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WITH ONLY 50 per cent of cotton sowing done till date in the cotton belt of Punjab, state’s Department of Agriculture has expressed concern over inadequate canal water supply in the belt. As per the advisory of Department of Agriculture, cotton sowing season is from April 15-May 15. However, canal department was busy doing cleaning work in the whole of April and water reached the villages in first week of May, delaying the sowing process.
To take stock of this situation, Kahan Singh Pannu, Secretary Agriculture, visited various districts of Malwa Thursday. Pannu visited Ferozepur at Harrike Pattan area from where Rajasthan feeder, Gang Canal pass through and supply water to districts such as Fazilka, Muktsar, Bathinda, Mansa etc through various tributaries. He also visited Sirhind feeder in Muktsar area.
With sowing deadline over and 50 per cent of the area is still to be cultivated, Pannu said, “We have advised farmers to do sowing till May 31. Though it will be a bit late, but still they can do it. I visited Muktsar, Ferozepur, Fazilka areas today and canal water to the entire belt will be provided in adequate supply now.I am aware of water shortage. I hde asked the canal department to get the cleaning work done in March and October, so that sowing season is not delayed.”
Farmers have been organising a number of dharnas in Muktsar and Abohar over this issue in the past fortnight. Two days back, AAP also sat on dharna in Lambi complaining water shortage as well as contamination in water supply.
According to locals, Abohar branch which emerges from Muktsar has not been cleaned for a decade and it supplies water to 7-8 tributaries such as Malukpura minor, Daulatpur minor, Punjawa canal, Arniwala minor. A farmer, Banwari Lal, who was himself cleaning Malukpur minor canal last week in village Gumjal of Abohar constituency of Fazilka district, said: “When the main canal is not clean, proper flow of water cannot go in the branches as well. This is a major reason for inadequate water supply, which is not being addressed to…” Raharam Bishnoi, another farmer of the same village, said, “We receive minimum water supply whatever the conditions. Excess water comes only in monsoons, when it is not needed.”
Bishnoi said that over 40 per cent of the village land remains vacant in cotton season for want of water supply. Information from canal department revealed that Punjab government had asked the district officials to get canals cleaned by NREGA workers, however, they did not turn up. Pannu said, “We are aware that canals still need to be cleaned. However, it will be addressed after sowing season.”