With an aim to ensure optimum use of irrigation water coming through Shah Nehar, the Kangra district administration has converged the construction work of minor and sub-minor canals with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
Initially, the construction of minor and sub-minor canals for carrying water from the main canal to fields will be carried out in Fatehpur block panchayats.
The canal has been designed to extend irrigation facilities to 93 villages of Indora and Fatehpur block, but water could be put to optimum use only when the construction of minor canals was finished.
The Shah Nehar brings Himachal's share of irrigation water from Pong Dam to the Kangra district farmers.
Earlier, the irrigation and public health (IPH) department was constructing minor, sub-minor and smaller drains in command area of the canal for which the state government had approved an additional fund of Rs 68 crore
Kangra additional deputy commissioner (ADC) Rohan Chand Thakur said: "The construction of the minor and sub-minor canals for carrying water to fields is being converged with MNREGA."He said small land holdings were a major problem in making an optimum utilisation of canal water, as construction of smaller drains was becoming a difficult task.
"The convergence will not only generate employments for the people of the area, but help in optimum use of irrigation water coming through the canal," said Thakur.
Thakur said people would not only take keen interest in the project, but also in maintenance of minor canals, as the project would benefit them in additional income generation through agriculture and horticulture.
The 45-km-long Shah Nehar is the first canal irrigation project for hill areas in the country, which will deliver 2,000 cusec water to the fields. The Beas water from Talwara barrage will pass through tunnels and 12-km-long aqua-ducts of the Shah Nehar before reaching the fields.
The aqua-ducts have been constructed at the height of 25 metre from the ground level at various places using concrete pillars.It is also the longest aqua-duct development for any canal irrigation project in the country.
The agreement for the construction of the canal was reached between Punjab and Himachal in 1983.
The initial cost of the project was Rs 143 crore, while Himachal was to contribute 40%, Punjab had to contribute 60% of the project.However, Punjab contributed only Rs 66 crore, even though the cost of project increased to Rs 392.85 crore due to delay
The union government contributed 90% cost of the project under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme, while the remaining 10% was contributed by Punjab and Himachal in 60:40 ratio.The canal was commissioned last year.