04 July 2023, Chandigarh: In a dream come true, the farmers of the state got canal water after decades on the directions of Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann to provide the same to them. For the first time in their lives, the new generation of farmers saw nature’s bounty irrigating their fields in the form of canal water.
It was stated by Water Resources Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer during a press conference at Punjab Bhawan here today.
Meet Hayer lauded all the officers and employees of his department for the historic achievement and said that strengthening the canal water network is the main need of the hour to save the agriculture and groundwater of the state. He said that whereas the farmers are getting canal water for the first time, the same was provided to cotton belt farmers during sowing season on their demand.
Meet Hayer further said that out of 15741 water courses closed in the state due to the non-availability of canal water for the last several decades, 13471 water courses were restored by the Water Resources Department during the last two and a half months. Now, out of a total of 47000 water courses in Punjab, only 2270 remain to be restored, regarding which the work is also going on a war footing. To restore the water courses, the government issued a notification and they were given government status instead of community water courses. Apart from this, the condition of repairing the water courses was abolished only after 25 years.
The Water Resources Minister said that the department has restored these closed water courses at a cost of Rs. 200 Crore through MGNREGA. Similarly, unutilized funds were also used. More than 20 percent of the canals in Punjab are running beyond their capacity due to which sufficient water is also reaching the tails.
The department also increased the capacity of BML, BDC and UBDC. He said that they are continuously getting the canals inspected by deploying Patwari to XENs of the department to ensure that canal water reaches the farmers. He said that till last year in Punjab only 21 percent of irrigation was done with canal water while the remaining 79 percent was done with underground water. The new initiative will significantly increase the area irrigated with canal water.
Meet Hayer further said that taking another big step, the revenue cases of canal water disputes which have been pending for a long time were resolved quickly. In one year, 4700 new cases of disputes came up while 5016 cases were solved by the department in which the backlog was also cleared. Now only 1563 cases are pending which will also be solved soon.
Giving details about the works being done to deal with the possible threat of floods in the rainy season, Meet Hayer said that the department has completed 318 flood prevention works at cost of Rs. 89.10 Crore before the season started. Among them, 193 drain cleaning works were completed with Rs. 39.53 Crore expenditure and 75 different flood prevention works were done with Rs. 46.43 Crore cost. Similarly, five machines were purchased by the department at the cost of Rs. 3.15 Crore which are being used for cleaning the drains. He said that with this, the department will now clean the drains throughout the year.
Principal Secretary Water Resources Krishan Kumar was also present on this occasion.
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