weak that cracks could occur at any time even without a rain.
The Bathinda branch, that takes off from the head works near Doraha, reportedly carries nearly 2,200 cusecs of water. On reaching Bathinda, the level becomes 800 cusecs at the Bibiwala headworks.
The stretch of the canal that crosses Bathinda city is also in a bad shape. Despite undergoing a harrowing experience in 2007, when a wide breach in the canal had created a deluge in many localities, no preventive measures have been taken so far.
In May 2011, a 30-40 feet breach in a distributary of the canal towards the Cantonment area, flooded the fields in an adjoining village. More than 300 acres of the land in a village along the distributary have been converted into a swamp with 3-4 ft of stagnant water.
During the 2013 rainy season, a breach in the canal destroyed crops over several acres of land of farmers along with a zoo near the canal at Beed Talab.
This year, the flood due to a breach in the canal, claimed the life of a 13-year-old boy.