With the farmers and the agriculture department complaining about the lack of canal water facilities, mainly in Muktsar and Fazilka districts, the Punjab government has now blamed Rajasthan for the crisis.
On his visit to Muktsar on Thursday, Punjab irrigation minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon said, “The Sirhind feeder derives water from Harike head-works and is supplying irrigation water in the Faridkot, Ferozepur, Fazilka and Sri Muktsar Sahib districts of Punjab. This canal was proposed to be cleaned in the month of April, 2016 after taking the NOC from the Government of Rajasthan. But Rajasthan did not allow the closure of canal for cleaning,” Dhillon said.
He added that, meanwhile, the Punjab agriculture department also insisted that the canal should not be closed for cleaning and the water supply should continue in the month of April in the wake of early sowing of cotton. “Since the Sirhind feeder canal could not be cleaned, therefore due to silting of the canal the water carrying capacity reduced by about 20% at the head of canal,” he said.
Kahan Singh Pannu, secretary, irrigation, elaborated that the Government of Rajasthan has been requested to allow the reopening of a cut near the Bhullar head so that the water share of Punjab could be routed through the Rajasthan feeder into the downstream of Sirhind feeder for adequate water supply in Abohar, Fazilka and Muktsar areas.
Meanwhile, convening the meeting of irrigation department officials, Dhillon directed the officials to take all possible measures to tide over the crisis. “A team of senior engineers of the department headed by chief engineer, canal, will be stationed at the Sirhind feeder to take all possible technical measures. In addition, for the de-silting, the wet dredging of the canal will be launched at earliest,” Dhillon said.
The department has also put the teams on alert to ensure that no farmer draws more than authorised share of water from the water channels by altering outlets.