LAHORE: The Punjab Irrigation Department has taken control of canals and water courses in the province revamping the provincial irrigation scenario.

An official told Dawn Governor Chaudhry Sarwar has signed the Punjab Khal Panchayat Authority Ordinance abolishing the decades-old Punjab Irrigation and Drainage Authority (PIDA).

He said the ordinance was signed on Monday and it was notified in the gazette on Wednesday.

According to him, PIDA failed to achieve the objectives of its creation as water rate (abiyana) collection in areas under its jurisdiction fell to 45 percent while the department was collecting 70 percent of water rate from the canals it was operating.

Assuaging concerns of PIDA employees about their future, Irrigation Minister Mohsin Leghari says jobs of all PIDA functionaries will stand transferred to the Khal Panchayat Authority in the same grades, perks and privileges they were enjoying in PIDA and their jobs will be fully protected.

All assets and other matters of PIDA also have been assigned to the new authority.

After chairing the maiden meeting of the authority here on Friday, the minister said that the system was introduced for a better management of the canal network.

He said all farmers organisations had been rendered inactive after the promulgation of ordinance and the management of Area Water Boards had gone to relevant superintending engineers. He said from now on the collection of water rate would be the responsibility of the revenue department.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2019