Wait is far from over for farmers, who were expecting the second phase of Kandi canal to become operational this paddy season, in Kandi area of the Hoshiarpur-Balachaur belt as the irrigation department has missed the deadline yet again.
Kandi comprises areas falling along the Shivalik foothills in Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Nawanshahr and Ropar districts.
A lot of work remains to be completed before water can be released in the canal.
The main watercourse is almost ready but a number of structures are yet to be built. A stretch of about 50 metres on both sides of the railway crossing near Mahilpur has been left untouched pending sanction from the Railway ministry.
The first phase of the canal had taken about 20 years to complete. The construction was taken up in 1978 by the state but the project made a headway only after the World Bank approved funding in 1989. The 59.5-km canal from Talwara to Hoshiarpur was completed in 1998 at a cost of Rs. 110 crore. The discharge capacity at the head of the canal is 500 cusecs of water but presently it carries 242 cusecs, much of which is lost as seepage in unrepaired watercourses and ruptured canal lining.
The project envisaged irrigation facilities to nearly 30,000 hectares in 218 villages but only a small number of farmers whose fields lie along the canal are able to draw water.
Irrigation superintending engineer DS Kohli said in the last three years the department did not get any funds for maintenance. He admitted that due to neglect, a reasonable part of canal water was wasted. Funds were also needed to lay underground distributing lines, he added.
Meanwhile, delay in execution of the second phase has resulted in cost overrun. Initially, the total cost of extension project was estimated at Rs. 179.42 crore but now it is pegged at Rs. 540 crore. Condition of the canal has already become pathetic. The department will have to spend a lot on clearing weed and also repair of lining before releasing water in the canal.