AMIDST TROUBLE over the SYL canal, Punjab has demanded that the Central Water Commission (CWC) should increase the height of Harike Lake by 3 feet to save the large amount of water going to Pakistan. It would also increase the flow of water from Harike to Rajasthan, which gets 68 per cent of the lake’s water for irrigation.
A CWC team visited Punjab from October 25 to 28 to assess the complete utilisation of water of Indus system (Eastern rivers) and other related issues. The team had visited Harike Lake on October 27.
In response to the visit, Punjab Irrigation Department Executive Engineer (Ferozpur district) Vijay Pal Singh Mann has written a letter to the CWC to raise the height of the banks of Harike to increase its capacity to store more water. Mann has also written the book, Troubled Waters of Punjab, in 2004. He claims that then chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had amended the river water bill in the Assembly based on the second last paragraph on page eight of his book. Mann said, “If we can increase the height of the Harike Lake banks by 3 feet, then its capacity would increase. It has been 57 years since it was constructed and it has piled up so much silt in its pond area. I have sent a proposal to the CWC to increase the height. The team had visited Harike Lake last month. I have suggested to the commission that if we can increase the height of the banks of Harike by 3 feet, then it would be worth the value.”
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He further stated, “Silt has reduced the capacity of the lake. By increasing the height, the lake’s capacity to carry water will increase and then, we will be able to utilise water in a more effective way. We would have the luxury to use the standing water whenever we feel the need for it.”
Mann continued, “We can store another 27,000 acre feet volume of water by increasing the height. And, it is almost equal to the amount of water we lose to Pakistan due to lack of capacity. Pakistan stores this extra water at its Suleman Headworks, constructed in 1927. The total pond area of Harike Lake was 9,700 acres with depth of 23 feet when it was dug up 57 years ago. Analysis from the satellite images suggests that we are left with only 20 per cent of the capacityo. Around 80 per cent has been lost to siltation.”
He added, “Earlier, we used to supply water to the canals up to seven days in case of any disruption in the supply of water to the lake from the dam. But now, we can manage canals only for one day on our own. One cusec water generates an income of roughly Rs 1 crore.
1,000 acres is irrigated with 3.25 cusec water. If that water flows into Pakistan, then we have been losing a national treasure. The increased height of the Harike bank would naturally decrease the flow of water into Pakistan. 68 per cent of the total water stored at Harike is going to Rajasthan and 32 per cent tor Punjab. Rajasthan will also benefit if the height is increased.”