After a break of one month, water was finally released into the canals of Punjab from Monday. This will bring relief to those residing in the Malwa region as they are completely dependent on canal water as the ground water is unfit for drinking and irrigation. However, tail-end villagers have once again appealed to the department to provide adequate water supply to them this year. They have also alleged that the canals have not been cleaned properly despite being shut for the purpose. They fear that due to lack of cleanliness, the water flow won’t be smooth.
The problem of water shortage was also highlighted in the Congress’s Baisakhi political conference as well. Sharing his woes Kashmir Singh, a farmer in Fazilka’s Khuian Sarvar village said, “Our village gets water from Punjava canal and last year also we had to stage dharans to get proper supply as it is situated at the tail-end. This year the weather is extemely hot and hence we are asking the agriculture department to provide us with adequate water supply so that we can sow cotton timely.”
Expressing similar views, Bhal Singh, a farmer in Fazilka’s Gumjal village said, “We sat in front of the canal department last year for several days and later got some proper water supply for our kinnow orchards while cotton crop sowing was delayed. This time as well, the agriculture department officials came to our village and asked us to start sowing cotton, but we have asked them to ensure proper water supply first.”
Ram Singh from the same village,said, “We get water from Malukpur minor, it is yet to reach our village and if we miss the turn today, we will have to wait for a week. Farmers get water supply from water outlets installed at various points of canals in an illegal way and hence by the time it reaches at tail-ends, we get bare minimum water supply.”
Similar was the problem with farmers of tail-end villages in Talwandi Sabo, who had already staged dharna twice on this issue. Congress candidate from the constituency Khushbaz Jatana had raised this issue in his Baisakhi mela speech and Finance Minister Manpreet Badal had assured that farmers will not face any problem this year.
However, when Executive Engineer RK Gupta from Fazilka was contacted, he said,”We have requirement of 3,500 cubic per second (cusec) water in April and we have already got 2,200 cusec. Tail-end villages will get water in another 3 days. They will get proper supply and if there is any problem we will redress the same.”