To add to the misery caused by a weak monsoon which has kept the fields parched during the paddy season, the irrigation department has failed to provide water to farmers to irrigate their fields. As many as 40 big and small distributaries of the 800 km BistDoab canal were not cleaned as a result of which, water failed to reach the fields.
A parched minor distributary of the Bist-Doab canal near Talhan village on the outskirts of Jalandhar.
The Bist-Doab canal division had sent estimates to the government before the elections for cleaning the distributaries amounting to approximately ? 110 lakh, but no fund was released. Due to this, farmers are forced to hire machines for cleaning the distributaries at their own expense.
The unclean and dry distributaries in various parts of the region belie the tall claims made by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal of providing irrigation water to farmers across the state regularly.
A few years ago, the cashstarved state government had announced starting the renovation and extension work of the canal which runs around 800 km across the state and has a capacity to irrigate over 4.92 lakh acres of agricultural land but nothing happened.
The irrigation department claims it is also not getting its sanctioned quantity of water which is around 1450 cusecs.
Gurdev Singh, a farmer from Talhan village, said he had not received water from the distributary which crosses his village and his crops had failed miserably as the rain was also playing spoilsport.
Singh said he had sown paddy on 18 acres of land, hoping if the rains did not come, the canal water would be used to irrigate fields but to no avail.
Gurdeep Singh of Nangal Fateh Khan village said the canal was not cleaned by the irrigation department due to which water was not reaching his fields.
Moreover, the shortage of water has also increased incidences of pilfering of canal water in this region. In the last one month, around 80 cases were registered and the irrigation department also wrote to the police to take action against the violators.
Arwinder Singh Sohal, executive engineer of the irrigation department, said the rehabilitation and renovation project of the Bist-Doab canal had failed to take off and less rainfall had aggravated the issue. He said if it rained for two to three days continuously, the situation would improve.