Fair amount of rainfall during this monsoon has apparently curbed increased cases of water theft from 800 km Bist-Doab canal, passing through four districts of Doaba region.
The rains not only have relieved the farmers, who depend upon canal water for irrigation, but it has also erased the headache of the canal department officials, who were fretting over regular reportage of water theft cases from the Bist-Doab canal.
Sources said the canal department used to struggle with more than 100 water theft cases especially in paddy season as the crop needs substantial amount of water to ripe in this region.
In 2010-11, 117 cases in paddy season and seven in wheat season were registered. Next year 105 and only two cases in paddy and wheat seasons respectively were reported. In 2012-13, 78 cases in paddy and four in wheat seasons were registered with the canal department.
But the number of cases has been drastically reduced to 26 with a month left for the end of this season. An official with canal department said cases of water theft were usually reported from Goraya, Nawanshahr and other adjoining areas which have agricultural land near the canal and its distributaries.
The official added that besides good rainfall, last year's amendments in the Canal and Drainage Act 1873 by the state government, which imposes a fine of R5,000 and a six month imprisonment on those pilfering canal water illegally to irrigate their fields, might have reduced water theft cases.
"For first offence, water supply to the offender will be stopped for two turns and if found guilty second time, water supply for the entire season will be stopped," said the official.
He added that a few years ago, the canal department was collecting 'tawan' (fine) from the offenders but now the revenue officials levy 25 times more from actual legal abiyana (charge) of R75 for one acre from an offender.
Executive engineer (canal) Arvinder Singh Sohal said he was in Chandigarh and will be able to comment after checking records.