A CABINET note prepared by the Union Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) has sought central assistance of Rs 835 crore as “special case” for relining the Sirhind Feeder and Rajasthan Feeder projects, twin canals that flow through Punjab and cross over to Rajasthan.
The relining of these canals would stabilise and improve irrigation, the note points out.
Specifically, the Rajasthan feeder will save 560 cusec (cubic feet per second) water, which will help improve irrigation in 98,739 hectares, and the Sirhind feeder will save 256 cusec water and help 69,096 hectares, the Cabinet note states. Both areas have Rabi and Kharif cultivation.
The move is expected to help the BJP in the upcoming Assembly election in Rajasthan.
The note, likely to come up in Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, states that the two projects are not eligible for inclusion under the latest guidelines of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana-Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (PMKSY-AIBP), justifying the need for central assistance as a special case. The PMKSY is a national mission with a budget of over Rs 2,600 crore to “improve farm productivity and better utilisation of resources”.
The note, prepared last week, states: “As per the latest guidelines of PMKSY-AIBP, projects are required to have at least 50% financial and 50% physical progress for eligible for inclusion under this programme. The Sirhind feeder and Rajasthan feeder projects do not fulfil this criteria and therefore may be provided central assistance (CA) as special case keeping in view that the projects would address the problem of water-logging in South West Punjab. CA may be provided in the ratio as per PMKSY-AIBP guidelines.”
While the Sirhind feeder project is a part of the large irrigation canal that carries water from the Sutlej, the Rajasthan feeder, popularly known as Indira Gandhi Canal, is one of the country’s longest irrigation canals.
In the past, both Punjab and Rajasthan governments have reported damages to the lining of both feeders, causing considerable seepage loss. “As a result, apart from reduced flows in these canals, the adjacent areas have been affected by water logging thereby causing agricultural losses in these reaches,” the note states.