It is not only the delayed monsoons,but also the poor maintenance of canals that has pushed the cultivation of paddy in the Doaba region behind schedule. Figures released by the states Agriculture Department show that 2.50 lakhs hectares less land for paddy has been cultivated this year compared to around the same time last year. Out of a total 27 lakh hectares of area which was to be brought under paddy cultivation this season,only 14.50 lakh hectares has been brought under cultivation.
Director of the Punjab Agriculture Department Dr Mangal Singh Sandhu attributed this to the fact that farmers in the Doaba region do not get canal water. Farmers in this region are the worst affected in Punjab by the late monsoons because of the inadequate availability of canal water for sowing paddy.
Deputy Director of the Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA),Dr Naresh Gulati,said that in the Doaba region the paddy cultivation is much behind that in the Malwa and Majha regions where the availability of canal water is adequate.
Sources reveal that the Bist Doab canal,which runs in the entire Doaba region (Jalandhar,Hoshiarpur,Kapurthala and Nawanshahr districts) can normally irrigate 4.50 lakhs hectares of area. At present,however,it is capable of irrigating less than 25 to 30 per cent (one to 1.5 lakhs hectares) of this.
The main reason for this is that the section of the canal between Ropar and Balachur,which is the starting point of the canal,has not been cleaned or maintained. As a result,the entire canal has been receiving 30 per cent (1450 cusecs) less than it should be receiving.
Another reason is the common incidence of the pilferage of canal water in Doaba. Around 25 complaints of water theft have been lodged by the Canal Department with the police,but no action has been taken till date,in part because the police is not adequately equipped to police the entire Doaba region.
A senior officer in the Canal Department said that the Punjab government pays very little heed to the transportation and security of field staff,which has to check the theft of water in the region at odd times.
Meanwhile,the state Agriculture Department formally launched direct paddy cultivation from Tuesday in the entire state.