LAHORE: The provincial irrigation department claims that the outgoing year (2019) was a year of construction and progress as well as of action against water thieves.
It executed works on rehabilitation and upgradation of barrages, construction of Jalalpur Canal and Greater Thal Canal (Choubara Branch), Ghambir and Dadocha dams, lined various canals, conducted a major campaign against water theft, completed flood management and introduced institutional and policy reforms, says a spokesperson for the department.
He says the Trimmu and Panjnad barrages are being improved and upgraded at a cost of Rs1.68 billion to ensure their safety and reliability for another 100 years and enhancing Trimmu’s discharge capacity from 645,000 cusec to 875,000 cusec and of Panjnad’s from 700,000 cusec to 870,000 cusec.
The prime minister formally opened work on 117-km Jalalpur Canal Project a few days ago at a cost of Rs32.7bn. The canal with a discharge of 1,350 cusec will bring 160,000 acres of arable land under irrigation. The Rs30.8bn Greater Thal Canal Phase-II (Choubara Branch) project has also been launched to bring 294,110 acres of lands under irrigation in Thal desert.
This Kharif, the department launched an extensive campaign to combat water pilferage in the distribution system. By Oct 15, at least 20,413 water theft cases were reported to police, 6,496 FIRs lodged against the water pilferers and 2,936 culprits arrested.
Rehabilitation of Trimmu-Sidhnai Link and SMB Link canals, Ahmadpur Branch and Eastern Sadiqia canals is under way at a cost of over Rs9.5bn, whereas selective lining of irrigation channels at a cost of Rs3.5bn and improvement of water supply at tail-ends in selected areas costing Rs6bn is in progress.
Work on Ghambir dam (Rs5.6bn) for tapping water in barani areas for irrigation of 15,000 acre and drinking water in Chakwal district, and Dadocha Dam (over Rs6bn) to supply 35 MGD drinking water to residents of Rawalpindi has been initiated.
On the institutional and policy reforms front, it got approved the Punjab Water Policy by the cabinet in 2018 for improving water governance and sustainable management of surface and ground water use in the province. A comprehensive Water Act for management of water resources has also been approved by the cabinet, and will soon be enacted after its approval from the Punjab Assembly.
The Punjab Khal-Panchayat Authority (PKPA) has been established for farmers’ participation to improve warabandi system and dispute resolution among farmers at watercourse level.
The spokesperson says that a flood emergency reconstruction and resilience project has been completed at a cost of Rs6.6bn, while Disaster and Climate Resilience Improvement Project (DCRIP) costing Rs10.8bn is under way.
Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2020