Lifeline for farmers, Bist-Doab Canal put on the back burner | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Lifeline for farmers, Bist-Doab Canal put on the back burner

punjab Updated: Oct 01, 2013 20:43 IST
Jatinder Kohli

The rehabilitation project of `247-crore Bist-Doab Canal, which was scheduled to begin on October 1 this year, failed to take off after the Punjab government reportedly failed to arrange funds for the project.

The "cash-starved" state government had announced to start renovation and extension of the canal, which runs around 800 km in the state and has a capacity to irrigate more than 4.92-lakh-acre agriculture land, on October 1.

The next date to start the project has not yet been finalised, but according to officials, it would take another month.

The department and the state government had been facing criticism for the past several years for "ignoring" the canal, which was the main source of irrigation in four districts of Doaba region - Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur.

The canal, considered to be the lifeline of Doaba region, is a patch of dry earth in most of the areas. Illegal encroachments and garbage dumps have further deteriorated its worth.

The project was technically approved by Central Water Commission (CWC) and was to be funded by the central and state governments and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

Sources in the canal department said that the canal system, which has 14 small and large canals or tributaries, had not received financial aid from any of the designated sources since its inception in 1955.

They said that the government was now planning to rely on agencies of Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) and Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) to fund the project.

Sources said it was for the first time that CWC had approved the project, as for the past so many years the project was being repeatedly revised for want of funds.

They said that under the project, brick lining was to be done on the bank of the canal under renovation and modernisation process.

"Brick lining will help in recharging water in an efficient manner as its embankments will get sturdy, which will prevent wild vegetation, leading to faster supply of water," sources said.

Sources said as most of the areas of Doaba region fell in the dark-zone areas, the canal irrigation system would be handy in increasing their ground water level.

Canal department officials said that if farmers used canal water during paddy season then a huge amount of underground water, which has already gone down drastically, could be saved.

Talking to Hindustan Times, Arwinder Singh Sohal, executive engineer of the canal department, said: "Some issues have been hindering the project from taking off. The project will now start within a month and will be completed till March 2014."

"This will be the first time that the canal will be renovated since its inception in 1955," Sohal added.