RAHIM YAR KHAN: A 75-foot breach occurring in Shareen Minor Canal near Talaywala Headworks in Khanpur tehsil, some 60kms from here on Friday night, damaging maze, onion and sugarcane crops over some 200 acres.

Locals blamed lack of monitoring and maintenance of the weakened canal bank by the irrigation staff for the breach which they plugged on their own, finding no help from the department.

They says the breach was caused due to weakening of the canal banks because of wild growth of plant and grass, excessive silt in it and unchecked entry of livestock into the canal. They say the breach was initially 30-foot wide but later expanded to 75 feet despite low water flow.

Locals say that they had informed the irrigation staff about the breach immediately, but no one bothered to plug it, resulting in widening of it.

Locals protest against irrigation staff for ‘negligence’

They say that finding no help from irrigation department, they made efforts on their own to plug the breach, using their tractor-trolleys, adding that it took them 10 hours to plug it.

On Saturday, scores of farmers gathered at the breach spot and staged a protest demonstration against the irrigation department.

Speaking to the protesting farmers, agriculturist Sardar Yaqoob Sindhu said that the breach occurred due to negligence of irrigation department.

He said the main reason for the breach was entering of livestock of milkmen into the canal and the irrigation officials condoned this practice because they get bribes in the form of milk and meat.

He said that due to the breach, canal water entered the nearby fields and damaged corn and onion crops over some 200 acres, adding the sugarcane crop was also badly effected because it was at an early stage.

He added that due to the canal breach a two-feet thick layer of mud had covered the fields that would effect fertility of the land.

Sindhu alleged that the irrigation staff had released additional quantity of water into the Shireen Minor without properly monitoring its weakened banks.

He said had locals not plugged the breach, the water would have entered their houses.

Sindhu warned if any breach occurred there again, the locals would seek legal action against against irrigation department.

Talaywala Headworks is origin of three canals -- Abbasia Canal, Aabe-Hayyat Canal and Shireen Minor Canal.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2023

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