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Relining delay leaks volumes

The delay in blocking seepage from two canals has sent a huge amount of water to Pakistan, even as the tail-end areas of the state and Rajasthan required it for irrigation.

punjab Updated: Aug 29, 2012 23:09 IST

The delay in blocking seepage from two canals has sent a huge amount of water to Pakistan, even as the tail-end areas of the state and Rajasthan required it for irrigation.

For the canal relining project in the state, the planning commission had sanctioned Rs 952.10 crore two years ago. Besides the money under the agriculture and infrastructure development project (AIDP) for the relining of the Rajasthan Feeder canal up to point 496 RD, there was also Rs 489.16 crore last year for the relining of the Sirhind Feeder.

While the union government will bear 90% of the cost, Punjab and Rajasthan will share the rest. Last July, the Centre released Rs 105.08 crore to the Punjab government as first instalment of this assistance, which the latter has failed to pass on to the irrigation department. The result: no work initiated.

When built in 1957, the Ferozepur Feeder distributaries of Sirhind, Bikaner, and Eastern canals were designed to carry 11,192-cusec water. The system can hold just 9,000 cusec now. The Rajasthan Feeder canal (Indira Gandhi Canal in Rajasthan) has cut it capacity from 18,500 cusec to 12,500 cusec over the years. Choked with silt, both canals have many leakage points.

"Thanks to the shortage of irrigation water, Rajasthan is able to exploit mere 30% of its agricultural land," said Subhash Sehgal, spokesman of the Rajasthan Kisan Sangharsh Committee. "The optimum use of water with the relining of the two canals will solve the problem of dark zones and floods in Punjab."

Every year, the water loss is more than 1.50-lakh cusec. On an average, irrigating 1,000 acres requires an average of three-cusec water. "The excess water (if more than 30,000 cusec at Harike headworks in Ferozepur) should be allowed to run off to Pakistan," said Sehgal. "However, the present volume is less than 23,000 cusec, and yet more than 7,000-cusec flows everyday to Pakistan at the cost of the rights and interests of the country's own farmers."

"The tail-end areas of Punjab and Rajasthan hardly get enough water to irrigate their crop," Sehgal added. "Representatives of the jal commission of India are aware of the problem, and their team had also visited the spot."

It's excess water: SE
Prem Chand, superintending engineer (irrigation) of Ferozepur accepted that his department had not received the money promised for the relining of canals, and so the work had failed to start off. "Only excess water is flowing to Pakistan," said the SE. "The tail-end areas of Punjab and Rajasthan get due share."