If financial and administrative reasons have delayed the completion of Kandi canal's second part, the first part also cries for repair. Due to lack of maintenance, not more than 20% canal water is reaching the beneficiaries. Officials admit to underutilisation of the canal but say that they need funds to plug the water loss.
The irrigation department spent R10 crore this year on repair of 18 km of the canal though the entire stretch of 59.5 km needed repair. Wall linings are ruptured and silt is deposited in the bed. Last year, a high-level committee led by the secretary, irrigation, inspected the canal and suggested laying of underground pipes, wherever feasible, to supply irrigation water instead of open channels but the survey is yet to complete.
Superintending engineer (SE), kandi canal, DS Kohli said the survey in 50 acres of area was being conducted. The village beneficiary committees had failed to maintain the open distributaries and cattle 'ghats', he added.
These days, 205 cusecs of water is flowing in the kanal from Mukerian to Hoshiarpur and the discharge is expected to be raised once the paddy plantation begins.
The canal, which takes off from Mukerian hydel channel and runs along the Shivalik foothills, has design discharge of 500 cusecs at the head but presently carries only 242 cusecs. It would run to its full capacity after the completion of the second phase.
The construction of the canal was taken up during 1978 with state funds but work could make headway in 1989 only when the World Bank funded it. The first phase was completed in 1998 at a cost of R110 crore. Construction of the second phase has been lingering since 2005. Land acquisition and environmental clearance took years. Last year, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) sanctioned Rural Infrastructure Development Loan (RIDF) loan of R185.35 crore for extension of the canal from Hoshiarpur to Balachaur.
The SE revealed that of the 126-km, length of 115 km was complete and if funds flowed smoothly, the remaining part would be complete by 2014. He said an estimated sum of R222 crore was needed to make the canal functional.
“Five lift irrigation schemes have been conceived to provide irrigation water to upper reaches. Work on three of these projects is already on,” he added. Five foot bridges and a railway bridge are also to be constructed over the canal, he added, claiming that R3.5 crore had been deposited with the railways to carry out work on the railway bridge.
He stated with the completion of the project, an additional area of more than 29,000 hectares falling in 218 villages of the Kandi would be brought under irrigation.
In 2010, the state government had levied user charges on canal water but the farmers are not paying. Farmers are supposed to pay R75 per acre per crop (wheat and paddy) but they continue to get free irrigation water.
126 km: Total length
115 km: Work completed
2014: Year by which remaining part would be complete provided funds flow
R222 crore: Needed to make the canal functional